I’m just an ambitious kid dedicated to chasing my dreams. I believe I have a purpose and things don’t happen by fluke, but rather for a reason.
Ever since I can remember there was never a time that I wasn’t singing, dancing or listening to music. I’ve always loved every genre of music but what I remember most is how inspiring 90’s R&B and hip-hop was. People like Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Nas, The Fugees, Aaliyah, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey. Music was the one constant, unchanging thing that surrounded me. The passion I had for music then has never left me. I always knew exactly what my dream was. I wanted to make other people feel the way these artists made ME feel.
I never told anyone of my dream because I was afraid of hearing other people’s opinions about how impossible it would be to make it. It reminds me of a lyric I once heard in a J. Cole song called “Too deep for the intro” – “If they don’t know your dreams, then they can’t shoot ‘em down” – a perfect way to describe how I felt.
I always sang in my room quietly, where no one could see or hear me. I wasn’t even sure if I was a good singer. I had never had vocal training. The closest I could get to that was taking choral singing in high school. At the time I didn’t see it like this, but this was the first step in pursuing my dream.
In my first year of high school, my choral singing teacher convinced me to sing during a fashion show. I sang a song by Alicia Keys I had memorized from doing karaoke in the class. Although there was barely anyone was there, I can still remember how nervous I was. Two months later, right around my 16th birthday I entered a local radio singing competition in Edmonton, hosted by 91.7 The Bounce. Since I already had it memorized, I sang the same Alicia Keys song that I had performed in school. I ended up winning! I owe so much to The Bounce, and if you asked me if there was any single day or event that changed my life, I’d tell you it was this one. Winning the Bounce Showdown gave me the opportunity to work with Hipjoint Music Group to produce 4 songs.
The idea that my hopes and dreams could finally come true became a reality when I heard my single “Cover Girls” on The Bounce for the first time. I was the happiest I had ever been. I had something huge to look forward to and I had no idea where I was going to end up, there were no limits to how far my dream could go.
I struggled to balance school with music. I was playing a lot of small shows to get comfortable being on stage. While I was doing that, a few of my songs landed gigs of their own. For example, “Cover Girls” was used in an episode of the TV series “Da Kink in My Hair”, and “Get Loose” was placed in American Pie 7: Book of Love. My song “D’n’G” got me my first airplay outside of Alberta when it was added to the playlist at Flow 93.5 in Toronto.
The journey hasn’t always been easy. I grew up in a single parent household, where my mom worked two jobs to support my little brother and me. I always had a very hard time relating to anyone. My mindset was always different from kids my age. In high school, it seemed like everyone’s objective was to get drunk, party and hook up. I grew sick of the drama and pointless gossip.
Someone once told me something that has stayed with me. “You will become the average of the top five people you spend the most time with”. I remember going home and thinking about that. I didn’t talk to many people, but I noticed that the people I was spending the most time with were not headed in the direction that I wanted to go in. Seeing this, I made a conscious decision to distance myself from them, and tried to find like-minded individuals. I’m still searching.
During Canadian Music Week, I was introduced to Ivan Berry and Daniel Mekinda from Tanjola Brand Partners. With their support, I produced three songs, and Tanjola soon became my management company. In March 2011 I was nominated for a Juno Award for “Stars”. I was also nominated for a Canadian Radio Music Award that same month for “D’n’G.” I unexpectedly won the Juno for “Best Soul/R&B Single”. This was the BIG ONE! I couldn’t believe it. It was one of the most nerve-racking moments of my life. There I was, making an awkward speech on stage in front of hundreds of important music industry folks, cracking jokes as I accepted the Juno.
At one of the Junos gatherings, I was having a casual conversation with a man and he asked me what type of music I sang and if I had a label yet. He surprised me by pulling out his card, handing it to me and saying, “I might be able to help you. I work for a little label called Warner.” He turned out to be Ron Lopata, Warner’s Vice-President of A&R, and just five months after the Juno win I was signed to Warner Music Canada. Now that I had a record deal, I wanted to be closer to the action. I worked two jobs, and saved my money so I could move to Toronto to pursue my dream.
I intend to live my dream to its full potential and fulfill my purpose doing what I love. I always thought that growing up and becoming an adult would be the highlight of my life. I feel like I’m just beginning a long and exciting journey. I’m in no hurry to grow up. This moment right now is the highlight of my life. This is my story. My journey to the top.