When Lillie McCloud stepped up on stage during the premiere of Wednesday night’s X Factor, judge Kelly Rowland couldn’t help but ask the 54-year old singer one question: "Where have you been hiding?"
The answer was revealed by McCloud’s daughter on Twitter, who tweeted a family secret: the Orlando resident is actually Nicole McCloud, an R&B singer with some success in the music industry in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
As MJsBigBlog earlier reported, a simple Google search revealed that McCloud has impressive credentials, having performed alongside Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Kool and the Gang.
It is interesting to note that McCloud has had a few top ten hits on the U.S. dance charts, first in 1985 with “Don’t You Want My Love” and again in 1994 with the No. 3 charting “Runnin’ Away.” In 2002, she struck once more with the song “Search’n,” which also earned her a nomination for the International Dance Awards.
McCloud did take time off to raise her family, and for a while relocated to Slovakia, taking up residence in the city of Košice with her partner Günter Kronsteiner, a football trainer. While there, she performed the title song for the Slovakian version of Britain’s Got Talent, ‘?esko Slovensko má talent’.
While all of this has shades of season one alum Stacy Francis, who also recorded professionally and appeared on Broadway prior to her X Factor audition (the producers even provided McCloud with the triumphant Francis theme music of The Supremes' hit “’Aint No Mountain High Enough”), McCloud’s daughter vehemently defends her mom against accusations of lying about her professional past and presenting herself as a mom and grandmother who never got a break.
“This is not about not using ones gift at all. My mother sings to eat and always has. DISCOVERED! LOL did you know her before tonight? She opted of that! and trust me it wasn't for lack of ability! I know better than anyone the opportunities which where forfeited for me. I know the WORLD should have seem my mother way before this evening! "Where have you been?" was asked tonight! I'll tell you singing where ever singers can get work. NOT on international television before millions!” she posted.
The younger McCloud continued to argue: “If someone with a voice like my moms is not a superstar already. That's pretty unlucky. Artists have to keep trying! People will throw them bones here and there & life may slow them down, the industry will bite,and steal (ALL of this has happened to Lille) but if they want to make it big for real! They should never ever give up! “
A rep for Fox did not immediately return THR's request for comment.