Viral sensation Charlotte Awbery on her new music, setting G-A-Y on fire and what Ellen DeGeneres is really like
Charlotte Awbery is ready to give the gays everything they want.
For the Essex-born artist, 2020 has been quite the rollercoaster.
She’s been singing almost half her life – she started aged 16, and is 31 now – but until this year, it had been a passion project. She’d perform at pubs and restaurants on evenings and weekends, while working as many as four jobs at a time to pay the bills.
That changed in February, when she was catapulted to fame with a 30-second snatch of “Shallow”.
It seems almost unthinkable now — a man running up to a woman in a busy tube station, shoving a microphone in her maskless face and asking her to sing — but that small, now-alien act gave Charlotte a taste of the success she’s spent half her life dreaming of, and a claim to the hearts of queers around the world.
“I am a believer in fate,” she tells PinkNews. “I believe good things come to those who wait.”
We’re speaking in August, six months after she went viral, and five after the UK was put into lockdown.
The pandemic derailed Charlotte’s plans for an immediate assault on the charts, robbing her of the chance to capitalise on the huge publicity that follower her Shallow cover: appearances on Ellen, Lorraine and at London’s iconic G-A-Y.
“That was probably one of the best gigs I’ve ever done,” she says of the latter.
“The way everyone reacted to me on stage, it was such a feel-good energy.”
At one point during her performance, a speaker burst into flames.
“I didn’t even realise! I was singing and I kept thinking to myself, ‘I feel out of breath’.
“They were putting smoke machines on – which I’m not used to – but one of my friends who was there on the evening said, ‘Did you see the speaker behind you that went up in flames?'”
Like everything that’s happened this year, Charlotte took it in her stride.
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect in lockdown.
“It’s been a massive change for the whole world, but it’s given me more time to be creative, to work on my own material.”
Now, finally, she’s releasing her debut single, which is of course, a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Shallow”.
“I know it sounds silly, but it changed my world,” she says of the ballad. “It’s an important song to me, I respect the song.”
The popstar-in-waiting first performed “Shallow” in full for the world on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, months before a slate of allegations wiped the sheen off the host’s wholesome, cheery reputation.
“Obviously it’s terrible hearing all the allegations, but I can only speak about my personal experience,” Charlotte says.
“They treated me really kindly. They looked after me, the staff and Ellen.”
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Unsurprisingly, Charlotte is a huge Gaga fan – “Rain on Me” is a current favourite – and has also had Kylie and Dua Lipa on heavy rotation this year.
Her own album will be a mix of “feel good” pop – “stuff you can shimmy to” – and big, classic ballads. As soon as she’s allowed, she wants to get out on the road to make up for lost time – and is already looking forward to next year’s Pride season.
“I feel very, very privileged,” she says when asked about her queer following.
“I want to be at loads more Prides, I want to be out there singing. I’ve got so much to give. I want to be the next Shirley Bassey – but Charlotte Awbery.”