Loren Allred on the Difficult Road that Led Her to 'AGT: Fantasy League'

Loren Allred

The 40 acts that appeared on the premiere season of America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League had all previously performed on one of the Got Talent franchises from around the world. Loren Allred, who is on Simon Cowell’s team, first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, singing “Never Enough,” allegedly one of Simon’s favorite songs.

Loren made it to the finals on the British version of the show, finishing in ninth place. That didn’t keep Simon from inviting her to be a member of his 10-act team for AGT: Fantasy League.

“I grew up from the very first season of American Idol just feeling like if I could sing for Simon then my whole life would be made, because I really respect his opinion,” Loren told Parade in this exclusive interview. “He’s known for being one of the most critical people in the industry, but also someone that completely transforms musicians and makes them into stars. So, I was, of course, nervous to sing for him [on BGT], especially because I was rejected by him on American Idol when I was 18, but when I performed and he was so kind and so warm and so supportive, I just felt like ‘this is the validation I had always hoped for.’”

It was Simon, who in his position as Loren’s mentor, maintained that Loren she sing “Never Enough” for her America’s Got Talent audition and tell the story of how it’s really her voice in the movie, The Greatest Showman, and that Rebecca Ferguson, who plays the role of Jenny Lind in the film, is actually lip syncing the song to Loren’s recording.

Loren Allred<p>Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC</p>
Loren Allred

Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

And Loren was happy to oblige as she says she never gets tired of singing it.

“Every time I sing the song, I feel so grateful,” she continues. “If anything, I worry if people are getting tired of it. I was nervous to sing it on America’s Got Talent because I had already sung it on Britain’s Got Talent, but Simon insisted, ‘This is the right decision because you haven’t brought it to America yet on this big of a stage and I think it’s important that we tell your story here in the U.S.’”

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Loren agreed with the caveat that they mix it up a little bit, so it was more a reflection of how she likes to sing the song.

“We added a key change and I think we made it really special,” she says. “And also, it gave me the opportunity to put out my own version. I wasn’t allowed to record my own version until five years after the film was released. So, I just felt like this could be a really well-rounded opportunity to just give it one more push.”

Obviously, Simon was right about “Never Enough,” because Loren’s performance got her voted through by the AGT superfans to the semifinals. And tonight, Loren will be singing another song from a motion picture, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' in hopes of making the Feb. 12 finale.

“This song was a collaboration with Simon,” she says when asked why she chose it. “Simon really chose this song. I gave him a list of songs that I wanted to sing, and he said, ‘I have a really strong feeling about this song.’ This song is one of the best songs of all time and I said, ‘Okay, if we do this song, I need to put my own stamp on it,’ and I worked with the music producers on the show, and we made what I feel is a masterpiece. I think it’s going to give this song a brand-new life and I feel so connected to this version.”

Also during our chat, Loren gave a detailed explanation of how she came to sing “Never Enough” in the first place, her upcoming EP, and her surprising dream that involves yet another song from a motion picture.

Let’s start with the story about how you did a demo for “Never Enough,” and it went on to make it in the movie, but you wanted to stay behind the scenes, for readers who missed it.

I think some people are confused about the timeline of everything because I was signed to a record label [Island Def Jam Music Group] when I was 19 years old, right out of college from my posting some YouTube videos singing cover songs. I was discovered through that. I was signed for a couple of years but the songs that I would record were never making it out even though I kept being promised that my album would come out.

And then the record executives decided to put me on The Voice. That experience was difficult. My performances were cut into little clips, so I wasn’t really shown on the show. I think it was a producer decision to not show my episodes. So, it was a difficult situation because after years of being promised that my album would come out at the record label and then they decided to put me on a reality show, and then the reality show didn’t really show any of my rounds, after that I decided to quit the music industry because I was dealing with anxiety and depression.

After that I needed to make money, so I got a job in Brooklyn as a barista, and I also worked as a bartender and a waitress trying to make ends meet. I decided that I wanted to still be able to sing but I didn’t have any interest in being in the public eye. I just kind of figured that I wasn’t cut out for that sort of pressure.

<em>Loren Allred</em><p>Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC</p>
Loren Allred

Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC

So, through friends in New York, I was connected with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the writers for The Greatest Showman. I went in to do a demo for a different movie that they were working on and they just kept having me back. Then they had me come to the demo for “Rewrite The Stars” from The Greatest Showman first, and then I did the song “Tightrope” and “A Million Dreams,” and then they started getting the ensemble together to do the readings for the movie, and I was in the ensemble.

