Joseph "Joe" McElderry (/məˈkɛldəri/; born 16 June 1991) is an English singer and songwriter. He won the sixth series of the ITV show The X Factor in 2009. His first single "The Climb" reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and Irish Singles Charts. He was also crowned the winner of the second series of Popstar to Operastar in 2011 and the first series of The Jump in 2014.
To date he has released four top 20 albums - two of them reaching the UK top three. He was the first X Factor contestant to release a fourth album. As of 2014, McElderry has sold over 2 million records worldwide.
Born in South Shields, England, McElderry is the only child of Jim and Eileen (née Joyce) McElderry. The couple separated when McElderry was a child. He was raised in a small flat on Tyneside.
McElderry attended Harton Technology College in Lisle Road, South Shields, before joining South Tyneside College to study AS level school qualifications, and Newcastle College to study performing arts. He was the Pride of South Tyneside's Young Performer of the Year in 2008. He studied for BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Advanced Performance) at Newcastle College Performance Academy. He took the role of 'Danny Zuko' in Grease performed at Harton Technology College.
2007-2010: The X Factor and touring:
In X Factor:
McElderry auditioned for The X Factor in 2007 and made it to bootcamp, he then felt he was too young compared to the other contestants and opted to walk away. He auditioned again in 2009 in Manchester and sang Luther Vandross's "Dance with My Father".
Mentored by Cheryl Cole, he made it through to the live finals and was announced the winner on 13 December 2009, beating runner up Olly Murs with his version of "The Climb". McElderry's prize, as winner, was a recording contract with Simon Cowell's Syco record label, whose parent company is Sony Music Entertainment. The contract has a stated value of £1 million, of which £150,000 is a cash advance and the remainder allocated to recording and marketing costs. The single "The Climb" was released as McElderry's debut single.
Along with The X Factor finalists, McElderry recorded vocal for featured on a charity single, a cover of Michael Jackson's hit "You Are Not Alone". It was released in aid of London's Great Ormond Street Hospital. The finalists premiered the song live on the 15 November edition of the programme; the single was available for digital download that day and a physical release followed the day after. The single reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.
McElderry performed the following songs during the contest:
"Dance with My Father"
"Praying for Time"
Final 24 / To Judges' House
"Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
"Where Do Broken Hearts Go"
"Don't Stop Believin'"
"Circle of Life"
Songs from films
"Somebody to Love"
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Wham!/George Michael songs
Week 8 (Quarter Final)
"Could It Be Magic"
Take That songs
"Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
Elton John songs
Week 9 (Semi-final)
"She's Out of My Life"
Michael Jackson songs
Week 10 (Final)
"Dance with My Father"
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (Performed with George Michael)
"Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
"Don't Stop Believin'"
After The X Factor:
McElderry's debut single, "The Climb", was available to download at midnight on 14 December 2009 and was released physically on 16 December 2009. According to industry sources, approximately 100,000 copies of the single were sold on the day of its release but it was not enough to knock Rage Against The Machine off the spot in the UK in its opening week . On 18 December 2009, it was announced that McElderry secured the top spot in the Irish Singles Chart for 11-17 December 2009.
"The Climb" was a contender for 2009's UK Christmas number one, competing against, and losing to, Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name". McElderry's single sold 450,000 compared to Rage Against the Machine's 502,000 after a Facebook-based campaign was started in protest of The X Factor 's dominance of the Christmas number one title. This was the first time since 2004 that the X Factor winning single was denied the top spot for Christmas in the UK Singles Charts. Simon Cowell stated that he was "gutted for Joe because a number one single meant a lot to him. But I have to congratulate Jon and Tracy Morter, who started the Facebook campaign." McElderry's single stayed at number one on the Irish charts for a second week securing him the Irish Christmas number one (18-25 December 2009), and the song moved up to the top spot in the UK Singles Chart on 27 December. The single had the fifth highest sales of all UK singles released in 2009 staying one week at #1, and was the top-selling Irish single of 2009, where it remained at the top spot for four consecutive weeks.
