60-year old LeRoy Bell is no stranger to the world
of music. In this course of his life, he has not only opened
for Sheryl Crow, Joan Osborne and B.B. King, but he's also
wrote "Mama Can't Buy You Love" for Elton John.
But when he made it through auditions for The X Factor,
it was clear that his time in the music industry was far
from over. He may have been eliminated from the competition,
but this time, we know his music career is far from over.
PCM recently had the opportunity to participate on a conference
call with LeRoy Bell where he talked about his time on the
show, his previous experience and much much more! Read below
to learn everything he had to share with us.
Obviously a lot of shows like this there is a very specific
age cut off and THE X FACTOR obviously is very unique in
that it opens it up to more people. What, in addition to
that, made it appealing for you? What made you decide to
be a part of this show?
Well, really, in the beginning I didn't know that much
about the show. My buddy, Stan, told me about the show and
I really didn't think about it seriously at first. And then
he said there was no age limit. He told me it was going
to be a big show and I could get some publicity because
I've been playing around on my own. I've got a band and
we've been touring around the United States, but we could
never get past the opening act and so I wanted to get that
publicity and that's what attracted me to it.
Yes, obviously, from what we've heard, you've got a
tremendous talent. You're a tremendous artist. But, as you
mentioned, you do have a band. So now that you've had this
experience, you've had this exposure, do you think that
you want to do maybe more solo work or do you think that
maybe you want to some more things with your own band?
Well, so far I want to do the band. You know, you can still
do it solo at the same time if I wanted to. But I have a
pretty hot band and so far that's the way I want to go.
Everything is always-things happen and things change, but
at this point in time we're still together.
I did want to get at the kind of mentor/contestant relationship
you have with Nicole. It seemed like more so than maybe
any other dynamic on the show. She seems so committed to
really seeing you succeed, seeing your dreams really come
true. And I'm wondering first of all, what you think it
was that really made her so committed to your success and
then beyond that, how that was instrumental in maybe making
you a more effective contestant on the show?
I don't really know why we-maybe it's because she was also
a singer or somehow we related. I could understand where
she was coming from. It was a lot different than having
a producer or somebody else trying to mentor me. At first,
I didn't know how that was going to work because I was thinking
of Simon mentoring me actually. And then it was Nicole,
but then we got along famously.
She just had a way of being organic with her ideas of
how I should be me and how I could translate that to the
viewers and to the cameras and to the audience because I
was coming from a background of playing guitar and singing.
I always kind of hide behind my guitar as a singer/songwriter.
I wasn't used to just kind of the mike and standing up there.
That's the gap that we had to bridge.
then also just within Nicole's group, obviously not that
you're not at all identical, but certainly Josh in some
respects had a similar vocal style. So I'm wondering if
there was ever kind of coordination or maybe thinking I'll
go this way, you'll go this way, to make sure that you guys
didn't overlap and maybe split the votes at all.
You know, we never really consciously did that, but yes,
there was some overlapping in styles because a lot of songs
I sang, he could have sang and vice versa. But the way we
worked it was he liked certain songs and I liked certain
songs so we never really had a problem with it. It could
have been easily both wanted to sing the same songs.
You mentioned earlier is that you usually like to play
guitar on stage. Do you think you'll be doing that for THE
X FACTOR tour and also how is the song selection going to
work for you on that tour?
I haven't heard anything about the tour, really, except
for that there's supposed to be a tour. I don't know what
it's going to entail. I really don't know that much about
it; whether or not we're going to be able to play our instruments
or if we're doing the same songs we did on the show or if
we're doing some of our own songs. I'm hoping that I can
play my guitar and do some of my own songs as well. But
I don't know and I don't know how many songs each person
is going to get.
Also, can you tell us a little bit about the response
that you got for singing "Angel," because I know
that in the audience, watching on TV as well as the studio
audience, they seemed to really have an out pour of emotion
for you when you sang that song. Just in terms of fans that
you heard from or any response that you've got.
