Go ahead, call it a comeback. Singer James Arthur does

NEW YORK — It's time for James Arthur's next interview of the day and the soulful British singer gets up off a sofa at Sony headquarters, dutifully tucks away his phone and greets a visitor with his full attention.

"So what we doing, chatting about me? I don't do that very often," he says with a wry smile. "It's interesting how artists get narcissistic. Wonder how that happens?"

Arthur's bemused perspective on life has been earned the hard way. His story is one of rags to riches to rags and riches again. It has made him almost anti-narcissistic.

"I was dealt quite a few bad hands in this life. My gift is my ability to express myself through my voice," he says. "I think I'm able to do that with sincerity because I really feel it. I really do hold pain in my heart from the life that I've led."

Arthur went from uploading his music onto MySpace and having his electricity cut off to earning a record deal after winning Britain's version of "The X Factor" in 2012. He then had a very public falling from grace after a series of ill-advised tweets and was dropped from his record label.

The 29-year-old has bounced back with a superb second album — "Back From the Edge" — with the hit single "Say You Won't Let Go" — and a book about his rocky journey, "Back to the Boy." He's touring the U.S. with OneRepublic and hoping America will embrace him back.

"I was very lost. Very, very lost before I embarked on the journey of creating this body of work, and it was cathartic and therapeutic," he says. "The aim was to find myself."

In his new batch of songs, Arthur doesn't hide from his sins. "I've been burning in hell/ But now I'm back," he sings in the title song. In other tunes, he refers to himself as a "condemned prisoner," asks to be pulled from a "train wreck" and is "a dead man walking," confessing, "I am the one who beat me black and blue."

There are moments of levity — Arthur raps playfully and name-checks Lana Del Ray and Beyonce in one song — but there's no avoiding an artist seriously beating himself up for mistakes. "If only/ I could go back in time/ When you were a friend of mine," he sings.

"I just made the most honest, conversational stuff that I could, the most soulful stuff that I could at that time," he says. "The mantra was honesty. That was the main thing."

Arthur's other rehabilitation project is his book, which he didn't want to become a typical tell-all. He has suffered from panic attacks and depression and says he wants it to be a self-help guide.

"The only way that my fans and people who don't know about me and don't understand why I've gone off the rails and done these crazy things — they need to know the boy before they can know the man," he says. "The aim is just to inspire people and get people out of bed that are feeling depressed."

Neil Rodford, CEO of James Grant Management, which manages Arthur, says he has "undeniable talent" who has practiced his craft for many years: "It's pleasing to see his efforts paying dividends on both sides of the Atlantic."

Arthur's music reflects his various interests growing up in the northeast industrial British city of Middlesboro. His mom played David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Lauren Hill and Prince, while his heavy metal-loving dad passed on his love of Black Sabbath. "I was an angry teenager, so I wanted to put my hood up and be Eminem," Arthur says. "When I heard Nirvana, that was game over."

Arthur's childhood included foster care and abuse of antidepressants. He once had to sell his guitar to pay the rent. His mother blackmailed him to audition for "The X Factor" by offering to lend him enough money to turn his lights back on. That came after his sister forced him to audition for another reality music show.

"They were so frustrated with me. I was this kid that was in a band and I wanted to make it like that. I wanted to make it in a band. I wanted to do it the organic way," he says. "But everyone looked at me and went, 'He's got no money, he lives five hours away from London, there's no opportunities around here. He's got no backing, no management, nothing. He's going nowhere.'"

The glow from winning the contest didn't last long. Arthur soon denigrated One Direction as a "marketing product" and feuded with member Louis Tomlinson. He also got into an ugly spat with a British rapper, using a homophobic slur and urged the other man to kill himself. He has repeatedly apologized and mended his relationship with Tomlinson.

"I'm a grown-up now, I think. As much as I'll ever be. I'm grown-up now. I was a little lost boy four, five years ago," he says. "I'm probably in an even better place to create relatable music now being that I'm happy."

___

Online: http://www.jamesarthurofficial.com/

___

Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Related News

2 Fox News execs named co-presidents, will report...

Aug 12, 2016

Rupert Murdoch moves to set up a new management structure at Fox News following Roger Ailes'...

Is NBC's prime-time Olympics due for a change?

Aug 12, 2016

For all the changes media and even Olympics coverage, NBC sticks to a time-honored formula for its...

After storm halts tribute, A-Rod doubles in...

Aug 13, 2016

His pregame tribute ended by a storm, Alex Rodriguez began his final game with the New York Yankees...

Nephew in 'Making a Murderer' has conviction...

Aug 13, 2016

A judge has overturned the conviction of a Wisconsin man found guilty of helping his uncle kill a...

At 93, legendary climber Fred Beckey still...

Aug 13, 2016

Legendary Seattle climber Fred Beckey is the focus of a new documentary film about his life

A-Rod released by Yankees, who owe him $27...

Aug 13, 2016

Alex Rodriguez has been unconditionally released by the New York Yankees, ending his 12 years in...

You may also like these

NBC chairman blasts Trump in private Facebook post

Aug 16, 2016

The chairman of NBC Entertainment is slamming Donald Trump, the network's onetime "Apprentice" star

Gawker sold to Univision in aftermath of Hulk...

Aug 16, 2016

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision won an auction Tuesday for Gawker Media, which was put on...

AP Exclusive: Taylor Swift donating $1 million to...

Aug 17, 2016

Taylor Swift is donating $1 million to Louisiana after torrential rains caused massive flooding and...

'American Horror Story' coming to Halloween...

Aug 17, 2016

The ghosts, vampires and other freaky misfits from "American Horror Story" are coming to Universal...

New Pennsylvania AG was prosecutor who didn't...

Aug 17, 2016

The former county prosecutor taking over the duties of Pennsylvania's convicted attorney general is...

There are so many celebrities out there, but who’s the real Diva? Discover more on your favorite celebrities and get closer to them only here in The Diva Today

Contact us: sales@thedivatoday.com