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X Factor star-turned-activist Rebecca Ferguson made MBE

Rebecca Ferguson has been honoured for her services to the music industry (Lucy North/PA)
Rebecca Ferguson has been honoured for her services to the music industry (Lucy North/PA)

British singer Rebecca Ferguson first found fame on The X Factor but has since become an activist in the music industry.

The Liverpool-born performer, who was a runner-up on the ITV series in 2010, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the King’s Birthday Honours for her services to the music industry.

The 37-year-old originally studied to become a legal secretary before making her name on the singing competition, beating One Direction to second place while Matt Cardle was named champion.

Rebecca Ferguson during the Manchester audition stage of ITV’s The X Factor
Rebecca Ferguson during the audition stage of ITV’s The X Factor (Ken McKay/Talkback Thames/PA)

Following her success on The X Factor, Ferguson went on to release several albums and became a panellist on ITV’s Loose Women.

Her debut album Heaven, released in 2011, peaked at number three on the UK albums chart.

Ferguson also featured on the Justice Collective’s star-studded remake of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, which triumphed as the UK’s Christmas number one track in 2012.

The singer later turned her hand to activism within the industry.

In 2021, Ferguson met former culture secretary Oliver Dowden to discuss discrimination in the music industry, a meeting which she described at the time as “very productive”.

Oliver Dowden
Former culture secretary Oliver Dowden (Yui Mok/PA)

It came as she campaigned for the introduction of a regulatory body for the sector, which would work to ensure artist welfare.

In September last year, Ferguson gave evidence to MPs on the Women And Equalities Committee as part of a 2023-2024 report into misogyny and discrimination in the UK music industry.

Ferguson criticised music managers and agents, whom she claimed manipulate artists, during the inquiry which examined misogynistic attitudes that exist in the industry and what steps could be taken to improve attitudes and treatment of women.

Earlier this year Ferguson said being vocal about her experience in the music industry has brought her “a lot of peace”.

“I feel like the minute you get completely authentic and completely honest, and you stop holding secrets, you just become totally free,” she told Anita Rani on BBC Radio 2.

“I felt like it was the best thing I’ve ever done. Just acknowledging what has happened. Being vocal, speaking out, it brought me a lot of peace.

“Suddenly I just felt unafraid and I did feel like it was empowering.”

Rebecca Ferguson attending the Brit Awards 2024 in London
Rebecca Ferguson attending the Brit Awards 2024 (Ian West/PA)

Ferguson also previously called on media watchdog Ofcom to conduct an investigation into reality TV shows to “ensure the future safety of contestants”.

On X, formerly Twitter, she posted a screenshot of an email which she said she sent to ITV and Ofcom in 2021 making a “formal complaint” in relation to the treatment of contestants on reality shows but said “my concerns appeared to be fobbed off”.

At the time, a spokesperson for Ofcom said they “listened carefully to the extent of her concerns about the treatment of contestants during her time on The X Factor in 2010” when they met her virtually in 2021.

A statement from ITV said the broadcaster was “committed to having in place suitable processes to protect the mental health and welfare of programme participants”.

In 2016, Ferguson revealed she had been abused in a children’s home at the age of eight.

The revelation came on Loose Women, in which she described the difficulty in having “strong self-esteem” if someone has taken advantage of you at a young age.

In 2022, Ferguson married sports agent Jonny Hughes.