Back in 2014, Kerrie Masters was on the verge of something rather exciting.
She’d won the Factor Essex competition, opened Wembley Arena for the likes of Kelly Le Roc, and was getting some record industry interest.
But then she got ill, was unable to gig, and music had to take a backseat, while she desperately tried to get better.
Now, nearly ten years later, she’s back, with her debut EP, which she started back in 2014, but after a labour of love, has finally seen the light of day.
Born in Chadwell Heath and growing up in Brentwood, Colchester been Kerrie’s home for the last 12 years.
“I’ve always been singing, ever since I was very young. My Nan used to play the piano and I used to sit and watch her. I’d be able to pick up the songs quite quickly, it was just something that I used to do and I suppose it went from there.”
Kerrie started music lessons at the age of 10, learning the violin as well as the piano but she was writing songs even before that.
“I had a little Casio keyboard,” she adds, “and I wasn’t very old at all, probably around 11, and I remember performing it in the living room. It was about love and I think it was called ‘It doesn’t seem to matter what I want, baby’ or something like that.”
Continuing through secondary school, Kerrie wrote for herself, never thinking it would eventually lead to a slot at Wembley.
Her first proper music gigs were with a covers band and then the Red Hot Radiators, who she performed with for a good few years.
“I wasn’t performing my own stuff at all,” she says, “so eventually I went along to a studio and recorded some tracks. I was still gigging, which gave me a lot more experience, but I really wanted to go alone.”
And so she entered Factor Essex, the annual county talent contest, which she went and won in 2014, which in turn led to a dream slot at Wembley Arena, opening for the likes of Kele Le Roc, Miss Dynamite and Shola Ama.
“Looking back now,” she smiles, “I still can’t quite believe that it happened. It was just the biggest high but I suppose at the time you can’t quite grasp the gravity of the whole thing. What I do remember vividly, is that Kele Le Roc was so incredibly nice and welcoming. I was pinching myself, saying ‘did Kele Le Roc just wave and say ‘hello’ to me’.”
Riding very much on the crest of a wave, Kerrie got herself a manager who started pushing her music. But just as the record companies were starting to take interest, she suddenly got ill.
“I started to feel really unwell,” Kerrie tells me, “and soon after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which effectively stopped me from gigging, which meant I was unable to promote my debut EP. It was all recorded, we just didn’t get the chance to mix and master it because I was hospitalised.”
Kerrie was admitted to hospital three times in those early days but after a while, with the right medication, she got it under control. With her manager passing away during the pandemic, Kerrie decided to revisit the EP and found a producer on-line who she sent the tracks to.
“It was really important for me to get it finished,” she explains. “Not just closure for me but also a tribute to my old manager. The producer, Craig Turner, was from Reading but the guy who mastered it, Brian Lucey, was based in LA and had worked with the likes of Black Keys, Lizzo and Liam Gallagher. That was the icing on the cake.”
Released last year, Better Place is available to stream on Spotify and has already had airplay on BBC Introducing with Kerrie taking it out on the road with several gigs in London. Along with Manchester-based DJ and producer Soulfuledge, their remix of one of the tracks off the EP, Butterfly, has been getting a lot of interest.
She says: “I have never thought about singing House music but I really enjoyed the challenge and love working with new people as they bring different experiences to the table that I can really learn from. Soulfuledge is an example of this as he has such knowledge and love for his craft. It’s a real honour to be working with him.”
Next week, on April 13, she’s back in London, headlining the iconic Bedford pub in Balham, where the likes of Paolo Nutini, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith began their careers.
Maybe it will be the new start for Kerrie too!

Kerrie’s Finally Found Her Better Place: Neil D’arcy-jones Meets Singer/songwriter Kerrie Masters
Life’s Better: Kerrie’s debut EP, which was finally released last year after an eight year wait.