Something about Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” struck Marcus Canty at 11 years old. Where basketball shorts and Kobe Bryant once held a special place, Stevie’s Motown groove stepped in.
For the 21 year-old who won the hearts of America on Fox’s “X Factor” talent show, it appears music loves him back.
With enough talent to transform Rihanna into a shy fan admitting she “had to look away” as he sang to her, Canty is ready to share his smooth tenor with the world on his debut EP “This…Is Marcus Canty,” guided by his idol Epic President Antonio “L.A.” Reid.
Born in Washington, D.C., Marcus Canty was raised by his mother in Palmer Park, Maryland along with his older sister in a full house with their aunt and her three children.
But by his early teens, music began to creep in. Raised on a diet of Al Green, the O’Jays and Wonder thanks to his grandmother, Canty hit the talent show circuit and signed up for a show called “Talent Rock.” This talent competition marked the first of many accolades as Marcus was named top ten in the vocal category, print modeling and won an acting scholarship to New York’s School for Film & Television. At eleven years old, Marcus won second place with a rendition of Yolanda Adams’ “Still I Rise,” as he beat out competitors twice his age at the non-televised portion of Amatuer Night At The Apollo. By fifteen, Marcus now performed televised in front of the notoriously tough audience at “Showtime At The Apollo” and sang Trey Songz’ “Gotta Go,” which landed him second place.
In 2009, Canty was chosen over hundreds of highschool seniors across the nation by the National Foundation for Advancement In The Arts – YoungArt (which recognizes and supports America’s most talented 15-18 year olds in the visual, literary and performing arts), and inducted into the organization.
After graduating high school in 2009 and exhausting the performance circuit around his native Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, where he opened for Bow Wow, B5 and Hurricane Chris, the young tenor connected with an independent label from the Motor City.
But while crafting what he hoped would garner a major label deal, Marcus heard about the “X Factor” auditions and saw his chance at stardom. And once he learned that music executive Antonio “L.A.” Reid would be serving as a judge and coach on the talent show, it seemed all too perfect. Upon graduating highschool, Marcus was faced with an ultimatum that left him at a crossroad. Implemented by his mother, Marcus was given two years to pursue a career in music and if he was not successful within that two year frame he would then have to go to school. It was at this moment that Canty knew his back was up against the wall and that he had to nail his X Factor audition.
Describing his sound as R&B with a pop twist, Marcus looked up to the showmanship of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Usher.
Recently Marcus Canty spoke with Aries from UrbanBridgez.com about his debut EP “This…Is Marcus Canty” (available now on iTunes) being a contestant on X-Factor, receiving major celeb support, acting opportunities and much more!
UrbanBridgez.com: What was the best part for you filming your latest video “Used By You?”
Marcus Canty: The best part of the video is when I got to do a lot of the things with the chair really. I wanted to show something different, as far as what I do with my performance and stuff. So I wanted to do something a little different than the norm, to bring a little flavor and a different feel to the song. Obviously the song speaks volumes for itself, but when you do a video you can put a different element to it. To speak on the words with movement, you know. So yeah the chair was my favorite part and of course the lady (both laugh).
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about This…Is Marcus Canty and what kind of vibe is on your debut release?
Marcus Canty: With This…Is Marcus Canty, I wanted it to be just some really good music. Just really feel good music, I have some edgy records and some good R&B. That’s really what it was all about, just some feel good R&B and bringing that back to music again. There are a lot of artists bringing it back and I wanted to be one of those to keep it rolling. This…Is Marcus Canty is just letting people know who I am and how I feel about R&B. What I think it should sound like and stand for. So yeah, just a little bit of that, no features it’s all me.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of the producers who contributed to this release?
Marcus Canty: Well one of my favorites who did on my project is Harmony. He actually did the In & Out song and Infinity out of L.A. did the Used By You record. Won’t Make A Fool Out of You was done by Soundz also out of L.A. Tricky Stewart is my A&R, so he got me going with the best of the best. He told me when I got off of the show X-Factor that he had a lot of talented friends watching me and was like we have to take it to the next level. So me, Tricky, LA and Epic got it going together. I’m excited man, really excited!
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s the song on the EP not released, that you’re the most excited for your fans to hear and why?
Marcus Canty: I’m an R&B guy, I have a lot of female fans I mean I have male fans as well. But a lot of female fans and followers and I have a song called Not Looking, produced by Soundz. It’s a song that’s for the ladies, it’s relatable. And I like for my songs to be really relatable. It’s about a girl and the basis of it is she just wants to have fun. I think a lot of ladies are going to vibe to this record and a lot of people are going to pick up on it.
UrbanBridgez.com: You recently performed at the Soul Train Awards , in a tribute to Luther Vandross, how was that experience?
