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They say it’s never too late and 54-year-old Lillie McCloud can certainly attest to that. She’s the frontrunner on “The X Factor” and a surprise discovery who has thrilled judges and fans with her beautiful voice and towering Afro. But this is not McCloud’s first time at the rodeo. Though unknown to the vast majority of today’s music fans, as Nicole McCloud, she had several dance hits in the 90’s and released three albums. So maybe not a totally brand new discovery, but still and all, McCloud seems poised to walk away from “The X Factor” with new name recognition and a chance to use the show as a vehicle for superstardom.

Some things just need time to come to fruition but so far, McCloud, a grandmother of seven (and one on the way) who hails from Orlando, Fl., is the show’s breakout star. But her crowning has seen its share of delays – the World Series, also airing on Fox, has moved ‘The X Factor” schedule around and McCloud says contestants aren’t even sure about timing.

“We don’t even know. They’ve changed so many things around this year. It’s going to continue going on through the third week of December. It’s really exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.”

The show’s first live telecast is now Tuesday, October 29 at 8 p.m., moved to accommodate Game 5 of an all tied up World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. So far, McCloud been one of the biggest surprises on any reality singing competition – the biggest surprise since “Britain’s Got Talent’s” Susan Boyle was discovered at 47. 

But naysayers think that McCloud had an unfair advantage as she has already been a recording artists with hits on the dance charts. Although she’s no longer singing songs in that genre, some feel her “discovery” was manufactured for TV.

“That’s what ‘The X Factor’ is about – bringing back careers that didn’t quite make it or discovering new talent. They ask you questions about everything you’ve ever done and your whole history. As long as you don’t have a contract now and you’ve had quite a distance of time go by without having any kind of contract. As for Lillie, Simon started calling me that. I would prefer to go by Nicole because that was my stage name for so long, but I thought I guess I’m Lillie then.”

McCloud did have an international hit with “Don’t You Want My Love,” but says she wasn’t going to get much farther than what it was – a top 3 Dance hit.

“I just believe it wasn’t’ my time,” McCloud says.

Well, Lillie McCloud, looks like your time has come.

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