NEW YORK, June 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Syco/Columbia Records recording artist Rebecca Ferguson, the British X-Factor sensation who has topped the U.K. charts for months, made her breakthrough in the U.S. market at #23 on the Billboard 200 with the release of Heaven, which has already become a double-platinum selling album in England.
The album, which she co-wrote, has received glowing reviews and Ferguson was warmly received by two taste-making American morning shows, the Today Show and The View. And message boards at music sites, including iTunes, were soon filled with listeners who saw her performances and wanted to find out more. "I just heard her on The View and I purchased the album," wrote one new fan on iTunes. "Her songs are like poetry with music playing in the background."
The critics have been equally as glowing in their praise. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News featured Rebecca and her album at the top of his weekly Top Ten list, putting her first because "she is a singer of subtlety and grace." In a longer review he wrote that, "it's the careful way she builds the drama of a song that most wows. In grand ballads like 'Shoulder to Shoulder' or 'Teach Me How to Be Loved,' Ferguson belts, swoops, whispers and soars, measuring shifting emotions into soliloquies of sound. Her uncommon phrasing traces a song's full plot, ringing every bit of meaning from the lyric. It's what great singers do: tell us stories in song."
Entertainment Weekly awarded Heaven an A-. They said, "Amy (as in Winehouse) and Aretha (as in you-know-who) both come to mind on the U.K. X Factor [runner-up's] full-throated debut. The soul chanteuse unspools 11 gorgeous tracks, led by the epic single "Nothing's Real but Love."
And People magazine was equally as enthusiastic, bestowing 3-1/2 stars on the album. "In the wake of Adele, those soulful British divas just keep coming," said the magazine. "On her divine debut, Ferguson ... displays an Aretha-tinged voice that takes everything she touches higher."
The music arbiters at iTunes were so taken with "Nothing's Real But Love" that they made it their Single of the Week, offering it to users as a free download. In introducing her to a new audience of American music fans the iTunes producers wrote, "Her voice – with echoes of Amy Winehouse and Otis Redding – embodies soul distilled to its purest essence. It's a compelling instrument for 'Nothing's Real But Love': an idealistic plea to put human hearts before materialistic concerns."
Almost every single review gave Heaven five stars. Among the iTunes users comments:
- "All I can say is that this is [an] amazing album. Adele may have met her musical match. Rebecca is amazing and her voice sends chills up my spine. This album will be the best of the year."
- "People need to know about this woman; it's time to help make R&B music … ACTUAL R&B come back to life. Show this album to everyone you know, it's impossible to dislike."
- "Best album I've gotten this year. She is the VOICE."
- "Amazing – This is what the music world needed."
- "It's funny, on these reality competition shows, the winners are often left behind and the true talent are the runners-up. Rebecca is one of those types."
- "She is my new favorite. I must have played 'Shoulder to Shoulder' a hundred times already!"
- "If this album does not demonstrate true and raw talent, I don't know what does."
Rebecca's backstory is already legend in her native country: A single mom of two, she struggled to make ends meet as she pursued her dream of being a singer. After entering a program to become a legal secretary, she took one more shot, auditioning for the X Factor. Her first performance, which has been viewed more than 4.6 million times on YouTube, was the Sam Cooke classic "A Change is Gonna Come." She rocked the house and floored the judges. Simon Cowell told her point blank, "I think potentially you have an incredible voice."
Rebecca recently embarked on her first ever UK and Ireland tour in February and March. Her fellow Liverpudlians were thrilled when their beloved "Becky" made it back home. They packed the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to watch her perform. "Like the Motown divas she draws inspiration from, there's a sense that she means every word she sings," wrote the critic for the Liverpool Echo. "Her star quality may have first been heralded by Simon Cowell, but it will be her talent that sees that her stellar career lasts the distance."
SOURCE Syco/Columbia Records