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X Factor star Alexandra Burke’s advice for those disappointed with their GCSE results

Ms Burke speaks to the Tribune as she joins cast of Chicago in the West End

24 August, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Alexandra Burke playing Roxie Hart in Chicago (Credit: Matt Crockett)


IF you or your child are unhappy with their GCSE results, X Factor star Alexandra Burke has a message for you – “it doesn’t matter about your grades”.

Speaking to the Tribune this week, Ms Burke, 29, who grew up off Caledonian Road and attended Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, imparted advice for those who opened their results envelope this month.

“Listen, my message to any young person going through GCSEs is, it doesn’t matter about your grades. Don’t be too disheartened. Work hard, live and breathe what you want. Don’t become complacent. You can achieve what other people think is impossible,” she said.

Ms Burke shot to fame in ITV’s X Factor back in 2008 after winning the show by singing a cover version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Her former music teacher Sarah Beagley said Ms Burke was a “great student” who studied both music and dance for her GCSEs and starred in school performances. Since then she has released numerous hit records, come second in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and has performed in musicals in the West End.

But she has never forgotten her Islington roots. “I am Islington through and through. My family home is still there – Islington is where my heart is,” she said.

“I’m so pleased my mum moved there. It’s an incredible place and always has my heart. I have such amazing memories of being there as a child.”

Ms Burke’s mother, Melissa Bell, died last August. She was a famous singer in her own right and fronted R&B band Soul II Soul. Ms Bell regularly featured in the Tribune as we supported her daughter through the X Factor with our “Vote for Alex” campaign.

The Phoenix Theatre by Tottenham Court Road station 

Of the changes she’s witnessed in the borough, Ms Burke said: “Cally’s changed big time. It’s come up even more and it’s definitely changed – there are more flats, it’s more expensive.

“Now there’s a Costa coffee, Starbucks and Tesco.”

The singer is busy performing as Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago, currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre. She said she was chosen at the last minute to go on stage after a performer dropped out, but that it’s been “amazing so far”.

Joining Liza Minnelli and Renée Zellweger, Ms Burke is in good company playing the femme fatale in the production set in 1920s Chicago.

She said: “I had my first performance on Monday and I’ve received a lot of love for it online. I had to learn the script in three weeks and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“Everyone should get here before Martin Kemp leaves. It’s the most amazing show. All these people who are part of the show work so hard. There’s such an amazing family backstage. I’ve never witnessed that. You must come and see the show.”

Former EastEnders star Kemp will be in Chicago, which originally debuted in Broadway back in 1975, until September 1, while Ms Burke will appear in the production until October 14.

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