Despite initially being the favorite to win, pop-soul singer/songwriter Ella Henderson finished in only sixth place on the 2012 season of the U.K.’s X Factor. However, she still secured a deal with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music, becoming the series’ lowest-ranked contestant to see her debut single enter the charts at number one.
Born on January 12, 1996 in the village of Tetney in Lincolnshire, England, Henderson developed a love of music early, teaching herself to play the piano before the age of ten. She won a scholarship to the prestigious Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, where she boarded until the age of 16. Almost immediately upon leaving school, she auditioned for The X Factor with her self-penned song “Missed.” Winning a place on the show, she became a firm favorite to win but eventually lost out to rocker James Arthur in the public vote. Her departure from the show was considered one of the biggest upsets in its history, and launched a slew of celebrity tweets in her support. Simon Cowell obviously believed in her, for he signed her to his Syco label, after which she spent a year in the studio writing and recording her debut album. She worked with a number of big names including Babyface, Salaam Remi, and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote her debut single, the big, beat-heavy, retro-soul “Ghost.”
Henderson’s powerful, sultry voice, confessional lyrics, and stylish look inspired by the vintage fashion with which she had been enamored since childhood, combined with the public’s fond memories of her tenure on The X Factor, shot her to fame, and “Ghost” debuted on the U.K. singles chart at number one, spending eight consecutive weeks in the Top Five. Her second single, “Glow,” co-written and produced by Steve Mac, had a more electronic sound. Her debut album, Chapter One, was released in October 2014. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi