Mount Zion native CeCe Frey may have put on a confident face during her time on Fox's "The X Factor," eventually being eliminated in sixth place, but ultimately she knew from the start that she wasn't exactly the kind of performer who was likely to make it to the show's finale.
Citing her leopard face paint and defiant attitude, she simply believes she didn't quite fit the profile of typical singing show winners.
"You go into one of these competitions knowing that there's a common denominator that typically runs between all the winners, something cookie-cutter and all-American, and I don't think I fit that," said Frey in reflection. "Hopefully, I'm the type that wins after the show."
Although she may have expected her eventual finishing place, one thing Frey didn't expect was the fervor of viewers in their opinions of her, both positive and negative. Whether her "real personality" was featured in the show, there's no denying that Frey was often at the center of controversy and attention.
"I never really expected that I was going to be the 'polarizing' one," she said. "That's the word that everyone seems to be using. On the plus side, though, I think those are the people that everyone remembers afterward."
That's what Frey is counting on as she begins the next phase of her career, buoyed by a tidal surge of attention far beyond anything she attained performing around the Decatur area with her band VolHolla. After her elimination from the show, the singer briefly returned home to Mount Zion to rest and regroup and has now headed back to Los Angeles for the end of the show and what lies beyond.
"I've kind of switched mode since the elimination, and the first thing I needed to do was sleep long and hard for a few days at home," she said. "Now I'm switching into business mode, thinking about how to take the next step with my own personal brand."
How much control Frey has here is nebulous. "The X Factor," like most reality talent-search programs, maintains a degree of control over winners and former contestants for a certain period of time after the show. This will no-doubt effect Frey's upcoming projects, although she doesn't believe there's a particular hurry to "cash in" within a short time frame. What she does know is that her next material probably won't sound very close to the punk/hip-hop party sound she formerly experimented with in VolHolla.
"It probably won't be as similar to VolHolla as people would expect," she said. "I want to have a heart, to sing and write about things that matter and not just make party music. I don't think there was a whole lot of depth to VolHolla, and so the next music you hear from me next will be something different."
Frey hopes her burgeoning fan base of "warriors," which she refers to as members of her "tribe," are OK with that. In the time she was on the show, she watched their ranks swell astronomically, going from a couple thousand Twitter followers to more than 350,000. She called the prospect of reaching that many people with a single tweet "overwhelming," but reaffirmed her desire to stay as true as she possibly can to her own interests in her post-"X Factor" career.
"You hear all the time that this is a cutthroat business, and I've learned firsthand that it really is," she said. "That was a very important lesson I had to learn. You have to hold on real tight to who you are. On the show, they changed my hair color and my music style, and I tried to take direction.
"But throughout it all I'm going to hold fast to who I am on the inside."
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