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Sam Bailey – Tracking a class act on X-Factor

Sam Bailey the unexpected class act of X-Factor 2013

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I’ve never written about X-factor before but this year it has been very interesting to watch one persons journey through the show towards the final. X-Factor is an interesting TV show, and ultimately it’s about stereotypes. I always get the impression it’s a battle between the producers and record company execs behind the show and the voting public. They often have different views which makes for occasionally interesting TV when the contestants and the public veer strongly in a direction that the producers don’t really want to go. The show’s producers must have loved Jedward from a performance and ratings perspective but the record companies must have been in a panic!

What the producers want?

Ideally the producers want to reveal the next teen singing sensation, the person the think will appeal to a mostly young audience as they think that’s their sales market. The irony is that all the other demographics actually watch the show. It’s a family show and no doubt that affects the voting each week.
This explains why someone like Sam Bailey is in the running to win the show. Family’s, kids, parents and grandparents alike will all love Sam Bailey. She can really sing and she looks great on stage. It’s a visual transformation that people love, ordinary over 25 working class mum getting a unique chance at stardom.

Sam Callahan – perfect popstar image?

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It also explains why Sam Callahan survived so long on the show when perhaps when he should never have been in the final 12. Visually he was a record companies dream, looked great, would appeal to youngsters and upwards alike and no doubt technology could have auto-tuned him to perfection for the record companies. Unfortunately while Sam is able to sing somewhat it was rapidly clear he does not have the vocal talents of many on the show and ultimately and correctly that led to him leaving.

Luke Friend’s interesting voice

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At the other end of the scale we have Luke Friend, visually interesting and with a voice that while not unique (anyone remember Seal?) stands out and he can sing a bit too. Potentially he’s the new choice for the record companies. He doesn’t have the candy floss appeal that Sam Callahan did but he is interesting and clearly is a musician with ideas. Ending up in the sing off in the semi final is proof that Luke maybe is quite what the public want, having said that I think choice of song is very important for Luke to succeed.

Nicholas McDonald – x-factor winner in waiting or not?

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Nicholas McDonald is a bit of a square peg for me. He sings well but appears quite one dimensional. He is only 16 and perhaps the days of teenage singing sensations are a thing of the past. Today’s media is in our face all the time – there is no time to breathe between seeing an act numerous times and frequent exposure like that unless they are very talented is likely to dampen audience enthusiasm and this is potentially what is happening to Nicholas. He’d have been better entering the show in a few years time when he is a more mature performer who can adjust to the demands of a show like X-factor. Nonetheless he has to be a possible for the record companies – he can sing and they can market him but probably with more effort then they’ d have required with Sam Callahan or Luke Friend. Despite this Nicholas sailed into the final after what wasn’t his best performance so who knows! After all we don’t know the exact differences between the votes. The producers clearly do and I wonder do they update the judges on singer votes after each week?

Hannah Barrett – a gifted voice

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I do feel sorry for Hannah Barrett and here’s an example of where things don’t make sense. Hannah is clearly an outstanding vocal talent, she’s truly gifted and we’ve probably not seen a singer with her type of voice for a long time. However as previously pointed out, today’s deal is about the whole package and Hannah for whatever reason did not capture the public’s heart, which is a real shame. Talent and the personality behind it can take time to develop and record companies never seem to learn, they don’t like investing in long-term talent like Hannah could be. It was a pity to see the judges cast her aside in favour of less impressive singers.

Rough Copy – X-Factor strength in numbers

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Rough Copy played to their main strength in that there are 3 of them. None of them are good enough to stand on their own as an individual performer, perhaps with the exception of Joe. He may have enough charisma and vocal ability to perform on his own. As a group they have worked very hard and turned out good performances every week. It will be interesting to see if they get a contract and if they can make it work for them.

Sam Bailey – X-factor Star Act 2013

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That brings me to Sam Bailey, she is by far the best act on X-Factor this year, she has enough of all the ingredients to make her a success, the only real question is whether or not that is the kind of success the record companies wish to exploit. In a harsh mind she doesn’t fit their stereotype of what a female singer should be, young, slim very beautiful and able to sing. But she is marketable, she can look great and of course she can sing amazingly well. Sam can put soul into a song which some of the other contestants can’t yet do because they are too young.

When the show started it was clear the producers didn’t think Sam could make it and they presented her in as drab a fashion as they could, mumsy and little overweight and quite ordinary. You can see this clearly in the progression of outfits that Sam has worn through the show. As the talent has dwindled someone has realised (reflected in the voting perhaps?) that Sam Bailey can win and they shifted up a style gear and dressed her in a more classy style for her performances, someone is packaging her up for victory.

That’s as it should be, after all as Gary Barlow frequently reminds us this is a singing competition.

So Go Sam Bailey!

In my next post I’ll talk a little more about the dresses Sam has been wearing and why they really work for her from a style perspective.

