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X Factor Tour 2014

About Abi


Abi Alton was born in Middlesbrough on 26th August 1994,

making her 19 years of age.


She spent her early years in the seaside town of Marske, with her Dad, Paul, Mam, Sharon and Brother Daniel before moving to Guisborough, North Yorkshire when she was aged 9. Alton recalls being surrounded by music from an early age, with her dad buying a piano (what she describes as the 'worst, cronkiest old thing ever but with lots of sentimental value') before she was born for him to learn on, although she recalls often watching her dad play and trying to copy him :


'I guess my dad is a massive part of why I've always had that attraction to music, I have always been a huge daddies girl and I completely idolised him, especially as a child, so I just wanted to be like him'. However when her parents sent her to lessons aged 7, she laughs: 'I hated it so much. They forced me into going, recognising I was really musical but I was a stubborn little thing and begged them to stop making me go'


Eventually they gave into her pleas, only for her to realise she did actually want to learn, aged 11, the age from which she began taking grades with the London College of Music. Abi is currently taking her Grade 7 Piano.


Abi first took an interest in songwriting aged 14, remembering one of her first gigs as a catalyst for picking up the pen: 'I went to see this band and they were obviously really affected by the level of fame they'd achieved, but In a negative way. Amy Winehouse was in the press an awful lot at the time and I just remember thinking what a shame it was that success could make people act in such a way, so I went home and wrote a song about it'. Not your average 14 year old ? Abi laughs:


'I definitely wasn't! I was quite extrovert at school which was mistaken for me being quite confident, but in reality I was actually quite a sensitive soul and I would sit and ponder about serious issues'. Abi received a guitar for her 15th birthday, the time when she began writing prolifically. The songwriting was only shared with family and friends until the Young Americans, a travelling performing arts company, visited her school, when she performed one of her compositions in front of 600 peers, parents and community leaders, receiving a standing ovation. She says of the experience: 'Although it was just a school concert, it remains a pivotal point as far as music is concerned. I think something just clicked then, I loved the reaction I got and I knew from then on I wanted to be a musician and performer.'



True to her word, the next few years consisted of relentless gigging in and around the North east, building up a fan base, around studying A levels at college. Abi also worked part time at a supermarket, using the money to buy instruments, her own PA system, and eventually to record her first studio album 'Simple Truths', which was released in November 2012. The album was removed from online vendors a few months later due to contractual reasons, but not before it was incredibly well received by the local music scene. Upon finishing college in May 2012, Abi took a place studying English at Newcastle University:


'I'd always been good at English, so I just decided that I would be best off taking a place on a good course at a good uni, whilst also using the opportunity to gig in a new city and expand my fan base, rather than continuing to try and get more people to notice at home'. However Abi soon dropped out of the course, of which she says: 'I was surrounded by people who were really passionate about what they were studying, all the while I was sat there thinking 'this is my backup plan, this isn't what I really want'. 'So I moved back home and I felt like my whole world was falling apart, as I'd always had that security of being in education instead of just biting the bullet and giving the music a real shot.'

Little did Abi know that 2013 would provide her with the break she had been waiting so long for. As James Arthur won the X factor in December 2012, a fellow Teessider who'd gigged in the same places as Abi, Abi says she felt inspired by his success, despite admitting previously being skeptical of what the show could do for her:


'I just thought, if James can do it, why shouldn't I give it a shot?'. 'It was definitely worth it!'


She says. So, in June 2013, with 'roadie' dad in tow, Abi auditioned at Manchester's Old Trafford, in front of renowned music managers Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh and platinum selling artists Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger. Osbourne and Barlow were the most taken aback by Abi's rendition of a The Dixie Chicks 'Travelin' Soldier', Barlow stating that she had a 'really unique voice' and that she was 'Just what the show needed.' With Osbourne adding that she was 'her own unique little thing' and Scherzinger saying that Abi was 'an artist already'. Sailing through to the Arena round of the competition, Abi performed her self penned song 'Jigsaw' moving Nicole to tears and receiving a standing ovation from a 5,000 strong audience.


The judges comments Abi described as 'crazy' included that from Gary: 'There was a really magical moment there, I could see it in your eyes- when the audience started to stand it was like your dream had come alive right in front of you; I'm so glad I was here for that moment- what an incredible audition that was.' He also added that she had a 'powerful gift for storytelling and a career for life' although this was not included in the final edit aired on TV in September 2013.  She also became known for her distinct style with her trademark flowers and glasses : 'That was never intentional!' She laughs


'People seemed to really love the flowers, I just wore them because they were in thing at the time, being a typical shopaholic and girly girl!'



