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Hannah Barrett talks childhood, Croydon and life after X Factor


HANNAH Barrett's X Factor dreams ended with a sing-off against Rough Copy two weeks ago. But the 17-year-old has insisted life has already thrown much tougher trials her way and is determined to be an inspiration to young girls in Croydon.

"I was 14 when I left home for the first time," Hannah told the Advertiser. "I was getting on really badly with my mum at the time. I felt like my stepdad had come along way too early after my dad died and things were really hard for me and my brothers and sisters.

"I came back home but left again when I was 16 and went to live with a friend for a few months before I was found somewhere to live by a charity which helps teenagers who have been kicked out or are homeless."

Hannah worked for Holland & Barrett when she was 16, but lost her job and had to rely on benefits to tide her over.

"Everyone knows how unreliable benefits are and it was really difficult to look after myself and get to college every day.

"Then I got a job in Greggs in Thornton Heath and fitted it in around my school work. It did mean I was working straight after college and coming home late, eating and sleeping, then repeating the whole thing again."

Despite her circumstances, the aspiring singer achieved two Cs and a B in her English Literature, Drama and Performance Studies AS levels earlier this year.

Hannah has said her happiest childhood memories are of her father playing every type of music to her and her siblings when they were little.

"He wanted all of us to play an instrument and become musicians or artists," she said.

"He would introduce us to so much music, jazz, soul, everything. I would play the piano then but don't feel confident to play it on stage right now."

When Hannah was nine, her parents split up and her father died a month later.

"It was awful for me and my brothers and sisters. Our parents had been together for 17 years and then my dad died. He had been ill but we did not expect it at all."

However, the singer said the hardest time in her life was between the age of 14 and 15 when she was excluded from Archbishop Lanfranc School and sent to the Croydon African Caribbean Family Organisation education centre which takes in pupils with behavioural issues.

"That was the hardest thing I've ever done, way harder than the X Factor," she said.

"I was so angry and rebelled a lot and got in trouble at school. I was hanging around with the wrong people and was so rude to teachers. That centre was so strict, I had no freedom or power. I was a real hard nut to crack."

Hannah said she worried about some of the teenagers she had grown up with.

She said: "I never got into crime but there are a lot of people who have lost their way. I see them take that small step and then a gang becomes their family – which way forward is there for them after that?

"So many guys in jail are so smart. I hear about it and just think 'If you put your mind to it, you could be as rich as Bill Gates'.

"So many are really clued up with business ideas. We come from a place that doesn't have much – bad housing and parents on benefits.

"Boys see their mums go hungry to put food on the table and it hurts them, they want to help them. That's why you see some boys on the streets dealing drugs."

The singer said she wanted to provide an inspiration for young girls in Croydon – the ones who think they are "too fat, or their skin is too dark or have been taken advantage of".

"That's why I love Rough Copy too and am rooting for them, they provide inspiration for boys on the street," she said.

"I've listened to their stories and they are really hard, they've been through so much."

The singer has said she intends to break into America's music industry and still has the same dream to become a star.

Hannah Barrett talks childhood, Croydon and life after X Factor

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