Sophie Davis

Quality plus size clothing and designer fashion For Women Size 14 – 28

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Lisa Riley Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing – Lisa Riley – A New Dance Star

Strictly Come Dancing – It’s more than dancing for Lisa Riley

Strictly Come Dancing is only a few weeks into the latest series and the show continues to capture our imagination. If you haven’t seen the show Lisa Riley is taking part in this series. If you don’t know who Lisa Riley is, she’s a popular british actress well known for her roles in Emmerdale and for presenting “You’ve been framed”.

More recently we’ve seen Lisa portray a dark character in “Scott and Bailey”. This serious role allowed Lisa to display the full extent of her acting skills and proved for me at least that she is an amazing actress. Seeing her on Strictly Come Dancing you wouldn’t believe it is the same person.

Lisa has perhaps taken the Strictly Come Dancing judges and the public by surprise. Lisa Riley is a plus size lady and few people might have rated her as a having a chance to win the competition. But Lisa is a revelation, she dances very well and easily puts to shame the flawed image generally portrayed by the media that being large somehow means being second best.

Comment about Lisa’s look

Lisa has looked amazing in each of the dances she has done so far. Last night’s Hollywood Theme Night was no exception. Lisa danced the Jive with Robin to “Hanky Panky” tune from the Dick Tracy movie. She wore a short, frilly dress with lace sleeves teamed with sequined tights. Lisa had her hair done in a “Big Hair” style that suited her outfit and the dance perfectly.

Lisa Riley’s dancing

Lisa Riley’s dancing last night on strictly come dancing was no different to the first two evenings. It was exceptional and this is probably the one of the things about the show that people may have been most surprised by. Stereotyped perceptions kick in and people probably didn’t expect Lisa to be able to dance particularly well because she is a large lady. On the contrary, Lisa moved very well and is clearly a good dancer, dispelling this notion. She has excellent timing and rhythm and left us in no doubt about her capabilities as a dancer. Lisa and Robin finished third last night with their Jive. On the overall leader board after three weeks they are joint third with 11 points.

Lisa and Robin on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

Lisa and Robin Dancing The Jive

Views of the Strictly Come Dancing Judges

There is one element of the show I find somewhat irritating. Some of the judges comments have been slightly patronising as if they can’t believe a larger lady is capable of dancing and dancing really well. The fact that Lisa Riley is a larger lady is of no consequence whatsoever and the judges should not continue to draw attention to this.

Lisa’s personality

Lisa’s personality is a huge contributing factor to her ability to be a success in a show of this nature. This was clear in the strictly come dancing training session clips. Throughout those clips Lisa was bright and bubbly and having fun while working through the routines. Her positive attitude carries through to the dance floor and last night she performed with a big smile on her face throughout, clearly enjoying herself.

So who is going to win Strictly this year?

I think Lisa Riley has a very good chance of winning Strictly Come Dancing. However there is stiff competition in the form of Louis Smith. An Olympic athlete, no less. Louis and Flavia performed a dance routine from the film Dirty Dancing. The dance contains quite a challenging lift at the end of the routine. In their training clips much was made of this lift prior to Louis and Flavia’s performance. During their performance they executed the lift flawlessly and with apparent ease, as you’d expect from an Olympic gymnast. The BBC probably added a little drama to make their dance a little more interesting than it was. Having said that, technically their overall dance was excellent and probably deserved more than the 30 marks that put them in second place for the evening.

There are a number of weeks to go and there are plenty of other strong competitors in the mix, but wouldn’t it be special if Lisa goes on to win Strictly Come Dancing? I do hope so. Lisa’s positive approach and obvious ability are currently doing much to combat the negative attention that plus size women get in the UK press. So watch Strictly Come Dancing each week and vote for Lisa Riley, her performances thus far have deserved the votes she and Robin have received.

Joanna

Vida Moda | Designer Fashion For Women Size 14 to 28

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The Artist, a self portrait in oils.

“Drawing Inspiration” an exhibition of Art by Diana Probost at the Cambridge Art Salon

Diana Probst, a Cambridge artist, opens her first show, Drawing Inspiration, on Friday, at the Cambridge Art Salon. This post is about her experience of setting up the show. Diana is a talented artist and we are pleased to provide her with a guest post on our blog. Everybody gets to see the the finished work of artists but few see the effort or trials and tribulations that people go through to achieve that end product. The piece below, in Diana’s own words reflects the challenges we all face in “making something happen”, often these challenges are where we get pushed out of our comfort zone and dealing with them, while stressful does help build our experience. So read on to find out what it is like to go through setting up your own art exhibition for the first time. If you are in Cambridge between the 11th and 16th of November do come and view Diana’s work and look out for the invitation to the private viewing at the end of this post.

