How much can a person's life change in one year? Ask Carly Rose Sonenclar.
Last June, the seventh-grader stepped out on a Providence, R.I., stage to audition for the second season of "The X Factor," belting out a powerful rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good."
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And just 12 months later, on Saturday the 14-year-old will headline a concert at Rye Playland, only a few miles from her Mamaroneck home, in front of a crowd of young fans thrilled to see their hometown star. Later this summer, Carly Rose will also perform at major venues in New York City and New Jersey.
"It's crazy to think that this time last year I was auditioning for 'X Factor' and now I'm doing concerts because of 'X Factor,'" Carly Rose said during an interview last week. "It just shows you how much that show can do for you in the course of a year."
Even though she lost the reality competition to Tate Stevens, the teen emerged a rising music star with a passionate online fanbase.
A day before her eighth-grade graduation, Carly Rose sat down with Newsday Westchester at Playland to chat about her upcoming concert, what fans can expect from her debut album, and her summer plans.
In a few days you'll be performing your first concert in Westchester since earning second place on "X Factor." What does it mean to you have the concert here?
Having my concert in my town is really exciting for me . . . Coming back here and then being able to perform for the people that supported me from the beginning, [and]that being my first concert, I think that's really cool.
Anything in particular you're looking forward to about the concert?
I'm just looking forward to performing in general, performing my own show and not having it be like "The X Factor," which I love but, you know, [with that show] there's tons of other acts that people are coming to see. It's kind of nice to know that I've gained a fanbase of people that care enough to come and see me.
Can you drop any hints on what fans can expect to hear?
You can expect some stuff that I did from "X Factor," some new covers and maybe an original.
You've had such a whirlwind year. How have you been adjusting to life after "X Factor"?
My life has completely changed in the course of a year. It's a really amazing show and an amazing platform for people get their name out there. So obviously I owe a lot, if not everything, to that show.
My friends tonight are going to a taping of "X Factor." I'm nostalgic . . . I'm having these crazy memories. So it's crazy to think how much has happened.
Any updates on when we can expect a Carly Rose album? [Her recording option was picked up by Syco Music in March.]
Basically I'm in pre-production on my album, which means that I'm in early stages of it. Some of the [season two "X Factor"] acts have already put out their first singles, which is really cool, and I'm really happy for them.
But I'm taking it slower because I want to make sure that what I put out is really, really good. If I put out something right now, and I'm just rushing to get it out, and it's not really what I want it to be . . . I just feel like I would regret that.
That's not to say that I'm not going to put out something soon, because I don't want to wait too long. [Laughs]
You mention your fans, many of whom discovered you on "X Factor." What's it like having such a loyal fanbase?
I don't think I've quite grasped the fact that I have people who are interested in my life. It means the world to me.
Your fans go crazy for the cover songs you post on YouTube. In particular, your reworking of "Stole My Heart" got a huge response -- you even got a tweet from One Direction's Niall Horan.
It's nice to do that and see what my fans think, and see where their head is at . . . Especially now when I'm making my album, I want to know whether they like it or they don't.
I was really excited when Niall tweeted at me. My friends were freaking out, I was freaking out. It was cool.
When I interviewed you last fall, you said that you appreciated growing up in Westchester because it kept you grounded. After the past year, I imagine that feeling has deepened.
It's just nice to have a place like this to come home to. Coming home from all that craziness in L.A,. just like meetings and people and lights and parties and all that stuff, and then to come home to calm and [my] friends here and a nice little town, that's been important for me.
Have there been any challenges adjusting to life after "X Factor"?
It's different now, having people know who I am. Like when I go with my friends to a Starbucks or something, I'll have to take pictures and stuff like that. Not like, [in a negative], 'oh, I have to take pictures.' But that's just part of it now, and I know that.
"X Factor" is taping now and its third season will debut this fall. Do you have any advice for contestants?
I think that it's really important to differentiate yourself as much as you possibly can. If you go in there and do the most popular song right now the way that it's done, it's really hard to differentiate yourself and have people remember you.
But if you do even a current song that's out right now, and tweak it up and make it your own, they'll remember that little thing you did, and that will keep you in their heads.
Besides your upcoming concerts, what are your plans for the summer?
I'm going to be going away a lot to L.A., and just spending time with friends and doing things I couldn't do during the school year. And then concerts, writing and recording.
I'm really excited. It's gonna be a summer like I've never had before.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
Carly Rose Sonenclar will perform June 29 at Rye Playland at 7 p.m. The standing-room-only show is free with park admission. Reserved stage seating and VIP packages can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com.