The woes of Bo: A drugs battle. Scandalous rumours about her love life. The death of her beloved Mum. Singer Bo Bruce tells how she's survived them all

Bo BruceBo Bruce

There’s no missing Bo Bruce in the corner of a café on London’s Fulham Road. She smiles but it doesn’t quite reach those huge, wounded eyes — eyes which, along with her husky delivery, made her easily the most distinctive contestant on last year’s BBC1 talent show The Voice where she finished as runner up to Leanne Mitchell.

Bo — christened Lady Catherine Anna Brudenell-Bruce — is the younger child of the Earl of Cardigan. The impoverished aristocrat, from whom Bo, 28, is legally estranged, was reported earlier this year to be training to be a lorry driver while living on a £71-a-week jobseekers’ allowance.

Her late mother was his ex-wife, Ros, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer last summer, just weeks after The Voice ended.

Despite her dysfunctional family and a serious drug habit in her teens that led to an accidental overdose, Bo is a surprising blend of toughness and vulnerability.

She drew great strength from her mentor on The Voice, Dubliner Danny O’Donoghue, frontman on The Script and now back on our screens in the second series of the talent show.

As the final approached, friends said Danny had split up with his model girlfriend of four years. When he and Bo performed a duet together, it looked at one point as though they were about to kiss — imagine the outcry if an X Factor judge was rumoured to be romancing one of their contestants.

Bo RESPONDS immediately, if carefully. ‘We quickly became good mates. We had a lot in common. He was very much there for me at the time of The Voice.’

All right then — was he a good kisser? She roars with laughter. ‘Am I allowed to say No Comment?’

She will talk, though, about Alive, the song she co-wrote with Danny, which is on her new album, Before I Sleep, which entered the midweek charts at No. 6. ‘It deals with regret and who the last person would be that you thought of at night or at the end of your life.’

She’d wanted Danny to be in the video for the song — ‘but his timetable is crazy.’ Ahead of a UK tour in June and a scattering of festival appearances, Bo performed a number of tracks to a select audience. ‘I did ask Danny to come along,’ she says. ‘I was a bit disappointed he wasn’t there.’

I mention that he’s rumoured to have a new girlfriend. Bo’s reaction is a mix of sadness and surprise with an added dash of anger, but she recovers quickly with a shrug that seems to say that it’s his life and he must do as he wants.

Television Programme: The Voice, pictured Bo Bruce and Danny O'Donoghue.Television Programme: The Voice, pictured Bo Bruce and Danny O'Donoghue.

Bo Bruce

Bo Bruce

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A week after our meeting, she rings me at home. She’s at pains, she says, to set the record straight in regard to Danny.

‘I’ve never discussed in public whether he and I were ever an item and I never will. Anything I’ve ever said addressed our friendship but it was misinterpreted as being about a so-called relationship.’ She was also irritated by reports that the BBC decreed she and Danny shouldn’t be seen out together.

‘Someone did suggest that maybe it would be better if we appeared separately at events. But there was no ban on our doing so if we’d wanted to.’

Bo discovered her singing voice when she was cast as Mary Magdalene in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the exclusive Marlborough College, where she was educated alongside Kate and Pippa Middleton. ‘The music teacher, Mr Ridley, seemed the only one who really got me. I think he liked the fact that I had spirit, that I was a bit sparky.’

Bo Bruce

Bo Bruce

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The Middleton sisters were a little older. Bo got to know them both on the hockey team.

‘There are no skeletons in the cupboard, no scandals attached to either of them,’ she says. ‘Kate, in particular, was very welcoming when I started playing hockey. She was a sixth-former and those girls could be terrifying. But she was always lovely. What you saw was what you got.

‘She and Pippa were extremely friendly, uncomplicated girls, completely normal, popular all-rounders. I think William’s very lucky to have someone as grounded as Kate.’

For her first four years Bo loved Marlborough, but she grew restless. Tension between her parents meant she didn’t go home in the school holidays or even spend Christmas with them. She left school during her A-levels, then, when she was 20, took an accidental drug overdose after two parties on successive nights.

Her mother divorced Bo’s father and moved into another house on the 4,500-acre Savernake Estate in Wiltshire, which has been in his family for almost 1,000 years. Bo is quick to point out that she and her brother Tom, 30, didn’t grow up in Tottenham House, the Grade I-listed pile on the estate. ‘I’ve been in that house precisely twice in my life.’

Having dabbled at the fringes of a music career, 21-year-old Bo was encouraged to attend the renowned Cottonwood rehab centre in Arizona.

‘What I valued most was the silence, which gave me the chance to sort through the chaos in my head,’ she says. ‘I was there for four months, the longest any patient had ever stayed, I was told.’

Back in the UK, she attended therapy sessions and is currently seeing a specialist to help her through the release of the Before I Sleep album, and a single, Save Me.

She had deep reservations about The Voice, but her mother and brother encouraged her.

‘I already had some of my own music out there. Did I really need this? I asked the show’s producer for absolute assurance that I would have control over what I sang.’

It wasn’t until she performed Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill that she felt she’d made the right decision. ‘I finished the song and the audience were on their feet. Then Kate herself sent me word that she’d really liked what I’d done.’

Bo was terrified throughout The Voice. At no stage, she says, did she ever feel she’d win. ‘But, as I started to do better, it occurred to me that it might not matter.’

Fellow contestants Tyler James and Vince Kidd were her wingmen (her word) — but in the event, Leanne Mitchell, mentored by Tom Jones, clinched the crown.

‘Leanne has the most phenomenal pair of lungs. She’s a gentle, sweet, lovely girl who I didn’t get to know until I was standing backstage at the final and I found myself holding her hand. I turned to her. “How come we’ve never hung out before?” I asked.’

Bo Bruce

Bo Bruce

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The stress of the competition was heightened by Ros’s illness. Bo would ricochet between the TV studio and her mother’s hospital room, where she slept on an inflatable bed on the floor.

Ros lost her battle just weeks after the end of The Voice. ‘She used to say that a mother is only as happy as her saddest child,’ Bo says. ‘I know I caused an awful lot of heartache for my family.

‘Mum and I were never not close but I’m pleased I was much happier towards the end of her life.’

Her relationship with her father, by cruel contrast, could not be worse. For reasons she’s never divulged in detail, Bo has a restraining order that prevents him from making any contact with her — and that’s how it will remain, she says, ‘for ever and ever’.

She’s not rolling in family money, but admits that being well-born undermines her as a serious musician in some people’s eyes.

‘But whatever the public perception of me, I’m not some ethereal fairy floating around being a hippie and living on another planet,’ she insists. ‘I’m a much more solid character than people realise.’

Despite intermittent indications to the contrary, it looks increasingly likely that Bo Bruce will be able to hack it on her own.

n Before I Sleep and the single, Save Me, are out now on Virgin EMI Records.
  1. 2013/05/03(金) 17:23:11|
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