Holly Brewer has received a fast-track lesson in the highs and lows of the music industry since bursting onto the national scene by singing at the celebrity wedding of Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan two years ago.
The 22-year-old Milton Keynes songstress was given four yesses by Simon Cowell and the rest of the judges on The X Factor, only to be left heartbroken when she was chewed up and spat out by the hit ITV show just days later.
Then in January this year she had the ecstasy of being shortlisted as one of six finalists to represent the UK at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.
Holly brilliantly performed the original song I Wish I Loved You More at the Hammersmith Apollo on BBC2’s Eurovision ‘You Decide’ show to a live TV audience of millions.
But she was pipped to the winning post by Lucie Jones, who will now represent the UK at Eurovision in Kiev next month. Celebrate:MK caught up with Holly over a Latte in Pret at intu Milton Keynes (a soya Latte with vanilla, in Holly’s case), to get the inside track on her whirlwind rise to fame. And there was only one place to start – Eurovision.
“I’ve been gigging regularly for the last three years and a girl I had met in the industry put my name forward to the Eurovision people,” she explained.
“After four auditions and lots of meetings I was told on Christmas Eve that I had got it, so it was the best Christmas present ever!
“The people of Milton Keynes really backed me throughout, they are so amazing and my social media just went crazy.
“I’ve gigged in MK for years, since I was 13, so it’s really nice that when a big opportunity comes up the local public all support you.
“I struggle with that stuff a little bit as I get anxious about replying, and the more messages that come in the more the pressure builds. “I was so nervous as I was first on stage but I gave 110% and I knew I couldn’t have physically given any more – I was exhausted by the end!
“I’m really competitive so there was a part of me that would have loved to have won, but I’ve got that clip for life now, live on BBC2, so that’s better than any show reel I could ever put together.”
Holly’s Eurovision moment in the limelight has worked wonders for her career as she has been inundated with offers to perform around the world.
“I’ve been gigging non-stop since people saw me on the television – mainly corporate gigs,” she said.
“I’ve been doing amazing gigs in London, the Seychelles, Moulon in France, Barcelona, Dubai and Greece. I don’t think of it as a job, it’s my entire life.
“I miss out on a lot of social events with my friends as I’m often gigging from Thursday to Sunday every week. It’s a tiring job but, equally, I love it.”
Next, talk turned to her performance at the wedding of ex-TOWIE star Wright and former Coronation street actress Keegan at Hengrave Hall in Bury St Edmunds in 2015.
Holly said: “I got an email through my website from a wedding planner, who said ‘we’ve got a big wedding we’d like you to do that will be covered by Hello! magazine’.
“When I found out it was Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan I was in shock as I thought they would have wanted someone huge like Ed Sheeran! I couldn’t believe that they’d want me.
“I went along and I played the piano and sang. There were loads of people from the soaps there but I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures – my phone was actually confiscated! It was in the press so that really launched my career to a different level.”
However, in a strange twist of fate, it actually wrecked her chances on The X Factor.
“I went on stage at Wembley in front of Simon, Rita Ora, Cheryl and Nick Grimshaw, and they said ‘we’ve heard about a celebrity wedding that you’ve done’.
“Simon wasn’t impressed because, for him, that made me a wedding singer. But he still gave me a ‘yes’, which was confusing. I got four yesses but the day before boot camp the producers called me to say I was out.
“The media had already labelled me as the next winner of X Factor because I’d done this celebrity wedding and publicly I’d been put through.
“I received countless messages of congratulations but the day before I had received the call to say I was out. It was horrible.”
Holly ended by thanking the MK business community for all the support she’s received.
She said: “When I was little a few businesses came forward to sponsor me, which I’m really grateful for, including one from the local home improvement scene.
“I did Real Music MK, MKFM and lots more. I used to be signed to RGS Music in MK too.
“MK has backed me since I was 13 right up to now, which is a wonderful feeling.”
Visit http://www.hollybrewer.co.uk to find out more about Holly or to book her for an upcoming event. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @hollysbrewer