• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

'X Factor' Finalist Stacy Francis Releases Cover of Prince's 'Purple Rain' (Audio)

Stacy Francis LA audition L
Fox

After performing the 80s classic for the judges' house portion of season 1, the 43-year-old singer records a gospel version "for the fans."

When X Factor season 1 finalist Stacy Francis was handed Prince’s classic “Purple Rain” to sing during the competition’s early weeks, the “Over 30s” standout says she quite simply “freaked out.” Granted, it was her biggest audition yet: the judges’ house where Nicole Scherzinger, since relieved of X Factor duty, would decide whether a contestant would go through to the live shows or be sent back home.

It was also a huge challenge to take on because, says Francis, “I love Prince so much and I was quite intimidated.” So she went to her comfort zone: gospel, and preached the title track to the 1984 film. “I thought, ‘How do I take this song and make it mean something to me and my story?’” the 43-year-old single mom tells THR.  “So I did some reading online and found that, in some religions, the color purple represents God’s love. So I sang it from that viewpoint -- God's Love raining down on you – and had fans telling me, ‘You really moved me when you sang it.’" Indeed, even Scherzinger and guest judge Enrique Iglesias were moved to tears.

STORY: Britney Spears on 'X Factor': Crisis Management Experts Assess Her Chance of Success

Today, Francis is releasing a full version of the cover on iTunes, one she says is for her fans. “Kelly Clarkson gave everyone ‘A Moment Like This’ when she came off of American Idol, my fans have requested ‘Purple Rain’ so I did this for them.” (Worth noting: Prince said in 2011 that he believes covering songs without the original artist’s permission or blessing should be illegal.)

More new music is on the way from Francis, who is currently working on an album due out this summer that she says “will bring back some of the soul that I grew up on,” especially songs of inspiration. “I want to open people's eyes and hearts to inspirational music and give them hope,” she says. “A lot of people said I could not do it. They said my age is a factor. And lots of artist like me get thrown away because of age. I represent so many things that people need to be inspired by. My age, my struggle, abuse, doors being shut in the face. … Sometimes I wonder why I had to go through so much but power came through my pain and is conveyed through my songs. I didn't understand that until I did The X Factor.”

STORY: 'X Factor' U.K. Veteran Judge Louis Walsh to Return for Ninth Season

So why, after competing on what some would call a glorified karaoke contest, would she go out with a cover? In keeping with the theme of inspiration, Francis says Prince does the same for her. “Prince basically lives music,” she says. “He hardly sleeps and works all the time. He plays so many instruments and is a brilliant writer.  He is such an incredible artist that he makes me want to be better.”

A video for the song will soon debut via new desktop app Qubeey. Listen to a stream of Francis’ “Purple Rain” above and wartch her judges' house performance of the song below.