It is nearly three years since Leeds country singer Carolynne Poole appeared in The X-Factor 2012 . As she prepares to launch her first album she tells Catherine Scott how her life has changed.
Gary Barlow called her “supremely talented” and threatened to quit The X Factor after she was controversially kicked off the 2012 series.
But pragmatic Leeds lass Carolynne Poole has put all that behind her and is now forging ahead with her own career, launching her debut single next month with an album and tour hot on its heels. “I don’t regret taking part in X Factor, but I have moved on,” says the 34-year-old from Bramley.
Country singer Carolynne said Britain just wasn’t ready for her style of music, but she is hoping tastes will have changed.
“You’d say country music to people and they would automatically think of old fashioned Country and Western, but I do think all that is changing with the like of Taylor Swift and Shania Twain.”
2012 was the second time Carolynne had appeared in X-Factor. The first time she was on Louis’s team and was criticised for not connecting emotionally with her audience.
But little did people know that at the time she was coping with failed IVF and marriage troubles.
“It was ironic I was criticised for a lack of emotion when inside I was going through so much. We had been trying for a baby and IVF had failed, my marriage had failed and I just felt like a failure. And then I went on X Factor and went as far as the judges’ houses and I felt even more like a failure. But when I went back in 2012 I was in a better place. I felt much more ready for it. I went in with my eyes open. It is what it is.”
Carolynne was controversially knocked out of the show when Louise Walsh seemed to change his mind about who he wanted to save. In the end Rylan Clark was saved and Carolynne’s mentor, Gary Barlow, stormed off.
But, looking back, Carolynne thinks her early exit could have been a godsend.
“X Factor is pretty restrictive creatively, They really tie you in. I have spent some of the last year in America writing songs, I have been in Nashville, the home of country music and now I am really excited to be releasing my first single and then my album which we have decided to do ourselves, which is really brace but also really exciting.”
Carolynne got in to country music at an early age.
“While all my friends were listening to Take That I was secretly listening to country music as my Nan and Auntie were big fans and took me to country clubs with them.. I started singing and writing my own songs at a really young age.”
Carolynne was in her first band at just 14 years old and they toured the local clubs around Leeds.
“There’s no tougher audience and I have massive respect for artists working the club scene but it is easy to get stuck in a rut. It is hard to make it big especially with country music,” she says.
At 18 she decided that to pursue her career she needed to move to London.
“Three or four months after finishing my A-Levels I woke my mum and dad at 4am and said I was moving to London. They thought I was joking, but by 7am I was on a coach. I’ve always been a bit spontaneous.”
She left and didn’t return to Leeds for eight months.
Carolynne worked as a session singer while writing her own songs at night.
“It was really hard, I lived in a box room. I’d saved up some money working in a carpet shop. I was lucky that my parents have always been very supportive, they encouraged me to follow my dreams.”
Although she found London a struggle, as a determined young Carolynne was determined to make it.
“Ten years ago you could wait outside record producers’ offices waiting for them to come out and give them your CV. I would keep going back and tell them to listen to me. With the advent of shows such as X Factor that just isn’t possible any more.”
Persistence paid off for Carolynne and she landed her first publishing contract.
She also got through to the final 15 auditioning for S Club 7 and made the final of BBC’s Fame Academy.
“I decided to do X-Factor to try to raise awareness of country music. It is a gamble,” she admits.
“But I really didn’t have anything to lose. It gave me exposure on prime time television. I’m not Oasis, I am from Leeds, I am a Yorkshire girl and so it wasn’t going to damage me professionally.”
Although emotionally she says it did take its toll.
She had married professional footballer David Poole in 2008 and had undergone two failed attempts at IVF. The couple split in 2011, although they are still friends.
After the X Factor Carolynne decided she wanted to fulfil her dream and head to the heart and soul of country music, Nashville. During her five months in Arizona, Nashville and LA, she not only gigged but spent time in a studio in Nashville with Jeff Silbar, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter. Jeff has penned songs for the country music elite including Dolly Parton, Kenny Rodgers, Willie Nelson, as well as Fleetwood Mac, Sheena Easton and Gladys Knight. Jeff also wrote Wind Beneath My Wings.
Carolynne will head back to Nashville to perform at one of the many country music festivals in June this year, plus she is excited to release her first record in the UK, I Love You But Shut Up next month, featuring guitar legend Albert Lee.
“I was amazed how much they loved my music over there. I felt I could really by myself and they seem to love it. I have been working with some amazing people. All I want now is for people over here to enjoy my music. That means everything to me.”
For the moment home is Manchester but her family is still very much Leeds-based. “I get back when I can,” she says. “I never look too far into the future – I have learnt that’s not a great idea. So I am just enjoying what I am doing.”