Taking part in 2017's Strictly Come Dancing, Alexandra Burke has revealed how she has felt her late mother, Melissa Bell, in the audience willing her to do well - and of her yearning to sing again. "I think mum is watching over me," she exclusively told HELLO! in October 2017. "When the camera panned to the audience, I saw my mum sitting with my brother and I choked up," she added. "Then it hit me that she wasn't there." Afterwards, Alexandra broke down in tears during a live interview with the show's co-host Claudia Winkleman. The outpouring of love and support that followed from the public brought a lot of comfort to the grieving star. "One lady wrote to me on my Instagram or Twitter and said she'd lost her son and I'd inspired her to get out of bed and go. That, for me, was huge," she explained. "I can't even begin to describe how it felt losing [Mum] and I'm still grieving. I'm feeling all kinds of weird feelings. One minute I'm really happy and then I'll see a picture or smell something that reminds me of her and it takes me all the way back."
Alexandra and her mum Melissa in 2012
Melissa had been diagnosed with kidney failure and diabetes while her daughter was on The X Factor. Despite the severity of her mother's illness, Alexandra never gave up hope she would be okay. "Losing my mum so young made me question my faith in God and so many things, because I was completely in denial with how sick she was," the singer revealed. "I asked them in hospital if she was deteriorating and they said no. But then, boom, she was gone. She is meant to be here."
The 29-year-old singer and stage star is determined to do well with her professional partner Gorka Márquez. "The day that Mum passed and the day we had to walk down the red carpet was the hardest day of my life, but I had to do it for her because I had no choice," she said. "I couldn't quit something I love, that she wanted me to do. She raised me to be the best me I can be and keep strong. She's my motivation to get out of bed and to go to the dance studios to rehearse for ten hours… I think she is watching over me."
Alexandra with professional dance partner Gorka on Strictly
"I wanted to do Strictly for years but I believe in the saying, 'What is for you will never pass you by,' so this was obviously the right time for me," she added. "You never know how long you will last, so to still be a part of it is a dream, an absolute dream." Alexandra also revealed how she has the support of her stage manager boyfriend of 18 months Josh Ginnelly who has become good friends with Gorka. "He totally gets it," she replied when asked about how he feels about the hours she spends in the arms of another man. "Josh understands what my career is about. He wants to be involved. In the green room, it's Josh and Gorka in the corner talking. But he wants to be involved, he wants to come to the dance studio and bring my French bulldog Milo to meet Gorka because Gorka loves Frenchies as much as we do. There's a lot in common."
Love rumours are rife on Strictly and when the talk turned to speculation that Alexandra has fallen out with Gemma Atkinson over the actress' alleged romance with Gorka. "Absolute rubbish," she said. "It frustrates the hell out of me. We know the truth. We know we're not arguing. I don't know if people really believe how much of a family we all are, so when we all read stuff, we're reading it together going, 'Well, that's rubbish.'" Dancing aside, Alexandra went on to reveal her plans to return to the recording studio to record the album she has repeatedly put on the back burner because of other commitments. "I want to get back into the studio. I'm yearning to sing," she shared. "I was 20 when I won The X Factor. I'm not singing about bad boys any more, I’m singing about being heartbroken. That, for me, is real."
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