Yes, there was a lot of response from that one. From the
people that were already supporting me but also from-I think
it brought a lot of new people in because it hit a nerve
with people. I think with the whole, singing it for my mom
and it happened to be my mom's favorite song and I think
it just hit a nerve with everybody because it's a beautiful
song to begin with. Then when I introduced the element of
singing it to my mom, I think that translated across the
board. Everybody has a mom or mother or somebody that they
miss that might have passed or even that didn't pass and
they still feel that way.
It seems like Simon was leaning toward keeping you in
the competition during your last performance but then he
decided to leave it in the hands of the public. Were you
shocked by that decision?
Well, I knew that that decision could come. I wasn't sure
what to expect there because I was thinking he was leaning
to keeping me but I also know that L.A. had a lot invested
in Marcus. So I didn't know how that was going to go. If
he was trying not to upset the apple cart and then let the
voters decide without him being the bad guy or what. I'm
It looks like you were more comfortable than ever on
stage last week. Do you feel that it ended just when you
were hitting your stride?
Well, I did feel very comfortable but I think one of the
reasons why was I was kind of hitting my stride partly,
and partly because I knew that I might be going home. But
I think there was a learning curve there and I think I got
through that because I had explained that I'm used to playing
guitar and singing and also singing my own songs. I hadn't
done covers for ten years. So there was a little learning
curve in feeling at ease with somebody else's song and I
think I was hitting my stride at that point.
I was wondering what's the best piece of advice you
received while you were on the show from any of the judges?
I think the best thing that I received was from Nicole
was just to be myself. I thought I was being myself but
I think I was holding back because making the bridge from
just being with the guitar a singer/songwriter to singing
someone else's songs and feeling completely comfortable
with that. When it finally sunk in that I could actually
be myself and I got comfortable with it, it was near the
end. But I think-I had a great time either way. But I think
I was just turning the corner on getting really, really
comfortable without a guitar.
There are a lot of fans supporting you. What would you
like to say to them?
I love my fans. I love all the supporters. It's overwhelming
to see that much outpouring of support across the world
actually. It was kind of mind boggling at first, but I feel
very grateful and thankful and hope they keep supporting
Which song that you performed on the stage this season
do you think best represented LeRoy Bell in terms of let's
say, a future album coming out?
Good question. I would say the U2 song, "Still Haven't
Found What I'm Looking For" and "Don't Let Me
Down," the Beatles song, the last song, the "Save
Me" song. I wouldn't throw out the Sarah McLaughlin
song, although I might do it a little bit more different
if it were mine.
What was it like to compete against people as young
as Astro and Rachel Crow. Not only were they young, they
had different styles and maybe different sounds than you
did. What was that like for you to be in a competition with
Well, I enjoyed myself very much. They're good kids and
I didn't really look at it as a competition. I know a lot
of people were asking me that. Who's your biggest competition?
But I really didn't view the experience that way. I just
thought I was kind of more in competition with myself to
see if I could bridge the gap of just being a singer/songwriter
to on stage doing what I do and interpreting songs that
have already been successfully written and sung by other
artists. I never really viewed it as a competition and maybe
I would have if we would have got down to like four or three.
But up until then, we all got along and I just didn't see
it that way.
knew that going in that it was going to be that way. That
was just a fact of life, but I also knew that there was
a big untapped audience out there of 25 to 60 year olds
that a lot of times wouldn't be engaged in a show like this
so they had an invested interest in it. I may appear somebody
closer to their age and I think that's what happened with
me being there and the olders.
I wanted to ask you with all of your great experience
in the music business, obviously being on a reality TV show
was a new experience. So what surprised you the most about
being on THE X FACTOR?
Well, you're right. THE X FACTOR TV show, as far as a reality
show, was pretty wild. But TV in general is and especially
if you're doing it live. What surprised me most were how
many people it took to make the show happen. Just crew wise,
there were just so many people involved to make one episode
each time. You've got producers. You've got vocal coaches.
You've got hair. You've got makeup. You've got rehearsal
times. You've got stage run throughs. It's just a lot goes
into it. You don't have a whole lot of time to think about
How did being on the show affect your family?
My family was obviously very, very proud, but it was hard
being away that long at a time. It was kind of like living
in a bubble. It was just work, work, work, work. But they
stood fast and I think it brought us closer together in
a lot of ways. Now that I'm back, I can start running my
son around town and being his chauffeur again.