AS if to show just how much her life has changed in the last five years, singer Sam Bailey apologises for being jet-lagged when she picks up the phone just hours after flying back from Los Angeles where she has been in the recording studio.

It all sounds a far cry from her life before she won the 2013 X Factor final, when she was working as a prison officer, patrolling the landings and corridors of HMP Gartree in Leicestershire, while at the same time performing on cruise ships, in clubs and at music festivals desperate for a break.

"I've just got back from LA this morning," she admits, as if she's just been out for the morning papers. "This latest trip was a bit of a holiday and I took the kids out and we stayed with friends but I still managed to get in the studio and record a few songs. Nothing is set in stone and I like that spontaneity of getting in a recording studio and recording something fresh."

Rewind to 2013 and her first X Factor audition, the memory of Sam blowing the judges away with her rendition of Beyoncé’s ‘Listen’, leading Gary Barlow to describe her voice as “incredible”, is still fresh in the memory of those fans of the show who took her to their hearts.

Under the mentorship of Sharon Osborne she became a clear favourite, dazzling audiences and judges alike with her stunning voice and natural stage presence. She received more than a million votes over the course of the final weekend and was crowned winner of the show.

Following her triumph, her debut single, ‘Skyscraper’, reached Christmas number one and her debut album, The Power of Love stormed to the top of the UK album charts in 2014.

The stage looked set for further success until in February 2015, she announced via her Twitter account that she had parted ways with Simon Cowell and his Syco Music.

"It's five years this Christmas and so much has happened in that time," she reflects. "They say time goes really quick when you're having fun and I've definitely had lots of fun.

"It wasn't a down moment when my contract wasn't renewed - I saw it as being set free. I was working to the bone and was recording when I was pregnant - I remember finishing the last song on my album and going home and going into labour. "That's what it was like working on a record label and I decided to set my own label up after that. I can now work my own timeframe and say yes to things and no to things so it was never that much of a disappointment not being with Syco. It made me that bit more free to make decisions and be my own boss."

Sam, 41, is a mother of three with daughter Miley, who was born in September 2014, joining Brooke and Tommy and it's clear that juggling her singing career with being a mum isn't always easy.

"I had children at home and I wanted to work around them," she says remembering her first flush of success which saw her support Beyonce and her album The Power of Love become the fastest seller of 2014.

"I had a commitment to them and it's not that the record company didn't care but that isn't their top priority.They want to get music out and work to their own timeframe. I was living out of hotels and running around like a headless chicken but it worked because I got a number one album out of it so they were doing the right thing and they were always great with me.

"Don't get me wrong - I'd love a new deal with a big label but I think there would have to be a few terms and conditions now. Back then I was still in the bubble and I was prepared to do anything because I didn't know what to expect.

"I'm a grafter so I like to be on the road doing stuff but my youngest just wants to be with me all the time so it's difficult."

Next month, Sam joins the bill of a brand new boutique festival coming to Cheshire where she joins the likes of Toploader, Mel C, Simon Webbe and Gok Wan at the inaugural Polofest held at Chester Lakes on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September. Fairground rides, entertainers and a retail village will feature as well as the animals of Stockley Farm Park, making this a truly family friendly day out.

"I'm always gigging and I love doing festivals where everyone just bundles to the front," laughs Sam. "The last song I do is the big number I did with Nicole on the X Factor and it gets everyone screaming.

"It's a great bill too - I've seen Gok DJing before in a club in London and he loves a dance behind the decks! It'll be a really event and I'm so excited about it."

Tickets for Polofest priced from £31.50 including five free rides on the mini-fairground and a welcome drink and are available from