LeRoy Bell on Performing on The X-Factor: "I Never Lacked the Confidence"

Michael Clinard
If you haven't done so already, read this week's cover story on Seattle's X-Factor finalist, LeRoy Bell, an ultra-talented guy who's finally getting a taste of the success he's deserved for years. Because of space constraints, that story didn't get to include the entirety of the interesting conversation I had with Bell over the phone. Here are some bits that got left out:

The judges, especially Simon Cowell, kept saying you didn't seem confident on stage. Do you agree with that?

Bell: I never lacked the confidence. There was a bit of learning curve for me, because I'm used to playing guitar and singing, and all of a sudden there was nothing to do with my hands. I felt a little bit naked. I think that was the most uncomfortable part for me. The singing part wasn't that bad. It was just getting into that comfortable zone, and I was just starting to get there at the last two performances.

And for the last ten years, at least, I haven't covered anybody's song. I've just done originals. So that was a little different, because I had to put myself in somebody else's head, in their song, and try to make it mine. So it was odd. And once of the judges says something like that, everybody repeats it for a lack of something better to say. I think we finally got past that when I did the U2 song.

What's your favorite song you performed on the show?

I think I could relate to the U2 song ["I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"] because it's kind of closer to what I would write, so it was easier for me to get into that one. And the Sarah McLachlan song ["Angel"] was easy because I related it to my mom. It was her favorite song.

You turned 60 while the show was happening. How did you celebrate?

I didn't celebrate it at all. I stopped celebrating my birthdays a long time ago, because I'm getting older and older and older! Most of the time I don't tell anybody about it. A lot of people didn't know how old I was because for the last 10 years I've been downplaying that. If you tell people, it always becomes a big issue, like, 'Oh wow, you don't look that old,' and then it's just a distraction from the music.

Do you have any beauty tips?

I think it's just genetics. But I take care of myself. I work out, I try not to get fat. I haven't eaten beef or pork in 30 years. I've never been a real vegetarian though. I eat chicken and fish and turkey, but I just quit beef and pork. I was having stomach problems, and I went to a couple of doctors, and they couldn't find anything wrong with my stomach. So one doctor suggested being a vegetarian. So I tried that for a couple weeks, and I couldn't take it. So I just left out the beef or pork and I had no problems with my stomach after that.

Did the producers try to give you a makeover?

They had their ideas of what you're supposed to look out. One of the things that they were always saying was, 'we have to push the envelope.' But to me it wasn't pushing the envelope, to me it was being more corny. Because it wasn't my style. I felt uncomfortable when I wore some blazer thing on that one show. I was just like, 'why did I let them talk me into that?' I went out and bought some clothes and I brought them each time to the styling part. And when they'd show me some pair of pants that were not like what I wanted to wear, I'd go, 'well, look at these.' I infused my own stuff into that.

Who do you pick for The X-Factor winner now that you're off the show?

I really don't know! It's pretty much anybody's guess. The problem is, you have these votes, and who knows? Each week, it changes. The problem is, people vote for you and vote for you, and then they think that since you've never been in the bottom two, you're safe, so they're like, 'oh we don't have to worry about him this week, he's fine.' So everything's up and down each week. I'm curious to see what happens.

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