Born in South Shields, England, McElderry is the only child of Jim and Eileen (née Joyce) McElderry. The couple separated when McElderry was a child. He was raised in a small flat on Tyneside.
McElderry attended Harton Technology College in Lisle Road, South Shields, before joining South Tyneside College to study AS level school qualifications and Newcastle College to study performing arts. He was the Pride of South Tyneside’s Young Performer of the Year in 2008. He studied for BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Advanced Performance) at Newcastle College Performance Academy.
He took the role of ‘Danny Zuko’ in Grease performed at Harton Technology College.
McElderry auditioned for The X Factor in 2007 and made it to boot camp, he then felt he was too young compared to the other contestants and opted to walk away. He went back in 2009 in Manchester and sang Luther Vandross’s “Dance with My Father”.
Mentored by Cheryl Cole, he made it through to the live finals and was announced the winner on 13 December 2009, beating runner up Olly Murs with his version of The Climb. McElderry’s prize, as winner, was a recording contract with Simon Cowell’s Syco record label, whose parent company is Sony Music Entertainment. The contract has a stated value of £1 million, of which £150,000 is a cash advance and the remainder allocated to recording and marketing costs. The single The Climb was released as McElderry’s debut single.
Along with The X Factor finalists, McElderry recorded vocal for featured on a charity single, a cover of Michael Jackson’s hit You Are Not Alone. It was released in aid of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. The finalists premiered the song live on the edition of 15 November of the programme; the single was available for digital download that day and a physical release followed the day after. The single reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.
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