"The Climb" was nominated in the British Single category at the 2010 BRIT Awards but lost out to fellow X Factor contestants JLS. McElderry performed "Don't Stop Believin'" and presented an award at the 15th National Television Awards in London on 20 January 2010. In January 2010, he participated in the Helping Haiti charity single, a cover of "Everybody Hurts" arranged by Simon Cowell in order to raise money for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. McElderry took part in the Great North Run half marathon 21.0975-kilometre (13.1094 mi) race on 19 September 2010 raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust.
McElderry and seven other finalists, Olly Murs, Stacey Solomon, Danyl Johnson, Lloyd Daniels, John & Edward, Jamie Archer and Lucie Jones, appeared in the X Factor Live tour which began on 15 February 2010 at the Echo Arena Liverpool and concluded on 4 April at the SECC. McElderry performed the songs "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", "Love Story", "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", "She's Out of My Life", "Don't Stop Believin'" and his debut single "The Climb" on the tour. On 15 March, it was reported that McElderry had signed a modelling deal with Next Models. He performed on Radio 1's Big Weekend on 22 May 2010, singing an acoustic version of "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Telephone" in the Live Lounge tent and he also performed "Don't Stop Believin'" and his single, "The Climb" on The 5:19 Show. In 2010, McElderry recorded his debut album Wide Awake released on 25 October 2010. Producers of the album included Dallas Austin and John Shanks. He launched the album with a performance at G-A-Y .
2010-11: Wide Awake and Departure from Syco:
The first single released from Wide Awake was "Ambitions", a cover of a song by Norwegian band Donkeyboy. He filmed a music video for the song in September 2010. The video was directed by Nigel Dick.Ambitions premiered on BBC Radio One on 19 September 2010. The single went on sale on 8 October 2010 in Ireland. It went on sale by digital download in United Kingdom on 10 October 2010, with the physical CD available for purchase in the United Kingdom the following day. The song debuted at #6 on the UK Singles Chart and #4 on the Irish Chart.
McElderry's album Wide Awake debuted at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart, with retail sales of 39,405 copies in the country during the album's first week of release. The album fell to number 20 on the chart the following week, and to number 40 the week after that. As of 4 December 2011, 101,454 copies of the album had been sold at retail in the United Kingdom.
"Someone Wake Me Up" was the second single taken from the album. It was released as a single on 5 December 2010 in the United Kingdom. It debuted and peaked at number 68 on the UK Singles Chart.
McElderry was approached by Twentieth Century Fox to record the specially written track, "There's A Place For Us", written by American songstress Carrie Underwood, which features in the soundtrack to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. and was also the B-side to "Someone Wake Me Up". The song was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 2011 for Best Original Song - Motion Picture.
After "Someone Wake Me Up," McElderry released no further singles or albums with Syco. On 15 April 2011, it was reported in the news media that McElderry's contract with Syco would not be renewed when it expired the following month.
No publicly named person from Syco has made an on-the-record comment about the end of the company's relationship with McElderry. In an interview that aired on 18 May 2011 on the television programme North East Tonight, McElderry made his first public comments about his departure from the company. In radio interviews during the month of July 2011, McElderry spoke further about the circumstances of the end of his relationship with Syco. He told Terry Wogan in an interview on BBC Radio 2 that he had actually parted ways with Syco in February 2011. In an interview with Real Radio that aired on 13 July 2011, McElderry, when speaking about his commercial struggles, said: "I think a lot of it was to do with the fact that I went away for so long... I think we left it a bit too late with releasing the album. But I think it's also down to the label." He said that there were "timing issues" and, "We missed out on a few things."
On 14 July 2011, McElderry told BBC Newcastle that he "wasn't happy" when he was with Syco. He said that Syco had made mistakes "timing-wise" and in "the marketing side of things." He added that he was "happy" with his album, Wide Awake, although, if he had to do it over again, "maybe" he would have included "a few more ballads." But he added that the album's songs gave him "some great fast material" to perform alongside ballads when he performed live, and also said that, when he was making the album, he wanted to show that he could be "diverse" and perform fast songs as well as ballads of the type that he had performed on X Factor.
