You can take the girl out of Sheffield – but if she is called Lucy Spraggan, she will be back, writes Graham Walker.
The X Factor sensation, who was the most Googled UK artist of 2012, was born down south, raised in Buxton and recently decided to swap London for Brighton.
But give the 22-year-old acoustic, hip-hop, folk singer-songwriter any excuse and she is back up the M1 for the weekend with her pals in the Steel City – her spiritual home.
It is where she was living when millions fell in love with her on TV’s top talent show.
So it was no surprise that she chose one of her favourite haunts – the Owlerton dog stadium – to mix business with pleasure, for a photo shoot to promote forthcoming album, Join The Club.
And her self-penned songs already pay homage to the Sheffield.
“Back to where the streets are paved with stone. I would swap the scent of ocean air for the smell of factory steel and the engineers,” she sings in her latest single, Lighthouse.
Lucy said:”I wrote Lighthouse post The X Factor. When I came off the show I just wanted to get out of London and get away from all the glitz and glamour and everything around. It’s about coming back to Sheffield and just going to the pub and being normal for a bit.
“Down there, everything is put in front of you on a plate, you just want to be back home, chilling out on the sofa.
“I get back to Sheffield quite a bit.
“ I come back any spare weekend I get because all my friends live around Sheffield and it’s tough when you’re in London, because no-one can just like not be at work and come straight down. So I come up whenever I can.
“I’m not the biggest fan of living in London, so I decided to move to Brighton, because there’s more countryside.
“I was born way down south and when I moved to Sheffield I just felt like this was the place. When I come back, this is home. This is where I come back to.”
And Owlerton stadium has a special place in her heart.
She said: “I used to live quite near to it. You can probably see my house from the track, the block at Stannington, where I used to live.
“We used to drive down here and sit in the car park, for ages. By the end of the night I was like a dog expert, every night. But I never won. Sometimes we used to just come down and have a beer.”
It might have been the place which inspired the witty hit that changed her life, Last Night (Beer Fear), about the effects of drink and waking up to realise the errors of what you said and did the night before.
From her 2011 self-released independent album Top Room at the Zoo, she performed the song at The X Factor auditions and it reached number two in the midweek chart before a show rule change forced it to be pulled.
A new version of the song will get another crack at number one when it is released at the end of September as the second single on her debut 13-track studio album, Join the Club, which is due out on Monday, October 7, ahead of a national tour which will see her perform at Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Thursday, October 24.
Her other hits, made famous on the show and at personal appearances, also feature on the album, including Someone and Tea & Toast.
Four extra tracks on the deluxe version includes the song Safe, which she performed at the switch-on of the Christmas lights at Meadowhall shopping centre last year.
Lucy, who has had more than 20 million views on YouTube, said: “Last time we played Sheffield was at Queen’s Social Club, which was a wicked show.
“I’m here on October 24 at the O2 Academy – which is pretty crazy.
“I’ve watched some bands there and wished I was on that stage. It’s just mad.
“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone in Sheffield and everyone who reads The Star for your support and hopefully I’ll see you in Sheffield again soon.”
* Tickets for Lucy’s homecoming at O2 Academy Sheffield can be purchased from the venue in person, call 0844 477 2000 (24 Hour) or buy online at www.o2academysheffield.co.uk.
Visit Lucy’s official web site for full tour dates and more at www.lucyspraggan.com.