“I have been a professional artist for a little over a year now. In oil paint terms, that means that things I started last year are now framed and ready to sell. Oil painting is slow, and gives you plenty of time for thought. By contrast, the show date has come crashing in on me, with the speed and unblinkingness of headlights on a rabbit. If it were not for the support around me, I would be facing an empty room on opening night.

Bottles on a Blue Cloth in Oil by Diana Probost

Bottles on a Blue Cloth

The first thing I did was make a blog post and ask my friends to comment. Artists I did not know I knew dropped by. There were plenty of advice sites on the net, and I added things I had skimmed to a huge spidery brain-dump. With my husband’s help, and a donated ten minutes by a friend who advised on software, I got everything onto my computer and scheduled from there.

It cut down the mountain into smaller bits that were hardly rocky at all, and I was able to separate my painting time from my preparations. I went back to the suggestion lists again and again, for moral support as much as for the ideas.

The last couple of weeks were surreal. I did not have any more painting I could do for the show itself, and I found myself worrying about my lack of expertise in marketing. That was where my friends shone through. There was a lot of support and just knowing it was there got me through the tough parts. Today I will be walking around Cambridge distributing postcards advertising the show. It’s all coming together, and I’m really chuffed.”

The Artist, a self portrait in oils.

The artist, a self portrait

For your invitation to the private view please click HERE.

The show starts on Friday 11th, and runs until 16th, with the gallery closed on Monday. Opening hours 10-5

Cambridge Art Salon: 29 Cromwell Road, Cambridge, CB1 3EB
Diana’s URL: dianaprobst.com
Twitter Feed: @dianaprobst

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Help us Save the boobies of the world!

This is the engaging tag line of a friend of Vida Moda’s who is organising a charity event tomorrow night July 15th, 7.30pm in Huntingdon to raise money for the fight against Breast Cancer. Hazel Cotterll has been working tirelessly with colleagues from Huntingdons Rotaract Club to organise the event, sell tickets and find sponsorship, no mean task to fit in with her normally busy day! Hazell is hoping to raise £2,000 for the BreakThrough BreastCancer Charity

Breast Cancer as we all know is devastating illness for individuals and their families and is indiscriminate in the age ranges it affects. So if you are in Huntingdonshire or a neighbouring county, village or town and feel like a good night out then get in touch with Hazell and buy a ticket. Tickets are only £10 and she has a fun evening lined up. You can contact Hazel on twitter @HazelLCottrell to talk to her about purchasing tickets or you can look at the facebook page for the event for more details.

At the beginning of July we were in Cambridge shopping and it was Race for Life day in Cambridge. The number of ladies participating in the event was amazing, all generations were represented, often in family groups, grandmothers through to Granddaughters. The were all in pink and there were thousands in the race. It was very inspiring and made us marvel at the power of a collective of people to change something. So while we have our erstwhile politicians grubbing around in the dirt with the powers that be in the media over goulish phone hacking we’ve got real people on the ground taking action and working together to effect change to benefit millions.

Which is more important and more worthwhile?

In our mind the answer is the ordinary person in the street working to do something positive to benefit others. So full marks to Hazel and her colleagues at Hunts Rotaract for organising tomorrows event. We are pleased to be able to sponsor Hazel’s event in a small way with some prizes for the raffle. If you can go tomorrow night then please contact Hazel and support her efforts.

Joanna & Philip (Vida Moda)

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Write a guest post for us

Calling Bloggers – guest post slots available on our blog

Our blog is about women, their empowerment, their achievements and successes, their lives and of course plus size fashion and related issues. That’s quite a range of topics and we’d love to hear from you if you’d like to write a guest post on our blog. For your post to be considered it must be related to one of the above topics. We’ll publish one post per week and feature it on Twitter and Facebook. We want to hear from you. Tell us your story of success in business, life or helping others. Perhaps there is something that is special about your business or activity that promotes or empowers women and celebrates their achievements, we’d love to hear about it. In return we may wish to be allowed to write a guest post for you blog.

We are focused on finding the best designer clothes for larger women who deserve to look and feel good. So we’ll give give special consideration to posts related to this area. We know there are lots of talented and successful ladies out there running their own business and supporting families as well, we don’t know how some of you cope with demands of both, because neither is easy!

There is an enviable positive spirit amongst the women we listen to on Twitter each day and it’s very inspiring. We wrote a blog post a few days ago about inspiration in general and we’d really love to share more examples of women doing well.

So leave a comment if you’d like to participate or contact us now on Twitter or on Facebook to let us know what you’d like to say.

If you want to see what we are offering our customers please browse our online shop www.vidamoda.co.uk or read some of our other blog posts to understand more about us.Write a guest post for us

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QR Quilt

Nancy Feve – Recombinant Art Quilts – an exhibition organised by Bonnie Cotier

Bonnie was an inspirational person and the exhibition detailed below is a fine example of how she used her skills to enrich and promote someone’s talent.

