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From No. 1 hits to upst relentless rise is driven
Jessie — aka Jessica Ellen Cornish — is the pop star of the moment. The whip- smart 24- year- old Essex girl has proved to be the jewel in the crown of the BBC’S hit Saturday night talent show The Voice and Simon Cowell has — very publicly — tried to steal her for his new series of The X Factor. All this on top of a dizzyingly fast-paced music career. Tulisa Contostavlos describes her as ‘the cleverest and most wicked girl I know’.
At the age of 11 she was starring in a West End show and by 16 she was personally asked by Andrew Lloyd Webber to audition for Evita (she was later deemed too young). She attended the Brit performing arts school with Leona Lewis and Adele and got her big break supporting US rap star Chris Brown on stage, while Miley Cyrus took her song Party In The USA to the top of the US charts. Jessie’s own debut album, Who You Are, went triple platinum and spawned six hits, including the No. 1 smash Price Tag.
She is known for her in-your-face lyrics, don’t- give- a- damn attitude and those ultra-tight catsuits — but there’s a lot more to Jessie J than a clever new image and a ratings-grabbing TV show. A lot of people have the wrong impression of me. They think I’m this loud, outrageous, rebellious thing. I’m not that girl. What happens is an image gets created and people believe it. Yes, I love being on stage, I love saying what’s important to me, I love what I do, but I’m the girl who goes home to her parents on a day off, has a meal at Nando’s with her mates and celebrates a great night with half a shandy. That’s who I am. I don’t drink to excess and I don’t do drugs. What I find shocking is that people are actually shocked when I say I don’t do drugs. When did it become more surprising not to do drugs than to do them? To me that’s just mad. I’ve wanted to do what I’m doing now since I was about four. I’ve always been incredibly focused — too focused to get sidetracked with partying. I will have a drink, probably a shandy, but I can’t do what I do with a hangover. I’m too conscious of my health and the need to give 100 per cent to my job. I’m in an unbelievably privileged position, and it’s my job to stay focused, stay healthy and do what I do as well as I possibly can. My illness is definitely a huge part of me. I think of myself as half musician, half therapist. When I was a child I was diagnosed with a heart problem [an irregular heartbeat], and at 18 I had a minor stroke. I spent a lot of time in Great Ormond Street Hospital. My song Big White Room was written about a boy in my ward who didn’t survive his operation. I had to write about how that experience made me feel. It shapes your life. It changes you. You should do what you believe in, appreciate what you have, stay close to the people who love you. I apologise in advance for pulling so many silly faces on The Voice. I can’t help myself. People don’t realise that my whole background is in musical theatre, and that musicals are where I started and doing shows in the West End was what it was all about for me as a kid. So it’s just been drummed into me: exaggerate those expressions, pull big, expressive faces. I see myself doing it and I’m like, ‘Jessie, NO!’ But I can’t stop it. My big dream one day is to do my own show in the West End. I’ve got an idea for one which I want to write, but there are so many things going on in my life at the moment; I’ll just have to wait for the right time. It’s definitely something I want to do, though. I’m still getting used to celebrity. I’ve only really been in the spotlight for a year or so. I haven’t changed at all, but everything around me has. I’m very aware I mustn’t start living my life in a bubble. I see that happening to people around me and I don’t want that for myself. I have a really small team around me who I trust, and I’m incredibly close to my mum, my dad and my two amazing older sisters and their kids. My family keep me grounded. I sat at home with my mum and dad in my PJS to watch myself on The Voice. That was a really nice moment. I took it as a massive compliment when Simon Cowell said he wanted me as a judge on The X Factor. I love Simon; he’s a wonderful person and I really respect him as a businessman. I’ve hung out with him in LA and he’s very funny and really warm. I’ve been on both of his shows, on Britain’s Got Talent and helping Tulisa [Contostavlos] pick her finalists on The X Factor. But The Voice is what I’m all about; it’s just about the music, and that’s what