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Having survived the decadent hedonism of Happy Mondays' early-'90s heyday, backing singer Rowetta became a star in her own right after finishing third in the first series of The X-Factor.
Born in Manchester in 1966 to a Jewish mother and Nigerian father, politician George Idah, she began performing in talent contests at a young age, and after leaving school, pursued a career as a professional club singer. In the late '80s, she provided guest vocals for dance acts Vanilla Sound Corp and Inner City before joining Shaun Ryder's Happy Mondays in 1990. She performed backing vocals on their Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches and Yes, Please albums, and several of their world tours, before the group disbanded in 1993. Apart from an appearance playing herself in Michael Winterbottom's Hacienda-based 24 Hour Party People, she retreated from the industry until 2004, when she auditioned for the first series of The X-Factor. Impressing the judges with a rendition of "Lady Marmalade," she made it through to the live stages, where her Shirley Bassey-style performances and on-stage outbursts made her one of the stars of the show. Finishing third behind pop-opera quartet G4 and blue-eyed soul singer Steve Brookstein, she landed a record deal with Gut Records and released her self-titled debut solo album, a mixture of original compositions and covers of songs by Oasis, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the Beatles. Following its disappointing number 89 chart position, she focused on her theater career, appearing in The Best of Broadway and The Songs of Sister Act before teaming up with New Order's Peter Hook in his new band, The Light, in 2010. Rowetta has also appeared on albums by Simply Red, Groove Armada, and P.J. Proby, presented a show on radio station Gaydio, and her vocals on Sweet Mercy's "Reach Out" were sampled by the Black Eyed Peas on their number one hit "Boom Boom Pow." ~ Jon O'Brien


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