16-year-old Ella Henderson celebrated the life of her late grandpa in a poignant audition on The X Factor with her original song “Missed”. The English teen has been writing songs since she was 13 years old, and in that mere three years, she’s developed a remarkable writing style that showcases her emotive R&B vocals.
The English high school student, who hails from Lincolnshire village Tetley, credited her grandfather Bill with inspiring her to become a singer. She said “I used to sing for him all the time. I used to put on little shows for him in the living room. It really put a smile on her face. This song is a way of me saying goodbye to my grandad.” Check out her audition below, which is among the most popular X Factor auditions ever recorded, with 46 million views and counting.
Comparisons to a young Adele come to mind when watching Ella sing – a fantastically talented teen English singer-songwriter who has a knack for weaving personal stories into R&B anthems. It’s one thing to be a really great singer but to combine that with such a songwriting talent at just 16 is exceptionally rare, which the judges immediately recognized.
Mel B gave effusive praise after hearing Ella, calling her audition absolutely incredible. She said “Those words I’m sure hit a chord with everyone. Your songwriting is so clever. It made me go into my own little world and go like ‘oh my God, I felt like that at one point’, and that’s hard to do as a songwriter. And when you sang it, you made me believe every single word. I was right there with you.” Later in the season Ella sang Cher’s “Believe”, which you can hear below.
Louis Walsh was also a big fan, saying he couldn’t believe Ella was only 16. He said “That was a brilliant audition – absolutely brilliant. You’re a class act.” Ella’s performance clearly made an impact on Nicole Scherzinger as well, as she said “you are the one person that I personally felt I really want to mentor. I really do – I see something so special in you. There’s just a spark and you’re just a star.” Naturally the judges followed these rave reviews up with four yes votes, pleasing the audience who were clearly on team Ella all the way.
Ella progressed to week seven in the series but was cut before the quarter final round after a deadlock that was resolved by a narrow audience vote. She was initially a strong favourite to win the entire competition, and presenter Dermot O’Leary said her elimination was “one of the biggest shocks we’ve ever had on the show.” Celebrities such as Adele, Cher, Lily Allen and Simon Cowell made public their support and esteem for Ella after her surprise exit.
Ella was destined for bigger and better things, as two years later she dropped her debut album Chapter One, which went to number one in her homeland. Last year she followed it up with her sophomore effort Everything I Didn’t Say, which also reached the UK top 10. If you would like to see more from Ella Henderson, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel or follow her on Instagram.