On How He Began Singing
“I got into singing because my mom took me to a church and she just told the pastor, ‘Everybody says my son's smart but he just doesn’t want to pay attention in school. Can you pray for my son?’ And he was like, ‘Yes, sit him down here and I’ll talk to him.’ He just happened to be doing choir rehearsal. So he’s calling everybody to figure out what their voice types are and he’s like, ‘You come up here too!’ And I’m like, ‘But I’m not here for this.’ He’s like, ‘Come up here!’ I had to be 7 years old.
I kept going there and I would sing in the choir and I really just developed this love because I just loved the whole thing of me being on stage and singing.
"He gets on the piano and he’s like, ‘Hit this note.’ And I hit it and he’s like, ‘Hit this note,’ and he goes super high on the piano. He must have liked what he heard because he was like, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t believe anything is by chance!’ And he told my mom, ‘I think I figured out something for your son! I think he is very talented vocally.’ And my mom was like, ‘Really? He sounds terrible at home!’ She was never the mother to be like, ‘He’s just the best!’ She’s an island woman so she tells you how it is or isn’t.
"I kept going there and I would sing in the choir and I really just developed this love because I just loved the whole thing of me being on stage and singing. So I was like, ‘Ok, I’ll do all the solos. As long I get to sing the solos, I don’t want to be in the choir!’ Anytime they tried to put me in the choir, I would be so loud that they just had to give me the solo. That was like my goal. And it just turned into this serious love for music. I just told my mom, ‘I have to be a singer. Everything else bores me.’ So she realized that it’s not that you didn’t care about school, it’s just you were bored."
I just told my mom, ‘I have to be a singer. Everything else bores me.’
"My dad's a really great piano player, [and once I told him I wanted to sing] he was waiting for me to give up that invitation. He never wanted to force his musical traits on me. Once I said I wanted to be a singer, he turned into Joe Jackson, Mathew Knowles. It got intense. He was like, ‘If we do it right, the labels will come to you.’ Because I was like, ‘How do we get to the labels? How do we get the labels to pay attention?’ He was like, ‘If we do it right, they will come to you.’ And I’m like, ‘There’s no way a label is going to come. There’s too many people that want to be singers!’ He was like, ‘Trust me.’
"We did a little independent album and I wrote all the songs on the album and he produced every song. At that time iTunes was just starting out and back then, if people just liked your stuff—let’s say somebody would go and buy an Usher album or a top album would have come out, a Justin Timberlake album would have come out, [iTunes] would say, ‘If you like this album, you would also love...’ At that time, they would put my album there. We ended up [getting so many views] just off of the Internet and me covering my songs on YouTube. We ended up doing 60,000 units independently on iTunes.
“I was like 16 or 17. My dad was making about a little over $100,000 a year. He was able to quit his job. He did do professional gigs on the side but he was very successful at IT and computers. But we made so much money off that independent project that one day everybody in the school was like, ‘Are you rich?’ Overnight, they just started asking."