Loren Allred has spent the past decade collaborating with some of the hottest songwriters on Broadway on their songs. But until recently, no one knew her name.
That changed last April, when the now-33-year-old singer went on “Britain’s Got Talent” and announced herself as the true voice behind the hit song “Never Enough,” from the 2017 movie musical “The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams and Zendaya.
“I was more comfortable singing behind the scenes,” Allred told the crowd, her hands trembling. “But I feel kind of like the song was meant for me and I’m kind of ready to put a face to the song, so I’m here to do that.”
She began the song — which actress Rebecca Ferguson had “performed” in the movie —very softly, gaining confidence and strength as her voice dramatically rose an octave leading to the chorus.
By the end, she was belting “never, never, never” like a seasoned diva. The crowd leapt to their feet.
Even notorious curmudgeon judge Simon Cowell — who had told a teenaged Allred that she sang like a cruise ship singer during an audition for “American Idol” more than 10 years before — had tears in his eyes.
“I don’t think I’d ever been that nervous in my life,” Allred told The Post on a recent afternoon in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where she has lived for the past decade. “I just felt like this could either be a career-making experience, or the most embarrassing setback of my life.”
Fortunately, it turned out to be the former.
Allred made the final five on “Britain’s Got Talent,” debuted an original song on live TV (the love song “Last Thing I’ll Ever Need,” which she wrote on the plane after her audition), and gained legions of fans.
Now, she has a new six-track EP, “I Hear Your Voice.” Her first video — for the EP’s title track, an homage to her late grandmother who died of COVID — lands April 21.
“My last EP, ‘Late Bloomer,’ was all about healing,” Allred said — healing from intense performance anxiety and self-doubt, rejection and loss, and from watching the world give credit to someone else for a song that she made famous.
“I Hear Your Voice” is more assured. The record includes two covers, Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow,” with a spare piano line, and Lauren Daigle’s anthem “You Say,” which Cowell chose for Allred to sing for the “Britain’s Got Talent” semi-finals.
“That [song] really resonated because it was just like, ‘You say I’m strong when I think I’m weak,’” Allred said. “It’s about the many people who believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself, and that’s what happened to me.”
Loren Allred grew up in Pittsburgh, the oldest of three girls. Her father was a choral conductor, and her mother sang opera.
“She kind of trained our ears and taught us how to harmonize together,” Allred said of her soprano mother. “But I really didn’t have a formal voice lesson from her until recently, when I had to sing with Andrea Bocelli. I was like, ‘Mom! Help!’”
As a child, Allred sang in her father’s children’s choir, but she preferred Mariah Carey to Bach or Mozart. “I would lock myself in my room and just sing Mariah all day long,” she said. “It was almost like my little secret.”
For someone who loved belting like a diva, Allred was painfully shy. She did not put on shows for her family and actively shunned the spotlight.
“I struggled in school,” Allred admitted. “I had this alien-on-Earth feeling that I just didn’t understand — all I knew was that when I showed my real personality, it was rejected immediately from people in school. So that created my worst fear [that] by my personality out there, I had this feeling like they’d find out the real me and reject me.”
Yet she couldn’t keep her talent completely hidden.
At 15, she was living in Utah, where her family had moved, when a friend heard Allred singing along to the radio and urged her to audition for a school talent show. Allred performed Mariah Carey’s “Someday” and brought down the house.
Her parents, they told her later, sat in the audience wondering, “Where did this come from?”
Allred went to a local college for a year to study musical theater, then transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston. A classmate there convinced her to post videos of herself singing on YouTube, where the rapper Ne-Yo first took notice.
He convinced her to move to Atlanta and she was signed to Island Def Jam. The label — not sure what to do with Allred — had her audition for “The Voice,” which she said was a humiliating experience.
“I was there for almost a year [doing various auditions and competing], but for some reason, they didn’t air my whole songs for three rounds,” she said. “So then when we got to the live shows, no one [watching the show] knew who I was.”
Plus, the producers of the TV show would go back to the record label and complain about her interviews. “They would be like, ‘She’s socially awkward.’”
Shortly after that Def Jam dropped her. “I was just emotionally exhausted and decided that I think I want to stay behind the scenes,” Allred said.
Allred moved to New York City in 2010 and eventually fell in with a theater crowd. She fronted a wedding band, worked as a barista and a bartender and started singing demos — or the reference tracks that songwriters record for the actors in a movie or show.
A friend hooked her up with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the award-winning songwriting duo behind “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” She recorded a demo for a song they were writing for “Pitch Perfect 3” and soon she was regularly working with them.
One day, Pasek and Paul called her to say they were writing a new song for the movie “The Greatest Showman” and wanted her to sing it.
When the songwriters played the song for actress Rebecca Ferguson, who was meant to sing it in the movie, she suggested they keep Allred’s voice on the soundtrack.
“I really didn’t believe it until I was at the screening, in the theater with all my friends,” Allred recalled. When she heard her own voice, “I cried.”
That song, “Never Enough,” became a hit. But while Ferguson acknowledged Allred in interviews, she remained largely anonymous.
“It was never a secret, but it just never got much press,” Allred said. “And at the time, I was really comfortable with it just being like that.”
Residuals from the recording allowed Allred to quit her bartending job. Michael Bublé saw her name in the movie credits and asked her to duet with him. She toured with David Foster and Andrea Bocelli, who brought her out to sing “Never Enough” at their concerts.
Yet “people still thought I was doing a cover of Rebecca Ferguson’s song,” Allred said. “They would always say, ‘You sound just like the movie!’ So it started to bother me a little bit, and I just thought, ‘Maybe I’m not completely comfortable being behind the scenes.’”
Then COVID happened, and Allred had a lot of time to think about her career. She had started working with two producers and a songwriter who convinced her to step out of the shadows. She also saw a psychiatrist — who told her she had undiagnosed ADHD.
“It just explained everything,” Allred said. “I had thought I was stupid, I thought something was wrong [with me]. It wasn’t just a casual like, ‘I hate attention.’ It really was like, ‘I don’t know if I’ll be able to live if the world is bullying me.’ So that diagnosis … I realized, these things aren’t a moral failure.”
Allred decided to take the plunge and go on “Britain’s Got Talent” (she eventually finished the show in ninth place) and introduce herself to the world not just as the voice of “Never Enough,” but as an artist in her own right.
“It really felt so good, because I was facing my fear head-on,” Allred said. “And that was the moment where I really saw like, ‘Okay, there’s no going back.’”