SHE may not have made it to the live stages of this year’s X Factor – but South Tyneside singer Abi Garrido is still chasing her dream.
The 17-year-old, from Jarrow, auditioned for the ITV talent show as a solo artist, but was put in a girl group with four of her fellow contestants during the boot camp stages.
The then-unnamed girlband travelled all the way to Bermuda with mentor Louis Walsh for the judges’ houses stage of the contest, but that’s where their journey ended.
Now the group, named Rumour Has It, has stuck together to chase stardom.
Abi, along with bandmates Abby Eades, Leah Gooden, and Saffron Silva, have been working in London to record their first single, and hope that it could see them picked up by a record label.
A fifth member of the group, Mimi O’Connell, decided not to continue.
Abi, a former sixth form pupil at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, said: “The whole experience was just absolutely crazy. When I look back on it now, I can’t believe it all happened. If someone told me last year that all this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“When we got put together at boot camp, we only had about five hours to get a song ready for the six-seat challenge, and when we got a seat it felt like it was all happening for a reason.
“Then we had our seat taken off of us and it was so dramatic but we eventually made it through to Louis’ house.
“I went as a solo singer, but now I couldn’t imagine singing without the rest of the girls. It’s only been a few months but they’ve become my best friends.”
Abi, who was the Gazette’s Young Performer of the Year in 2012, added: “When Louis told us we weren’t going through to the live finals, I was heartbroken because I thought it was over and it was what I wanted more than anything.
“But looking back, I was only 16 at the time and I went along to the first audition as an experience, not expecting to get through, so anything after that was a bonus.
“We all went home after that and returned to normal life, but we knew we wanted to stay together and try to make it. We knew we all sounded good together and that Simon Cowell had put us in a group for a reason, and now I can’t imagine doing it without them.”
After appearing on the show, the girls were contacted by talent agency, WME Entertainment, and whisked to London for a meeting.
Abi said: “They’ve worked with people like Labrinth and Tinie Tempah, so we couldn’t believe they were interested in us, but they said they really want to work with us and it’s such a huge opportunity.
“I’ve left sixth form now so I can really dedicate myself to it, and we know if we work hard enough then we’ll get somewhere.
“We’re working on our first single at the minute, and when we’ve got that sorted, WME are going to take it to record labels to try and get us signed.
“We want to be in the charts and playing arenas and we’re going to work hard to get there.
“My big dream is to sell out the O2 Arena, in London, and hopefully, one day, I’ll get there.”