When they started recording the soundtrack and hired me to sing as part of the ensemble, I thought, “Oh, wow, this is going to be amazing. My voice is going to be on the soundtrack,” but I had no idea of what was to come. I knew that there was still a song that needed to be written for the character Jenny Lind, but there were a handful of different songs that they kept shuffling in and out that were written by a different songwriter. So, I heard those songs being sung in the readings, but they kept changing, so I knew that they were still trying to find the right song.

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And then Benj and Justin called me into the studio one day and they said, “Can you sing this melody? Can you belt this melody?” And they played me the melody of “Never Enough,” the chorus, and I said, “It’s really difficult but I can,” you know? And they said, “Okay, great,” and they wrote the rest of the song and then they had me come in and sing the demo. And as I’m singing this demo I’m thinking, “What actress is going to be able to sing this? This is one of the hardest songs I’ve ever sung.”

Eventually in the studio, it became clear that they were keeping a secret and I said, “What are you guys whispering and giggling about?” And they said, “We think that the director, Michael Gracey is going to end up using your voice in the film.” And I thought, “Oh wow, I will not believe that this is true until I’m sitting in the theater watching this movie.” I was so used to being promised certain things and it not happening that I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

I was really excited because it would enable me to put something out in the world that I was proud of that involved my singing, but I didn’t need to be in the public eye. I just felt almost touched that my story was ending up in a way that I was going to be comfortable with, and I knew that could have only happened by me stepping away from the industry and trusting my gut.

That process was really incredible because I got to meet Rebecca and I got to listen to her accent, and she also wanted to watch me performing the song so she could get used to my body movements. And she was so nice and so gracious, and I know that she had something to do with me being able to be her singing voice. I think she did such an amazing job in the movie with the way that she performed the song and emoted.

And also, I remember when they showed me the scene and I thought, “Oh, it’s so incredible, but I would love to just give it one more shot to make the lip sync seamless, so if you can roll the monitor into the booth and play the scene, then I will sing it while watching her.” So, when you watch the movie, that is what you’re seeing, is that performance, because I wanted to get the breathing right and the emotion right.

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With you wanting to stay out of the limelight, what made you finally say yes to Britain’s Got Talent?

It was during the pandemic, I had a lot of time to think, and although after the movie came out, I was able to do a bunch of private performances and even sing on Michael Bublé’s album and I sang on tour with David Foster, I still felt like I was in a comfortable place of being able to sing for a living but still nobody knew who I was. So that was really nice, that was almost my dream at the time.

But I started to realize that people thought that I was just singing a cover and sounded just like the movie, and part of me felt sad for the little girl that always wanted to be a singer like the singers that she looked up to like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion, singers who were fearless enough to put their face out there.

So, during the pandemic I thought, in order for me to not live with regrets, I need to just go for this and I can get stronger along the way. I also wasn’t dealing with depression anymore, I felt like I was in a clear-headed place and could maybe handle this now. So, when the producers reached out to me and said, “You know, this is Simon’s favorite song, and if you came here and were able to sing it, he would just be so surprised and so excited,” so that’s what I did.

<em>Loren Allred</em><p>Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC</p>
Loren Allred

Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

You have an EP coming out. When will that be? What’s going to be on it?

I’m in the studio right now, I just stepped out to make this call. This new EP is going to be reimagined versions of my favorite songs on The Greatest Showman soundtrack, plus an original song, and also a cover which is one of the songs that was supposed to be on my album when I was signed at a young age and was taken away. So, I feel like now is the time and absolutely the lyrics fit my story so perfectly, so this EP is going to be kind of like a celebration of the past, the present, and the future.

What is the dream now that you’ve gone public on this huge stage?

I’ve never headlined my own tour, I would love to do that. I’m an independent artist now, so I’m self-funding everything that I do from the instrumentalists that I hire to my music video crews, everything, and I would just love some support when it comes to that, may it be a record label or an investor, something like that. I have dreams in the acting world, I would love to originate a Broadway role. One of my No. 1 dreams of all time is to have a song in a James Bond film, so I’ve been trying to write songs that might suit a James Bond movie.

Great dream. In the meantime, are you making a living singing? Is that how you’re affording everything?

Yes, it’s really from private corporate performances that I’m able to fund my music career.

America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and next day on Peacock.

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