McElderry told Tony Horne that he had a meeting with Syco staff members in February 2011. He told Radio Newcastle that, at the meeting, he expressed his unhappiness with the company, and said to the staff members that the relationship with Syco was not working for him. According to McElderry, the staff members said that the relationship was not working for the company either, and all concerned agreed to go their separate ways. McElderry also told BBC Newcastle: "I just needed to go out and explore on my own and fend for myself a bit instead of being in this huge kind of establishment that kind of protected us. I needed to go out there and be a proper artist and fend for myself, by myself, and do things my way."
McElderry has also stated that his split with Syco was amicable, and there was no "fight" between them. He told Tony Horne, "I'm still great friends with all the team there." He told the Shields Gazette: "I really like Simon Cowell and always think very highly of him. . . . There's no hard feelings there -- there never has been and never will be." He told Capital FM on 19 August 2011 that he was "forever thankful" to Syco and Simon Cowell for the opportunity that they gave him, adding, "I love them to bits." He said in the same interview that he was "a massive fan" of X Factor.
He also denied the report (attributed to an unnamed "friend" in the Daily Mail 's article about Syco's dropping of him) that he was "devastated" when Syco dropped him. He said in radio interviews that he had not been "depressed." He told the Sunday Mirror: "Being dumped by Syco wasn't the end of my world -- it was the opposite. I'm actually glad it happened. People were coming up to me thinking I was going to be depressed but I honestly wasn't. My thoughts were, 'Right, let's get on with it and work out what to do next.'" Later, he told Out in the City magazine: "I mean this in the least big-headed way possible, but it wasn't a depressing time. Obviously, getting dropped by your record label is not an ideal situation, but I just kind of thought, "OK, what's next? Let's move on to the next chapter". I didn't dwell on it. I don't want to say that I wasn't bothered because obviously I care about my music, but I kind of thought: "Right, let's go out and explore who I'm going to release music with next". It was an exciting time, as well as being a kind of wake-up, I suppose.
Also in 2011, McElderry terminated his relationship with Modest! Management, the management company that had managed him since his victory on X Factor. He subsequently hired Angie Jenkison as his new manager. In March 2013 McElderry signed to Touchstone Media/Celeb Agents as his new management.
On 9 May 2011, McElderry performed the song "Something's Coming" from West Side Story at a reception at Buckingham Palace that celebrated young people in the performing arts.
2011: Popstar to Operastar and Classic:
In April 2011 McElderry headlined National Student Pride in Brighton's seafront club Coalition which was attended by students from all over the U.K and sponsored by Ernst & Young. In late January or early February 2011, ITV approached McElderry's management about his being a contestant on the upcoming second series of Popstar to Operastar. McElderry agreed and entered the show, which started on 5 June 2011. He won Popstar to Operastar on 10 July 2011. After the show it was revealed that, in all of the episodes in which he competed, McElderry received more votes than all of the other contestants combined, never receiving less than 58.2% of the total public votes. He defeated Cheryl Baker in the final with 77.1% of the public vote.
On 11 July 2011, McElderry confirmed that he would be recording his second studio album, stating "It's not going to be pop, it's going to be a lot of big, lush ballads. I wanted to do a few more ballads on my first album. It's going to appeal to all my fans. I'm going to sing a few Italian songs. I'm not going to change my voice - I don't want to scare people too much... I can't reveal which label it's with but it's an amazing label." The label was later revealed to be Decca Records. On 24 July 2011, he headlined a free homecoming gig at Bents Park as part of South Tyneside Summer Festival 2011, singing a set list of 20 songs, with over 20,000 people in the audience- the biggest turnout the event has ever had. McElderry also worked as a DJ on Newcastle's Metro Radio.
His album, Classic, was released on 22 August 2011. Classic debuted on the official UK top 40 albums chart at number 2 on the chart that was released on 28 August 2011. The album was certified gold, within 10 days after the release. As of 4 December 2011, 211,317 copies of the album had been sold at retail in the United Kingdom.
