‘There’s Not Someone To Ask For Advice’ – Viral Star Charlotte Awbery Speaks To Grazia

The Shallow singing sensation discusses the difficulties of instant fame, and her next steps.

Charlotte Awbery

by grazia |
Updated on

A month ago, you wouldn’t have heard of Charlotte Awbery. She was not on the radar of music industry bigwigs. Her social media following was not particularly remarkable. And yet, in the past few weeks, thanks to the incredible and mercurial concept of viral fame, her face and voice have been catapulted into international recognisability. But, as she tells Grazia, it’s not that easy being thrust into the limelight with little warning.

It all started with a video, in which a man with a microphone barked a line of a song to passerby and asked them to complete the lyric. Most of us would scuttle past. Perhaps mumble the answer. But Charlotte was prepared, blasting back her rendition of Shallow that earned millions of views online, taking her to LA and back again with a stop-off on Ellen DeGeneres’ famous chat show chair.

Speaking to Grazia on a rainy afternoon, she says she wishes she was still in California. ‘I would have laughed at you if you’d told me about this a month ago’, she says. ‘And said “don’t be silly.” My life at the minute is mad. I wish I lived in LA but I had to come back: I have things to do.'

This fame has been hard-fought. Charlotte, from Romford in Essex, had built a life of balance: passion vs practicality. She would work in the week, then book gigs in bars and restaurants on the weekends. But then, she decided she had to take a chance.

‘I’d be earning money, then going out singing, because it’s what I love to do,' she says. 'Did I wonder if it might not happen? Of course I did. But it made me more determined. As the years went on, through word of mouth, I got busier. And I decided to try singing full-time. And now this has happened! I keep saying this, but it’s true: you could not write this. This is bizarre.’

She has sung for as long as she can remember. She says her mum tells her stories of bathing her in the sink as a baby, her ears pricking up when the radio played. I compare her to the girl with the golden hair of ABBA’s Thank You For The Music – ‘Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk/She says I began to sing long before I could talk’ – and she chuckles. It could have been written for her.’I’ve sung for as long as I can remember,' she says. 'Mum and dad were always playing music. It was just part of growing up. I’ve always been musical, and I could sing! I love singing.’

Her fight to gain the ears of the masses has, undoubtedly, paid off, and she couldn’t be happier. But she is also alarmingly honest: in some ways, she’s not really sure how to handle it.

‘It was all so lovely, but it was so overwhelming at the same time. I mean, I don’t know anyone that this has ever happened to. There’s not someone to ask for advice. It’s lovely but I’m just a normal person. It is so amazing but my phone was blowing up: I couldn’t go on my phone at one point. I just didn’t know what to do.’

I remind her to take a breath once in a while. To have moments of calm amidst the mania, and she agrees. ‘I’ve got a good family, and very good friends around me. Everyone keeps me grounded, my feet firmly on the ground. And that helps, having a support circle. I take a lot of my mum and dad’s advice. That helps.’

With millions knowing her face, her voice and her remarkable, blowdried mane – ‘I do it all myself!’ she explains excitedly ‘I section it up into three or four sections and blowdry it myself. That’s what gives me the flicky look. My mum was my role model growing up. I used to watch her.’ Her next mission is representing something else: herself, as an artist in her own right. Her forthcoming album will, she hopes, achieve this. ‘I’ve got a very powerful voice,’ she says, ‘so there are a few big ballads. And the other tracks are poppy, and fun. Sort of feel-good songs really.’

With Lady Gaga announcing a forthcoming London gig, Charlotte vows to be in the audience. ‘I love Gaga,’ she says. ‘But then I loved Whitney. Celine Dion. Ella Fitzgerald. Aretha Franklin. My nan and pops loved their music so I listened to it as well. My pops loved Frank Sinatra. And I love Dua Lipa. Jess Glynne. The list goes on.’

Shallow may be a Gaga song, but Charlotte is now, unequivocally, part of its history. If Gaga sees her, singing along in the front row, would it be wishful thinking to hope she might pluck her from the crowd? As this latest viral story has shown, stranger things have happened.

READ MORE: Viral Queen, Charlotte Awbery, Performs Lady Gaga's Shallow On Ellen

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