American Idol Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani grew up in suburban Connecticut, the oldest child of a teacher mom and a musician dad. With music always a part of the household, he began playing guitar and singing at the age of ten: a lot of talent nights in grammar school, a few ‘battle of the bands’ and joining his dad onstage. After earning American Idol’s top honors, Nick spent the summer touring the country with AMERICAN IDOL LIVE! and has begun work on his solo debut album for Big Machine Records. His single “Beautiful Life” is currently being introduced to radio, receiving support from the Idol community and beyond.
For 13-Year-Old singer/songwriter Skylar Stecker, making music is a way to channel her unstoppable energy while showing off a jaw-dropping vocal range that’s well beyond her years. The Middleton, Wisconsin native has a bright and beat-driven brand of pop – including debut single “Rooftop.” Whose video’s already racked up more than 5.5 million YouTube views. Skylar is now gearing up for the release of a full-length, co-written debut This Is Me that reveals her natural grasp of melody and dynamic vocal presence. “When I write my own songs they feel more authentic to me.
That way when I perform them, I can show my connection to the song, and people will know that this is my message.”
Hailing from South Africa, Connell Cruise is a singer-songwriter whose infectious instrumental riffs and accessible lyrics highlight the pop sensibility of his music. Although he makes catchy pop music, they are memorable on a deeper—CM more personal level—as they sonically reflect the YB sounds of South Africa which are so essential to who Connell is. A self-proclaimed romantic, Connell views the world in a refreshing light: take the good with the bad, find the beauty in everything, and enjoy the ride.
He stole the hearts of music fans when his debut album of 2013 spun off a trio of homegrown #1 radio hits that included “Not Just Friends,” “99%” and “I Oughta Tell You,” plus the surprise #1 cover of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” The album generated three SAMA (South African Music Award) nominations in 2014, including Best Adult Contemporary Album, Record of the Year for “Not Just Friends,” and Male Artist of the Year for Con- nell. His U.S. debut EP Into The Wild released July 31st, 2015 was co-written by James Shelley from American Authors & Ido Zmishlany (“Life of the Party”, “Something Big” by Shawn Mendes).
South Carolina-born, Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter Parson James likes to call his music “conflicted pop gospel,” and one listen to his single “Temple” and the description feels entirely apt. James’ song “Temple” came out of a moment he had while sitting in church. “I thought, ‘No one here would like me if they knew who I was,’” he says. “It’s kind of this, ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ thing. As long as you’re quiet, everything is cool. ‘Temple’ is about sitting in a pew and bursting at the seams wanting to yell, ‘I’m this way! I’m this person!’ I just want people to open their eyes and wake up.”
THE ROYAL CONCEPT
So what does a smile sound like?
Well, given its sun-soaked flavor, upbeat swing, and uncontainable energy, The Royal Concept’s second EP, Smile, could very well answer that.
The Swedish quartet—David Larson [vocals], Filip Bekic [guitar], Magnus Robert [bass], and Frans Povel [drums]—first achieved worldwide attention with their viral hit “D-D-Dance.” In 2013, the track hit #2 on Hype Machine, while its follow-ups “Gimme Twice” and ”World on Fire” reached #3 and #1 respectively. LAVA signed the group and released their debut The Royal EP as the band crisscrossed the globe to play live shows in packed venues. Simultaneously, their hit single, “On Our Way” received over 25 high-profile placements everywhere from Glee and MTV’s Catfish to FIFA 14. With a new batch of tunes, the group headed to Los Angeles to work with producer Tony Hoffer [M83, Phoenix, Depeche Mode, The Kooks]. 12 days later they emerged with the EP, Smile.
This time around, the boys used their two years on the road to infuse that live experience into the new songs. The Smile EP proudly combines a sonic fusion of alternative, pop and indie rock. It struts from funky guitar riffs into disco- style chants replete with sizzling falsetto and hip hop sounding beats. Overall, the EP serves one special pur- pose for The Royal Concept. As David proclaims, “I hope it makes everybody want to listen to the songs on repeat; to make people happy, to make people smile.”
Already on his way to becoming one of 2015’s international crossover-stories, Gavin James is a 22-year-old artist who grew up in a Dublin suburb. The son of a postman, music was arguably in Gavin’s blood: his maternal great-grandparents were both famous Irish Opera singers.
James began playing guitar at age eight. After years of playing Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin covers in the garden shed, he joined a band while in his teens and, upon drawing the short straw, was drafted as its singer. Inspired by local heroes like Damien Rice and classic soul artists such as Sam Cooke, Gavin played marathon three- hour shows at Dublin’s pubs during college, often perform- ing seven nights a week. His original material soon began to draw an impassioned following. James’ very first single won Ireland’s answer to the Mercury – the Choice Prize for Song Of The Year. Say Hello, James’ Irish debut EP, charted for more than six months, leading to a string of sold-out headline dates and supporting tours with such artists as Lianne La Havas, Beth Orton and Marina & The Diamonds.
In 2014, James recorded a rapturously received hometown show at Whelans, a legendary Dublin venue that he used to sneak into when he was underage. The resulting album, Live at Whelans – released by Capi- tol Records in the U.S. and by GS Believe internationally – climbed to #1 on iTunes in Ireland shortly after the pre-order launched. It included his cover of The Magnetic Fields’ classic “The Book of Love,” which reacted across Europe and America and was praised by Clash as “tender, emo- tional.” Diffuser.FM hailed Live at Whelans as “intriguing…an addictive
first tug in what promises to be a lengthy assault on listeners’ heartstrings.”
James’ distinct vocals and impassioned delivery have earned him a rapturous following overseas, and now, his impres- sive touring stints this year alongside
Sam Smith, Tori Kelly and Kodaline have accelerated his fast-growing fanbase. “His unassuming manner and straightforward approach to play was no indication of the kind of voice that would come out of this man: the kind of soul and depth that James produced with just his voice and a single acoustic guitar was on another level,” exclaimed Creative Loafing.
Earlier this year, James stopped to perform “The Book Of Love,” on The Late, Late Show With James Corden as well as Dancing With The Stars. The song reacted instantly and landed in the Top 10 of iTunes’ Singer/ Songwriter chart and went platinum in Europe. Now, the Fraser T Smith-produced “Bitter Pill” may arguably advance his potential to be one of 2015’s international crossover-stories.