McElderry performed at Festival of Remembrance on 12 November 2011, this was the third time performing in front of The Queen. He embarked on his debut solo tour, Classic Tour in November 2011 and appeared on Big River Big Songs: The Tyne, singing the title track, "Big River".
McElderry released a Christmas album titled Classic Christmas on 28 November 2011. During the album's first week of release in the United Kingdom, 34,043 copies of the album were sold at retail in the country, and the album debuted at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart. On 8 December, he performed at Durham Cathedral to an audience of 1,500, singing, "In the Bleak Midwinter" and David Essex's "A Winter's Tale", with a new verse written by Tim Rice. He introduced The Nutcracker at The O2 Arena from 27 December 2011 to 30 December 2011 by singing 3 songs of Classic Christmas, "Adeste Fideles", "Silent Night" and a solo version of "O Holy Night".
2012: Here's What I Believe and musical roles:
In the Classic Tour Programme, McElderry spoke about what he'd like to do for his next album, "I'd really like to spend some time and do some song writing and do some more original songs, like on my first album... I feel like these past 2 years have gone so quick that I want to just step out of the craziness for a minute and write a nice song. Maybe write about what I've experienced." He has also shared his interest in collaborating with a rapper, saying "I always think that when you put a rapper with a singer that shouldn't go, it is the most genius thing as it is so different." On 20 January 2012, he tweeted "I know I'm on holiday ... but just been sent some new songs to listen to for ideas etc ... Can't wait to start recording!!! :D". On 26 January 2012, he tweeted he was making mood boards, song list ideas and references for the album. He spoke about the direction of the album in the Sunday Sun, saying "This album is going to be a new direction, not classical or pop. It is going to be new and just me. People will get what they are expecting, but in a good way - it will be a nice surprise." McElderry started recording the album in February 2012.
In January 2012 McElderry made an appearance on BBC TV series The Magicians. He appeared on Newsround in February 2012 answering questions about what he was like at the age of 10. During the recording of his fourth studio album, he performed at The Royal Albert Hall in support of The Hunger Project, singing "Don't Stop Believin'", "Nessun Dorma" and a duet with Dionne Warwick, "One World, One Song". He was also scheduled to make a guest appearance in the Coronation Street musical, Street of Dreams, singing the finale number "Ghost - Take My Hand" in the show's Newcastle dates, originally set for 29 May and 30 May. However, after the first two shows, the later dates, including the ones on which McElderry was set to perform, were postponed and eventually cancelled. On 3 June 2012, he performed at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, he sang for guests on board a Dunkirk ship, The Viscount. He performed at the Paralympic Flame Festivals at Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Aylesbury.
The album, Here's What I Believe, includes collaborations with Beth Nielsen Chapman, Marcella Detroit and Ludovico Einaudi. It was originally to be released on 17 September but was pushed forward a week to 10 September. It reached number 8 in the charts, making it his third album to reach the top 10.
He made a cameo appearance in a musical version of Dirty Dancing at the Sunderland Empire on Tuesday 25 September. He played Tommy in The Who's Tommy at the Prince Edward Theatre for a one-off appearance on 12 November He also appeared in Thriller - Live alongside Stooshe and Macy Gray. In November 2012, he became a columnist for Gay Times (GT), writing about his music and other recent projects. He wrote columns for 4 issues of the magazine.
After the release of Here's What I Believe, one of the bonus tracks, "Rescue Us" was re-recorded. This version wasn't released officially but received some airplay in the last third of 2012 on various radio stations notably BBC Radio 2, where it was B-Listed for 4 weeks.
2013-present: Set Your Soul Alive Tour and fifth studio album:
On 8 February 2013, McElderry was awarded a Variety Silver Heart award. An event, 'A Tribute to Joe McElderry' was held to celebrate his career so far and where he was presented the award. Money raised on the evening went towards the children's charity 'Variety'. In March 2013, he appeared as a celebrity guest judge during the audition stages on the third series of Comic Relief does Glee Club.
