For 10 years now, the X Factor has dominated British television sets on Saturday night.
Winners and losers of the show have had their fair share of Christmas number ones and tabloid ridicule but for the show’s first ever winner, Steve Brookstein, comes a new chapter in his music career with his first studio album in nine years, ‘Forgotten Man’.
The soul man of X Factor first wowed audiences with performances of smooth hits like ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ and ‘Let’s Stay Together’. After winning the show, massive success followed with his first album ‘Heart and Soul’, which reached number one in the charts. Unfortunately, due to disputes over his second album, Steve was dropped by his record label.
Steve’s return to music has been hard. “To get out and make an album that was something I really wanted to do but I just didn’t know really what type of album I wanted to make. I got off to such an awkward start, my first album went to number 1 but it wasn’t really the sort of album that I envisaged making so it kind of left me a bit lost.”
After almost a decade of relative anonymity, Steve admits that it will be difficult to make his mark in the music industry again. “It’s going be an uphill struggle because it’s been 9 years since I had that number 1 album and single before it all went wrong.”
Steve’s newest album includes some soul hits and original songs but it’s influenced mostly by the musician’s fight for his career. “The album is called ‘Forgotten Man’ and it’s inspired by a song of the same name by David Ruffin, the lead singer of the Temptations. The album is not only about forgotten people but I’m trying to acknowledge the lesser known soul singers who did some incredible music.”
The most important thing for Steve was to get to the fans. “I’ve got people who still like what I do but it’s getting them to the same place to see a gig,” explained Steve. “There are going to be some ups and downs on the way, there are going to be some hard gigs.”
Taking his album around the UK, Steve will be performing in the likes of London, Exeter and Bournemouth across November. “This is not an X Factor show Hen night, I’m coming along with my guitarist and it’s all about the songs. I kind of just wanted to connect with people who like good music as opposed to being in the X Factor. Getting back out there is going to be quite a weird experience; you just have no idea what people are going to think.”
Alongside the album and tour, Steve is also releasing a new book, ‘Getting Over the X’. Centred on his experience in the music industry after the X Factor, Steve tackled tension with Simon Cowell and renowned publicist Max Clifford. “He was able to manipulate the tabloid press; he sets an agenda, and a narrative that people bind to and a belief structure that makes life difficult for the person at the centre,” adding, “doors closed very quickly”.
Steve isn’t naïve to the struggle he will face trying to break into the industry again but just wants to provide fans with the music he truly wants to make. “I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be a slow process to get back to where it was before but I think the music is good enough. I think the people who voted for me on the X Factor are going to like my tour; they are going to like what I do now.”