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From Van Driver to X Factor Sensation

By, Sergio Burns

Maybe it was an idea he had while driving around London in his van? Something might have crossed his mind while singing along to Ain’t No Sunshine as it played on the radio? Maybe he just had a dream about this being the only life we have, and knew, in that instant, that someday…given the chance?

Whatever brought Ben Haenow to the X Factor and, subsequently, to this point in his life, there is no doubting the man’s unique singing voice. Diamond cut vocals spearing the air, every syllable of every word crystal clear and sharp. He has, no one would deny, a great vocal talent.

Unsurprisingly, Haenow’s performances won the people’s vote on the X Factor every weekend for eight successive shows, including the grand final on December 13, 2014 – though the final vote was not announced until Sunday December 14. That’s the moment Ben closed the door on his van driving days and started his career as a singer.

“I still occasionally drive a van,” the ever popular Ben said tongue-in-cheek, as if he had read our mind. We laughed.

AM caught up with Ben while he was appearing at West FM’s Little Black Dress Charity Event at the Park Hotel, Kilmarnock, helping to raise much needed money for Cash For Kids.

“It has completely changed my life,” Ben said of winning X Factor in 2014. “Something I have always wanted to do for a living, to make a career out of it, and be able to play places like here, to do gigs all over the country, all over the world is something I never thought I would get to do. But to be able to do that off the back of a TV show has been incredible. It has changed my life completely.”

As the winner of the 11th series of ITV’s X Factor Ben Haenow recorded a cover of One Republic’s Something I Need which debuted at number one. It also, of course, topped the charts at Christmas 2014. Ben followed up this success with his debut album the self-titled Ben Haenow , a top ten hit. He then released a follow-up to his first single with Second Hand Heart which featured a duet with Kelly Clarkson.

“Yeah, that song was… to be released as a solo track,” Ben recalled. “We kind of came back to speaking to the label about it, and we were thinking it would be really good to get a female vocal on there. Originally we were going to have Pink, that was one of the suggestions, and then Kelly sort of said that she would like to be on the track.”

Ben reflected on the moment that the decision was made and he was signed up to duet with….

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