He recorded a charity single with The Royal Mail Choir. The song, Abide with Me, was released independently on 14 April 2013, raising money for Prostate Cancer UK. He took part in Soccer Six on 18 May. In the same month, he released a charity single with Dionne Warwick, One World, One Song, which they had performed the year before at the Royal Albert Hall, raising money for The Hunger Project. He went on tour for the summer of 2013, where he presented a new song, Memory of You. On 17 November, he released the single Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming).
McElderry is currently working on material for his fifth studio album. On 5 April, he released a 13-second preview of one of his new uptempo songs on Twitter and Keek. It was announced on his website that he will be doing a 50 Date Tour throughout the UK in 2014, the Set Your Soul Alive tour.
In December 2013 and January 2014, he played the starring role of Prince Charming in Qdos Entertainment Pantomimes Cinderella at The Beck Theatre, Hayes. This was his pantomime debut, and he starred alongside Shane Richie Jr. for a 38 performance run. His single Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming) featured in the show. He also appeared as a guest on the James Whale Radio Show.
In January 2014, while on a skiing holiday, McElderry entered Channel 4 series hosted by Davina McCall, The Jump, as a last minute replacement to Henry Conway who was injured on the show. McElderry earned a place on the show after a jump off with another celebrity sub, Donal MacIntyre, who would also join the show after the Melinda Messenger withdrew. In February 2014 McElderry was announced the winner, after jumping 17.5 metres off the K40 ski jump.
After finishing the Set Your Soul Alive tour, he appeared on Kerry Ellis' self-titled album in a cover of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life".
In January 2010, he participated in the Helping Haiti charity single, a cover of "Everybody Hurts" arranged by Simon Cowell in order to raise money for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. McElderry took part in the Great North Run half marathon 13.1 mile race on 19 September 2010 raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust, which he is also an ambassador for. He performed at The Ray of Sunshine charity concert on 11 March 2011. Two days later, he performed at Theatre Royal in Newcastle to help raise money for Josie's Dragonfly trust. He also took part in a Comic Relief campaign, where celebrities and prolific Twitter users auctioned off the chance to be followed by a star, it raised £560.
McElderry performed on 13 July 2011 at the Newcastle Teenage Cancer Trust Unit, the acoustic set was streamed live to all other Teenage Cancer Trust units across the country as well as on the website. He ran the Great North Run again in 2011 and 2012, supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust, finishing in 1 hour and 42 minutes in 2011 and his personal best so far in 2012, 1 hour 36 minutes. The singer was put up for auction on QVC in aid of charity and eventually sold for £6,350, the shopping channel set up the auction in the name of Breast Cancer Care. On Sunday 11 March 2012, Joe played a secret acoustic gig to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust at London's iconic 100 Club venue, accompanied by Scottish musician Michael Sweeney on piano and vocals. He performed at the Sunday for Sammy benefit concert in 2012.
On 30 July 2010, McElderry announced on his official website that he is gay The gay charity Stonewall has listed McElderry as a gay role model.
He is frequently asked in interviews whether he is still in touch with his former X Factor mentor Cheryl Cole, he usually replies saying they text each other regularly and see each other whenever they have the chance.
McElderry was harassed by one Twitter user throughout 2010 and 2011. On 24 December 2011, the man was arrested in McElderry's home town of South Shields and later charged with harassment. McElderry's mother, Eileen Joyce, called police claiming she had been followed by a suspicious man in the town's Asda superstore. The court heard that the 52-year-old suspect, Ennis McBride, had travelled to the North East shortly before Christmas and had been staying in a hotel in South Shields at the time of his arrest. McBride made no pleas to the charge and the case was adjourned until February 2012, where he pleaded not guilty. A trial took place on 11 May 2012. A 2-day trial started on 10 September 2012. He was found guilty on 11 September, was fined £1,000 and received a 5-year restraining order.
Awards and nominations:
Recipient / Nominated work
BRIT Award for Best British Single
BT Digital Music Awards for Best Newcomer
Virgin Media Music Award for Best Act of Reality TV Fame
Variety Silver Heart Award
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