Boro Backing James Arthur Bongo to X Factor Glory
By David Mohan/Rob Nichols
Saturday 08 Dec 2012 09:48:00
Browse all Music articles


James Arthur, from King of the Bongo to X Factor Final in eight months.

With the backing of the Boro squad and Boro manager he now faces his X factor final frontier and who knows where that path to glory might take him. At the start of the year he was bidding to win a battle of the bands and quite literally singing for his supper, this weekend the whole of Teesside is backing him. A win for Boro at Peterborough and James on the X Factor would make for an incredible double.

In a week where he made a glorious homecoming with mentor, Nicole Sherzinger, James Arthur is poised for superstardom, fame and fortune. He was blown away by an incredible homecoming in Saltburn and Middlesbrough. A packed out Town Hall roared the Saltburn singer through a short set building up to Homecoming Glory by Adele. How apt that song was. But eight months ago it was in an altogether different, more infamous venue where he was putting his music on the breadline.

James Arthur BongoJames was first on the bill in an epic Battle of the Bands at Middlesbrough most famed and infamous Club Bongo International. The competition had taken in two venues and it seemed like the best part of a year to complete. But not even a late, late cancellation of the final and a re-run several months later could prevent the talents of James Arthur rising to the top and scooping the top prize. Eight months later and the King of the Bongo is in the X Factor final and on the verge of being crowned King of the Pop world. It all goes to prove there is nothing so surreal as life itself.

Fans queued for hours in the sleet and rain to get tickets for the Town Hall show, they then queued for hours again to get to the front near the stage or just to cheer as his car drew up outside. The fans were joined by Boro players headed up by former England international Jonathan Woodgate presenting Boro fan James with a Boro shirt. And to everyone's astonishment Nicole Sherzinger appeared on stage wearing her own replica Boro shirt, mini skirt combo to give James Arthur glamorous backing.

James Arthur has paid his dues singing in many bands, taking in many back rooms of pubs and clubs over the years. His friend Weam contacted a couple of their mutual friends and former musical mates to give us a few comments about James Arthur rise from the Bongo to X Factor Final. Oh and we also asked the Boro manager Tony Mowbray for good measure, thanks to the very kind Scott Wilson of the Northern Echo for that.

Former band mate Jamie Graham has been jamming with James since the age of 15. He was there at James first recording session in Hartlepool and has played by his side at weddings and christenings. Jamie has been knocked out by the response of the whole town this week

“All of Boro have participated massively! There were banners and posters all over the place. There was constant backing from Radio Tfm! The Boro squad was there! Town Hall offering free tickets!

Everyone I know has supported him, Facebook, twitter going mental, everyone voting! Even making cakes with his face on! Sharing his music via YouTube!”

Has James changed at all I wondered in his performances or as a person. “There were no differences in his performances for me he has always been this good and I've always thought he was going to make it somehow.”

Best friend Michael Dawson said, “I couldn't be prouder. I've seen him struggle with music for the best part of 10 years so to see it paying off now is amazing.”

But Michael was not at all surprised with James Arthur's progress through X Factor, “I could believe it actually I’m like his biggest fan so I knew as soon as the judges heard him at Newcastle it was onwards and upwards. I've always believed he could achieve anything if he set his mind to it.”

But about that incredible homecoming on Tuesday, Michael revealed, “James has been gigging the local area for years sometimes to one or two people in a dingy club so to see the full town out in support blew him away.”

But what about that Sunday, eight months ago in the Club Bongo where James Arthur scooped a Battle of the Bands award. Michael Dawson recalled “I was there, he was panicking all day cos he was proper skint so all he was worried about was winning so he could literally eat, thankfully he did.”

What an incredible story from Bongo on the breadline to X Factor final all within the same year. And finally as I promised you some words of support from the Middlesbrough manager, Tony Mowbray.

“I think it is great for the area, we had Amelia Lily last year and this year James Arthur. I think we should just all be proud of someone from Teesside trying to achieve and do something and showing their talent and their quality.

I think from very early on he had almost a rawness about the way he sings and he is a bit different from the norm and I think there's a potential niche there for him to bring that to the market place. Let's hope he does well on Saturday/Sunday as he has done well for the last few months and we just wish him well. I know he is a Boro fan, a few of the boys have exchanged tweets with him. Hopefully he does well and we do well.”

Words David (Weam) Mohan/ Rob Nichols

Photos Tracy Hyman

James Arthur Bongo

James and Nicole

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