By Hal Boedeker
1:41 PM EDT, September 12, 2013
Turns out that Lillie McCloud, the 54-year-old grandmother from Orlando who wowed "The X Factor," has a recording career under another name.
She had success as Nicole McCloud, whose hits include "Don't You Want My Love" in 1986 and "Runnin' Away" in 1994, according to the website mjsbigblog.
The judges on "The X Factor" compared McCloud to Whitney Houston and Gladys Knight. For the record, McCloud has performed with Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen.
Of course, it's not unusual for singing-show contestants to have had careers. But the issue is how "The X Factor" presented McCloud as a grandmother who was new to the scene. Judge Kelly Rowland even asked where McCloud had been hiding.
In an interview Wednesday, McCloud told me she has lived in Florida since 1986 and in Orlando for a couple of years. McCloud has three children and seven grandchildren.
But mjsbigblog reports that McCloud has been living in Slovakia and recorded the title song for the Slovakian version of "Britain's Got Talent," which is a show from "X Factor" judge Simon Cowell.
I heard from a reader who complained that McCloud is "a plant by Simon Cowell" and that Cowell is "trying to fix the show."
I've asked Fox for a comment.
But the presentation of McCloud as a nobody was misleading, at the very least.Will it matter to viewers? Should it matter to viewers? Will this revelation affect her progress on the show?
I wanted more information to the question: Where have you been hiding?
"I have been trying not to hide," McCloud told me Wednesday. "I've been working in Miami nightclubs, on South Beach for several years. I've been recording. I couldn't get beyond dance artist. I had some recordings as a dance artist. I never had this opportunity to branch out."
She said getting acclaim at 54 was unusual. "Does this happen to a 54-year-old? This is not normal," she said. "It's not every day that something like this happens to someone like me. A couple of weeks ago I was home cooking with a baby in one hand and a baby in the other. This time I’m ready for it."
She recalled that Cowell saw her arrival as "divine timing. I do believe it’s timing. If I had gotten it before, I wouldn’t have known how to handle to success."McCloud told me she wants to perform gospel music because "that's my heart."
Her take on Cowell?
"I love Simon because he’s very outspoken," she said. "He’s going to tell you what he thinks. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I have a deep appreciation for his honesty."
Ah, honesty. We could use some about this "X Factor" contestant.
The next episode of "The X Factor" airs at 8 p.m. Thursday on Fox.
Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel