It’s been a long time coming but in two weeks time, six years after being runner-up on The X Factor, Stacey Solomon releases her first album, Shy.
The former pupil of King Solomon High School tells Suzanne Baum why now feels the right time to launch her music career and how she juggles work with being a single mother.
For someone who appears publicly to be loud, bubbly and extremely outgoing, I am surprised to hear Stacey Solomon describe herself as shy. Having made her name on The X Factor, taken the crown on I’m a Celebrity and written an autobiography at the age of 25, it is difficult to imagine that Solomon is anything other than super-confident. What’s more, having watched her recent appearance on Channel 4’s The Jump that saw her compete in numerous skiing challenges against other celebrities, I can only imagine she must have had to possess nerves of steel to cope with such a task!
“I know it is hard to believe because I appear quite outgoing and outspoken but underneath it all I am a very shy person,” Solomon tells me. “The album is about me so it made sense to title it Shy.”
As to why it has taken her so long to get around to writing an album, Solomon acknowledges: “It’s about time, I know, but I wanted to wait until the right moment and ensure that I had developed the ideal skills to be able to pen my own songs.
“ I’ve been lucky enough to do so many things as a result of the X Factor and now that finally the album is complete, I’m really, really proud that I got to do it at a time that was right for me.”
When it comes to inspiration for her music – the lead single, also called Shy, has been co-written with Rita Ora- Solomon points to Dannii Minogue as one of her biggest idols.
“I look up to so many people but Dannii is the one person who has been a real inspiration to me.
“She has been so supportive ever since I was on The X Factor. Everything I do, she always sends me a little text to give me encouragement.”
As well as Rita Ora, the 11-track album features a contribution from Lily Allen, but much of the material has been written by Stacey herself to “reflect my personality and artistic style.”
Widely feted as a national sweetheart, Essex-girl Solomon could be forgiven for having an air of arrogance about her yet there seems to be not a bad bone in her body. Unlike other celebrities who have appeared on reality shows (Solomon has had her fair share) there have been no kiss and tell stories sold about her. So how does she stay so grounded, I ask?
“I have a very good network of friends and family that I know I can rely on. They keep everything normal for me. I focus on the important things in life.”
And that it seems is her two children, Zach (who has just turned 7) and two-year-old Leighton.
“I am the same as all working mothers. My kids are my biggest priority and they always will be.
“Everything I do, I have to make sure that it works with them. I love my job, but my kids will always come first.”
Although being a single working mother has been difficult, Solomon is lucky that she has not had to look too far for childcare.
“I am very lucky to have very good support. My family are amazing,” she adds.
It seems unlikely that Solomon’s sons will follow her into singing. Solomon told me that whilst they are always trying to sing along with her they are pretty much tone deaf.
“The kids have seen me at work in the studio as I feel it is important for them to see mummy at work so they understand exactly what I do.”
Do they find it amusing that their mother is a household name?
“It’s strange for them when I get recognised on the streets but I love meeting people and it is great to know they are excited about the work I do. It can be a tricky business to be in so I enjoy the positiveness that people show towards me.
“I learnt on the X Factor to enjoy every moment and every opportunity. That is something I try and do every day of my life. I have always wanted to make music, but I also love all the other opportunities that have come my way.”
Fame is known to affect many people yet Solomon feels she is still the same girl she was before the X Factor.
“So many years have gone by since then yet I am still me. I am not going to change.
“You have to live each moment for what it is and right now I’m proud of my family, my work and the fact I have an album to my name.”
It may be six years since she first burst onto our TV screens, but there is no doubt Solomon certainly still has the X Factor!
Stacey Solomon releases Shy on April 13. The track serves as the lead single from her debut album of the same name, which follows on April 20.