At the bootcamp stages, Abi blew away both the judges and the audience once again when she performed her own interpretation of Whitney Houston's classic 'I wanna dance with somebody' accompanying herself on piano and receiving another standing ovation from an arena crowd, earning her a place at the Judges Houses stage of the competition to be held at her future Mentors home in Antigua.

Here she performed more unique interpretations on popular hits, singing 'Only You' by Alison Moyet and 'Anything could Happen' by Ellie Goulding for both Nicole and Mary J Blige, who described her as having 'the goosebump factor' and 'moving'.


Abi describes her Judges houses experience as no mean feat:


'Judges houses was really emotionally hard. You're so knackered from all the travelling and obviously there's a lot at stake. I  was really close to all the girls and it was hard to think that we would all be sharing the same flight home no matter who had got through.'


It seemed the hard work paid off as Abi was picked as one of Nicole's final 3 to proceed along to the Live shows:


' I just freaked out when I got through... It was so hot so my makeup was already ruined, but I'd made the mistake of wearing loads non waterproof mascara, which just ran all over my face when I burst into tears, I looked a right mess'


she giggles. In the live shows Abi became well known for her musicianship and  seasoned unique takes on classics, such as Bon Jovi's 'Living on a prayer' in 80s week and Gloria Gaynor's 'I will survive' in Disco Week. However Abi says Big Band week was her favourite, when she performed Frank Sinatra's showstopper 'That's Life' accompanied by a 30 piece live orchestra.


She says :


'Yeah, big band week was a special one for me. Although big band isn't really my style, I loved that song so much and being surrounded by all of those incredible musicians was just a real treat...I mean- who really gets the opportunity to do that.'


Ironically, in true 'That's Life' fashion, it was also Abi's last week in the competition, finishing 8th after a tense sing off with friend and fellow category member Hannah Barrett. Gary Barlow commented on the spin off show Xtra factor that it was 'Not Abi's time' and 'The wrong bottom two' with Host Dermot O Leary referring to her as 'so unique, so different.'Mentor Nicole added she was 'gutted' to see Abi leave and that she brought 'so much credibility and truth to the show.'


Abi says of leaving the show:


'Obviously I was gutted to leave, I wanted to stay... But at the same time as much as it was amazing it was so stressful. It was a relief too!'


In reference to a particularly difficult sing off, Abi also added:


'Oh the Hannah thing was awful. But if I was going to loose out to anyone, I would prefer to have lost out to someone who I loved, and that person was Hannah.'


Her performances on the show have racked up over 2 million YouTube views, her arena audition alone holding well over 1 million views, as well as almost 100k following on twitter and thousands more Facebook likes.


Upon leaving the show, Abi embarked on a personal appearance tour of the UK and Ireland performing to crowds of thousands, including a date at London's infamous G-A-Y, where she performed on a bill alongside Ellie Goulding. Abi says other amazing memories where also created on this tour, such as when she performed in Cork, Ireland at Mahon point shopping centre:


'There was like 4,000 people there, all to see me... The crowd was amazing (and slightly crazy) it's a gig I'll never forget.'


Abi also gained a place on the X factor tour, which begins in February 2014 and sees her perform alongside her fellow contestants on 31 arena dates around the UK and Ireland. Naturally she is excited but there is one show she is particularly looking forward to:


'I can't wait to play in the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle- the amount of times I have drove past there as a kid and dreamt of performing in there one day. All my family and friends are going to be there so it is going to be really special for me.'

Christmas and early 2014 has been a time to stop and take a breath, whilst also focusing on doing what she has always loved and done... Songwriting.


'Its nice to finally have some time to myself to write again' 'I have so many experiences to reflect on from the past 6 months so I'm really looking forward to creating some new material off the back of it all.'


She is also developing her YouTube channel and online presence with a new concept #abisweeklycover where she continues her reputation of putting her own spin on things:


'the atmosphere is a far cry from the X factor live shows as I'm just recording them from my bathroom' she laughs 'it has the best acoustics.' 'I have had criticism from some people, saying it's a bit amateur, but I see it as positive, its pleasing those people who have supported me and giving them something to say a little thanks before I go on tour' 'besides I'd like to think its a reflection of me, it's a bit more down to earth and organic, just because I've been on X factor doesn't mean I'm going to start splashing out on big fancy studio settings, that's just not me.'


The covers have racked up thousands of views already. Abi says of her fans:


'they're really lovely, I have a very personal relationship with them and I genuinely feel they want me to succeed. They're feisty too, a bit like me!'


And of her critics:


'everyone's entitled to their own opinion, and I've never set out to, nor would I like to please everyone. I think some people find it hard to see past some of my difficulties on the show but that was just a chapter in my strive to become a musician and songwriter- there is more to me than that. I did it for 4 years before  the show and I will continue to keep going after.' 'As long as people believe in me why should I give up?'

Abi's Diary


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