Sam Bailey realised she could sing when she was 15 after a slow dance with a Haven Yellow Coat called Andy to Karyn White's 'Superwoman'.
“After that night, I learnt every word to that song and I’d sing it in the girl’s toilets at my local youth club in Sidcup. The girls would pay me in chocolate to sing it every night.
“I then started to learn more songs, I’d write out the lyrics for Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey songs and practise and practise. I’d put red stars at every point they breathed and I’d breath the same way in the same places. And then I started entering competitions.”
By 17, she was performing in Working Men’s Clubs as warm up for acts like Jim Davidson and Cannon and Ball. By 18 she was offered a job as a Bluecoat at Pontins before working on Cruise ships as a professional singer and joining the drag troop act, The Tony Carnegie Show.
“I came up through a very old-fashioned route but every lesson I learnt was the hard way. I’d go up for audition after audition. I’d go for things I knew I’d never get because I knew I had to teach myself about rejection and then keep on going.”
After falling in love with her husband Craig, Sam continued to perform after daughter, Brooke was born and again after the birth of her son, Tommy. After the recession kicked in and the working men’s club scene imploded, she trained as a prison officer and put her singing on hold.
“It just got harder. The clubs were closing down, the audiences got smaller and smaller and there were nights you might not get paid. I had kids, I had bills and my life had changed. I just settled into a very different life, working in the prisons, bringing up my kids. I knew I could still sing, but everything around me had changed.
“So much is about timing. I went up for X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent before but never got through the rounds until last year.”
Enter Sharon Osbourne. The relationship between these two strong women evolved into a life-changing experience for Sam. She lost three stone (she has lost a further half stone) and her confidence soared in tandem with her spectacular voice.
“I never expected to win. I thought of it only ever as one show at a time” says Sam. “I couldn’t have done it without Sharon and the backing of my kids but most of all without my husband Craig. He is my rock, all of this would have been impossible without his love and support.”