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At Just 11 Years Old, Ty Waters Is Already Building His Pop Legacy

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At Just 11 Years Old, Ty Waters Is Already Building His Pop Legacy

Music Reviews

At Just 11 Years Old, Ty Waters Is Already Building His Pop Legacy

At Just 11 Years Old, Ty Waters Is Already Building His Pop Legacy

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/519269458/519282291" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Eleven-year-old Ty Waters channels the energy of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and others on his debut album, Only Human. Neal Hilton/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Neal Hilton/Courtesy of the artist

Eleven-year-old Ty Waters channels the energy of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and others on his debut album, Only Human.

Neal Hilton/Courtesy of the artist

Ty Waters is an 11-year-old singer from Vancouver, Canada. His remarkable voice has won him recognition and opportunities from an appearance at the Apollo Theater in New York to the Music and Media Awards show in Hollywood. Now, he's released his debut album, titled Only Human.

Waters started singing at 4, rendering spot-on renditions of Bobby Darrin and Frank Sinatra before moving on to his current heroes, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. If the song "Nervous" from Only Human brings to mind a Jackson classic, that's no accident. The song was written for Jackson, but never recorded.

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Initially, singing helped Waters overcome a speech impediment — but what began as therapy soon blossomed into a career. After attending a vocal music summit in California in 2015, Waters came under the wing of composer and producer Dawn Elder, who recognized an unusual talent and pulled together a crack team of seasoned composers and session players to record the album.

The energy those veterans drew from Waters, just 10 when the recording was made, is evident in the funky pop numbers and torch songs. Virtuosity and optimism from someone so young is a beautiful thing, and Waters has uncanny charisma on stage. But much credit also goes to his arrangers and musicians. This album is clearly a labor of love, and it may well prove to be the start of an impressive pop career as well.