It always seems a double edged sword, winning the X-Factor. On one hand, you’re thrust onto the world stage, with a six-figure record deal and multiple collaborative opportunities to boot. However, over the last decade or so, there has always been that niggling sensation that this will define the artist in question, that they will never be able to shrug off the label of “X-Factor winner”. That coming second, as the cliché now has it, might even be better than coming first.
Dalton Harris, the Jamaican born-and-raised singer and most recent winner of the competition, looks like he might break the winner’s curse. The single that bagged him the competition — a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Power of Love” — beat the likes of Lady Gaga and Harris’ own dream collaborator, Ariana Grande, to become the UK number one (“I still can’t say ‘I was number one’ without have a mini heart attack,” he jokes). Upcoming song “Cry” is set to take that success and supercharge a subject personal to Harris. The single, written by Lil Eddie, is an emotional piece of introspection that not only showcases Harris’ vocal ability, but also — crucially — lays him bare, showing the world the Dalton Harris beyond the ITV editors’ suite. The Dalton Harris people will see for years to come. “[Eddie] asked me what I was going through, and I told him about how I was losing my best friend and the love of my life at the time,” he explains. “‘Cry’ is my heart, soul and mind in music form.”
“Cry” will be the culmination of months of hard work following Harris’ X-Factor victory; his crash course in positioning to become a contemporary powerhouse. His work ethic is undeniably already there, Harris explaining how goes “to a different studio everyday, with different producers and writers. Sometimes I can be there for like 8 hours”. Ever the optimist, though, he is quick to add, “it’s all worth it. I want to write honest songs – it’s important my lyrics come from a genuine place. I write or sing what I feel. And learn from the people I work with.”
We end on the question of legacy and what Harris would like to be remembered for. The subject of diversity — something that he sees as “a catalyst for healthy coexistence and mutual appreciation” — is one that is integral for the singer, and his answer speaks to his desire to help better the situation of others, as well as himself. “I want my legacy to be that success is not exclusive. The world is alive, just listen and look. My legacy will be harnessing the power of what’s possible. Hope, courage, wisdom and grace.”