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Student Ebru wins through X Factor’s Six Chair Challenge

PUBLISHED: 16:00 22 October 2015

Ebru performing during the Six Chair Challenge on Sunday

Ebru performing during the Six Chair Challenge on Sunday

Archant

As a finalist in the over-25 category on The X Factor, Ebru Gursoy is one step closer to fulfilling her life-long dream.

Ebru performing at her audition on The X FactorEbru performing at her audition on The X Factor

Last weekend, the 27-year-old music student and Islington resident was just one of six to be selected from her category in the Six Chair Challenge – the third stage of the competition.

She was the last of the 17 contestants to go on stage, which didn’t help her to control her nerves.

“Honestly, it was the most brutal thing I have ever done in my life,’ she said. “It felt like we were gladiators going into the arena.

“I had to watch everyone in my category go on stage before me, and heard all the cheers, booing, the cries of ‘get off!’ and ‘switch!’ When you hear that for a good two hours, it can really psych you up. By the time I was called to go on, I was so nervous I could hear my heart pounding against my chest.”

When Ebru found out she had got through to the next round, she broke down in tears – “I was just so happy”, she says.

She will now go through to the Judges’ Houses stage of the competition, where the judges will decide which three of the six remaining contestants will go through to the final live shows.

There, she will be backed by Simon Cowell, who was chosen to mentor the over-25 category following a public vote earlier this month.

The notoriously blunt music mogul appeared to be less than keen: after finding out which category he would be mentoring, he swore in front of a packed Wembley Arena.

“When I saw his reaction, it was very discouraging – but then he came and apologised and later apologised publicly on Twitter as well,” says Ebru. “But now I think he’s happy with his category.”

The singer, who has lived in Angel, Islington for most of her life, comes from close-knit Turkish family who have encouraged her every step of the way.

“I think they are more excited than me,” she says. “Sometimes, when I’m at home in my room, I can hear my mum playing my audition tape over and over again. Regardless of whether I win or not, they’re so proud of the fact that I’m in the top six in my category, out of the around 90,000 that applied to be here.

“It makes me want to fight even harder to get into the top three in my category, just to make them even more proud.”

While Ebru was growing up, her favourite singers were Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.

“I’ve been singing pretty much since I could talk,” she says. “But I decided I really wanted to pursue singing as a career at 13, when I participated in a talent competition at my school. It gave me a real boost in confidence.”

After school, she would attend singing and dancing lessons at St Mary’s Youth Club on Upper Street, which she says helped keep her focused and stopped her from “hanging around the wrong crowd” from school.

Ebru currently studies Creative Musicianship at Tech Music School in Fulham. She has also performed as a backing singer for the likes of Sam Smith, Jessie J and Gabrielle as part of the London Community Gospel Choir.

If she wins the X Factor, Ebru will be given a recording contract and the chance to create her own album.

“This would be the starting point for everything else I want to do in life,” she says. “I want to be a singer who travels around the world and reaches not just the UK, but nation upon nation.

“I don’t just want to sell records – I want my music to touch people’s lives and for them to say: ‘I went through this as well and you really helped me through this situation’.”

So far, she says, her appearances on the X Factor have not led to any big changes in her everyday life.

“Only a few people have recognised me on the street. Right now, I’m just enjoying being able to go to the corner shop without worrying about who’s going to recognise me. But maybe after the Six Chair Challenge, things could change…”


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