Marcus Canty: It was crazy man, I finally got to meet Bobby Brown and New Edition it was really fun to do that. When they heard me singing they loved it. They were all getting up in rehearsal and was like we thought it was time for the show (laughs). I had a lot of fun doing that and met a lot of people like Anthony Hamilton and some more people. It was a great experience and a lot of great people were there. Lots of nice and humble people, just being in the same class and club as them man just felt good to be around those circles.
UrbanBridgez.com: We first were introduced to you from X-Factor, and it really seemed like you could take the top spot, after you were eliminated, did you ever have any regrets about some of the song choices for you?
Marcus Canty: (laughs). I don’t really have any regrets on the song choices..you know, I was on team LA Reid and I feel like we tried to come up with things together. To give me something different and not try to keep me so much into a box so to speak. It’s TV and sometimes taking risks may have hurt me, but at the same time I did what I wanted to do at the end of the day. It wasn’t no pressure on me and I had fun.
UrbanBridgez.com: What was the best and worst thing about being a contestant on X-Factor?
Marcus Canty: Well the best for me obviously is if you love to sing and perform, that moment when you get on stage and you’re out there in front of millions of people watching, that alone is crazy. It’s the best feeling and to me when you get to perform for an audience and get to do what you love to do, that’s the best moment. I don’t know about anybody else, but that’s the best moment for me. The worst part obviously to me was not being around your family so much, specially with me being all the way across the other side of the country. My mom visited me every show which was dope. A lot of my family, I got nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, cousins, etc. were all at home so it was nice to see them when I could. I wasn’t use to that much, because I’m a family man so I’m always around my family. But being so far away I just had to say hey man, I got to do what I have to do. It all worked out for the good.
UrbanBridgez.com: I’ll admit, I watched you on X-Factor and thought you were really good, but at first you wasn’t on my top list as far as contestants. However, two mutual friends of ours Shanice & Flex use to tweet about you left and right each week and it made me pay closer attention and we both know if Shanice is co-signing a singer, then they’re it!
Marcus Canty: Shanice is my girl! No doubt!
UrbanBridgez.com: How does it feel when you get celeb support being a new artist?
Marcus Canty: It means a lot, because growing up I look up to a lot of these people. Like I was saying earlier to be in the same club, for them to tweet and talk about you and say these great things about you, it builds your confidence even more! It makes me want to do more and it motivates me to do more and stay connected with them too. It’s easy to get disconnected and be lost and loose direction. But you always have to keep those relationships tight, specially with like Flex and Shanice. They were really cool to me when I was first on X-Factor, that’s when I met them. So it really meant a lot to me for them to talk to me and they actually invited me and my mom over around Christmas time. We went to their house, so it was really nice man.
UrbanBridgez.com: Yeah they’re really good people! Being a new artist what’s been the best industry advice you’ve received and from who?
Marcus Canty: To be honest the best advice I ever got was from LA Reid, he said don’t ever let anybody take away your joy! That’s the best advice he ever gave me, he said a lot of times things don’t go your way and things may seem bad at times, but at the same time you have to always keep your joy and have fun with what I’m doing. Specially with music I have to enjoy it, once the joy is taken out of the music it becomes too much of a job when you’re not having fun anymore. You’re not doing what you love to do, you’re doing it as it’s a job. So not letting anything take away my joy is the key and doing my music the way I like to do it and let people enjoy it. Put out good music and let people enjoy it, that’s what it’s about.
UrbanBridgez.com: Outside of music, what else are you currently working on?
Marcus Canty: I’m going to be doing some acting, I was actually acting before I started to sing. So now I’m building on that and getting in some acting classes. I’m going to start getting some things soon with my booking agent and the team. Auditions and things and I also have my own LLC, so I’m going to start to build my own business, it’s called Marxus Musix. I’m building my company up based around my career. Eventually we’re going to venture out and do some more business things. Then I have a non-profit called Young Artists Making A Difference. I’m really excited about that. It really started when I was in school I use to go on different trips, me and my mom use to come up with different ideas and things like that. Plan a lot of trips and things, sometimes people can’t get funded for certain things, pay for instruments, take trips, etc. So with my non-profit we want to build it around that. Help the Arts get built back up in schools, really excited about that. I have a lot of things coming up man.
UrbanBridgez.com: Really good! You actually recently made our annual Top 10 To Watch Out for in 2013 list for UB, so congrats on that.
Marcus Canty: Thanks Man, I really appreciate that!
UrbanBridgez.com: No problem! Who are some of the artists you’re looking out for this year?
Marcus Canty: I actually really like Rihanna’s album, Miguel is dope! Frank Ocean, I can’t wait to hear Beyonce’s stuff come out, I’m a huge fan of Bee. And I have to say Fabolous mixtape is hot.
UrbanBridgez.com: Is there anything else you want to leave with your fans?
Marcus Canty: I love my fans and the new ones too who check this out, come join the party. I love new friends, fans, followers, haters, whatever you want to be. Come join because MC is not going anywhere for a long time.