The content in this post is courtesy of @Lindsay_Abbott and Michelle French @designer_tweets who like Nancy were both close friends of Bonnie.

QR Quilt by Nancy Feve

Text by Lindsay
“The late Bonnie Cotier was struck by the patterns of QR Codes and encouraged her friend and colleague Nancy Feve, a quilt expert, to design a quilt that is a functional QR Code.

The quilts will be on show at Williams Art, 5 Dales Brewery, Gwydir Street, Cambridge on Tuesday 7 June 5pm-8pm. Tel: 01223 311687. http://www.williamsart.co.uk

Bonnie designed Nancy’s website and was helping Nancy to organise the event and act as media contact. Her friend and colleague, Michelle French, has stepped in on behalf of Bonnie to make sure that the event is a success.

Further information can be found here: Nancy Feve Quilts: http://www.fevequilts.com/news-media-coverage/

There is also a Twitter hashtag #fevequilts to follow Nancy’s work.

Michelle French: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/michellefrenchdesign

Text by Michelle
“Bonnie did an experiment with Cam Creative last year using QR Codes. At the time there were very few people in the group who were aware of them. I had become intrigued with them when the design firm in London, Moving Brands, presented a case study in a lecture at London College of Communication.

Bonnie and I both have backgrounds in sewing and the cultures of the Southeast US and I was very excited about the combination of low-tech, craft art with the high tech application. (“High Tech/High Touch” example for a John Naisbitt enthusiast.)

While the circumstances of my most recent involvement in pushing this show forward have been among the saddest of my life, I have been very glad to contribute.

Nancy is accepting commissions should you want your own QR code stitched into a quilt.”

Please make others aware of the exhibition and if you’re in Cambridge please go and view the exhibition.

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What inspired you today?

Last night I attended a local networking group Cam Creative to pay tribute to the memory of Bonnie Cotier who died in a tragic accident on April 23rd. In honour of Bonnie’s memory people were asked to tell the group about something amazing they had done recently or something that inspired them. Bonnie was highly regarded by the people in the various networking groups that she was member of and she was heavily involved in Cam Creative. I hadn’t yet got to know Bonnie really well but I had spoken to her often enough to realise she was a person that stood out because of her personality and her approach to life, business and people. She was a dynamic person who had a hand in many different projects some of which we heard about last night and clearly had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm to participate and contribute 100% to the projects she was involved in.

So those who wanted to, could stand up and say a few words about what had inspired them. Personally, I struggled with this, after some reflection I didn’t feel I could stand up and tell people about something obvious or spectacular that inspired me. I’ve worked very hard to achieve whatever amount of success I’ve had in life. But again I suspect that’s a common story for a lot of people, I’m just an ordinary person doing ordinary things.

However things have changed in the last 12 months or so and thinking back over that time I realised I stumbled across a source of inspiration I never expected to find. Its not loud and explosive, or in your face. Its rather quiet and subtle but it is insistent and nurturing. It played a big part in my decision to start a business 6 months ago. The business an online store selling plus size clothes to larger women. It’s very early days and it’s a risk, there’s no real telling at this point whether it will succeed or not. The point is, I had the idea to set up this business more than 12 years ago. I did nothing, instead I pursued a career in a discipline in a corporate environment which has gone well for me over the years. Despite being difficult it was still a “safe” option.

The question is why did I start my venture now and not 12 years ago? The answer is of course complex and like a lot of people I can easily come up with a list of why I didn’t start it years ago. Coming up with the list of reason why I started it now is less easy. One of the influencing factors is that I got involved in a local networking group, initially to learn more about social media but pretty soon my thoughts turned to my dormant business idea and I decided to give it a go. I was inspired by simply talking to the people around me at these groups. They are from all walks of life and are running all manner of businesses and I found their energy and positive vibe (often in the face of difficult trading conditions) very inspiring and it helped me get up and do something about my idea. Every time I go to one of these events I make some new contacts and I always come away with something new to apply to my fledgling business.

A number of people I’ve met in the networking group have helped me set up and their efforts are woven into the fabric of my venture and I’m grateful for their contribution. While I wasn’t lucky enough to work with Bonnie she certainly is an exemplar of the type of person I’m referring too and I know she provided inspiration to plenty of others as they sought to develop their business or idea. In fact if you want see how Bonnie inspired and helped someone else then please read the previous post on this blog about an exhibition that Bonnie was instrumental in organising in Cambridge starting on June 7th.

So if you are an entrepreneur starting up or are already well established take a good look around the people at the next networking event you attend. Seek out the ones that like Bonnie, might inspire you and help you do something amazing. They are out there and they will help. In return you may find you can also provide some inspiration to others.

Please add a comment telling us about people that have inspired you, or if you have a story about how Bonnie inspired you please feel free to share it here, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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