She's already impressed Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul on FOX's The X Factor, but just who is 42-year-old vocal powerhouse Stacy Francis?
Us Weekly uncovers five need-to-know details about the competition's early favorite.
1. Simon helped her beat the battle of the bulge! Prior to wowing Cowell with her audition song "Natural Woman," the single mom used the acerbic Brit judge as motivation to slim down. "I had Simon's picture on my wall to inspire me," Francis told E! News. "I made a commitment to myself that when he saw me and I got in front of the world, I was going to be 70 pounds lighter."
2. She's already been on Broadway, baby. Francis made her mark on the Great White Way in shows like Smokey Joe's Cafe and Footloose more than 10 years ago. "Stacy has actually performed professionally in many different things!" a source tells Us of the single mom. "She definitely had some professional success, not just singing in her bathroom at her house."
3. Once told she was too old to make it as a singer, the 42-year-old drew inspiration from U.K. X Factor contestant Susan Boyle, 50, when it came time to try out for the U.S. version. "It had to also do with me deciding, you know what? I can do this. Susan Boyle — she stepped out, she was brave enough. She had to go through 20,000 people as well so I'm gonna try," Francis told Access Hollywood.
4. Cowell's not the only A-lister impressed by Francis and her pipes. In 2004, Francis belted out "Old Time Rock and Roll" — with an assist from none other than Tom Cruise — during the actor's birthday bash on the Freewinds cruise ship. (Watch the hilarious video here)
5. 'X' might just mark the spot for Francis. Recording two albums with R&B girl group Ex-Girlfriend in the 90s, the singer has discovered a common thread in her career path prior to The X Factor. X Marks The Spot… was my first record," she told Access Hollywood. "It's funny you…maybe this means something!"
X Factor airs Thursday at 8 p.m. (EST) on FOX.
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