First making herself known to the Great British public in 2008 during her first appearance on The X Factor, Annastasia Baker has evolved into an incredible artist in her own right who puts passion, drive, soul and energy into her performances and original material. Now a MOBO Award nominee and winner of the UK's most popular gospel talent show, she's flourished and transformed into a powerhouse vocalist.
Female First got the opportunity to put some questions to Annastasia ahead of the release of her debut album next month, about her music, what we should expect in the coming weeks and months and much more. Read on to find out exactly what she had to say.
For those who may not yet have heard your sound, how best would you describe yourself as an artist?
My sound I would say is quite unique, I have been told I have a powerful vocal and a soulful sound that resonates with people when I sing. I can't put it into a box but to give an idea I would describe it as a mixture of artists such as Fantasia Barrino, Amy Winehouse, Rebecca Ferguson and Tina Turner. All these great, unique vocals influenced me growing up in music, so I guess all mixed into one creates Annastasia Baker.
You're to release your debut album next month 'You Turn', what should we expect from that?
You can expect a really heartfelt album, one that you can relate to, that will inspire, encourage and impact lives. There's feel good music that will get you moving, such as 'Pass It On' and 'New Shoes'.
Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind the record?
First of all, I had to dig deep into my emotions, past experiences and situations and list the kinds of concepts and experiences that I wanted to capture and bring to life on the album. I was part of a writing team who helped me to bring out the stories, reconnect and collectively write the lyrics, then we went on to the recording, and now here are about to release 'You Turn'.
'Pass It On' will be the LP's lead single, what is it about this song that made you want to release it?
The song says it all, 'Pass it On', the love, we don't do that enough. It's so simple, it's all around us and yet we get caught up in other issues or negative things without focusing on the positive. Love is pure, it's great and I think we need to pass it on more. What a better way, share the love and cheer people up because there is so much of it to go around.
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
It's so important for me as I think the best pieces of work come out when you have involvement in it with your own raw, personal view. No one else lived the experiences or know how I felt. That's what makes it a genuine, heartfelt emotion and a personal product.
You were a contestant on The X Factor in 2008 and 2010 - how were those experiences?
They were both amazing, each helped make me who I am today and I'm so grateful as its part of my journey that I had to go through. I learnt so much and it's one of the first places people got to see Annastasia, part of my journey that I'm very grateful for.
What advice do you have for people who may be thinking of applying for The X Factor?
My advice would be, DON'T GIVE UP! Just be yourself. I went up for auditions several times and you have to keep going because when you get a 'no', it doesn't mean you don't have talent, it may mean, 'not right now', 'it's not your time yet' or they don't see or fully understand you at this particular moment in time as there is still some growing to do. It's not that you're not going to make it.
You also won a show called Time2Shine, what was that whole experience like?
That experience was absolutely amazing. As I had the experience of X factor, I went into Time2Shine with a different mindset, a different energy. I didn't want to leave the same way I came in, I was determined, rooting for growth. It paved the way for me.
Last year you were nominated for a MOBO, how did that feel?
Being nominated for a MOBO, that was a phenomenal feeling! I was in Atlanta in the middle of shooting a video, already having so much fun and when I received the news, that just topped it off for me. It had been less than a year and I am truly humbled.
You've got a string of shows coming up throughout the year, why should people come and see you live?
Seeing anyone live is a new and different experience. Coming face to face at my show, you get to connect, be in the environment and atmosphere of my heartfelt performance that they can relate to and enjoy themselves. On stage in live performances, that it where the music comes to life.
Finally, what's next for you?
It's a very exciting time where I will be travelling and embarking on a nationwide tour and I will be performing at Gospel Fest 2015 alongside Grammy Award winning US artist Kirk Franklin in June, which is aamazing as I have grown up listening to his music. My UK tour will be ending at The O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on November 15th, which I am really looking forward to. I'm actually ecstatic as it will be my biggest headlined show to date and it's the day before my birthday, so I can share my music, inspire people and celebrate with so many at the same time.
Annastasia's debut album 'You Turn' is released June 1st on Black Grape Records.
Tour news visit: www.annastasiabaker.co.uk