Ella Henderson hosted a Billboard Live At-Home performance from her parents’ English countryside home on Wednesday (April 15) to raise money for Direct Relief, which provides healthcare workers with personal protective equipment.
With her brand-new keyboard, Henderson reminisced on her songwriting process at her family home earlier in her career before discussing how her do-it-yourself EP release during quarantine has given her a full-circle moment. “It’s been a weird one actually, because, obviously I’m at home, and I was midway through sorting all the assets and all my artwork out for my new EP, so having to do that from home with my mum and dad has been quite interesting,” she disclosed. “I’m having to do it all DIY, so thank God a lot of my vocals and stuff are finished on this, but there’s still some production stuff that I’m finishing up.”
Henderson demonstrated her hard work firsthand by performing one of the new tracks, “Brave,” which she first teased during her sold-out show at London’s Hoxton Hall last November. “Originally, we wrote this song when I was in a place where I still needed to build my self-confidence again, and I guess this song right now kind of resonated with me even more during this, and I think with what’s going on in the world right now,” she said.
The stirring piano ballad builds on itself with an empowering rhythm to match the song’s message of being brave “when trouble wrecks your heart and the world’s gone dark and your soul is black and blue.” The rest of the chorus sounds equally universal in an illness-stricken world as it does personal in a downtrodden state of mind: “We still got love to give/ Got a lot to live for/ We’ll pull through/ Brave, I’ll be brave/ You can pray, I’m gon’ pray for you/ And even when it hurts/ Baby, I’ll be brave for you.”
But the 24-year-old pop star felt equally excited about performing a cover for her fans, who predominantly voted on her Instagram poll for Dua Lipa‘s “Physical.” “I just think it’s an absolute banger. … When I listen to it driving in the car, it’s a very personal song and it means something to me and it takes me back to a certain time,” she said before transposing the club-ready banger into an invigorating, yet soothing, piano ballad.
In the midst of the “Physical” cover, the British singer paid homage to one of her The X Factor UK performances from 2012 by seamlessly weaving in another cover of “Written in the Stars” by fellow British rapper Tinie Tempah.
Watch Henderson’s whole Billboard Live At-Home performance below, and donate to Direct Relief here.