HOW A SKINNY KID FROM CALI BECAME AN R&B SENSATION
I never thought I would be a good enough singer to be a professional. I did what everyone said I should do — what I was supposed to do: go to school, do well, get a job.
But I wasn’t happy…
I’ve done just about everything I had an interest in—police officer, child safety case manager, salesman, barista—but I wasn’t really happy until I did the things I was passionate about.
You see, in high school I was pretty skinny. Because my peers grew around me, I was always the brunt of jokes, which didn’t do much for my confidence. So I grew up afraid of the attention—attention equals pain—and I never pursued my passions. In fact, not many people knew about my singing abilities. It was something I’d been doing since I was about 10. But because I was so scared of being made fun of, I wasn’t willing to put myself out there. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I decided to give this a try.
This is the Corner Bar & Grill, a karaoke bar in Largo, FL. I learned about a contest they were having and decided to enter. It was a smokey bar, but there was a lot of talent that came through. I won 3rd place out of about 50+ contestants. Every night people would begin to anticipate my songs, asking me what to sing (in some cases telling me what they wanted to hear). That’s when I realized I had something. I began to sing locally with some amazing bands. Then, I got the offer of a lifetime.
A guy sent me a message from one of the musician social media sites I’d joined. His name was Al Owen. He’d seen my profile, and after listening to a video I’d sent him (one from the very karaoke contest I’d entered), wanted to meet me. So, out of chance and hope, I went.
The studio was beautiful, a state-of-the-art facility in Riverview next to one of the biggest homes I’d ever seen. I pulled up, and out of one of the doors came a big man with long hair and one a HUGE smile on his face. To be honest, he scared me a little. I offered my hand and he pulled me into a hug. Then he enthusiastically walked me into the studio to show me what they were planning.
He and his friends Peter Gatti and Mark Blinkhorn were putting together a show and looking for talent to cast. The goal was to tour the country with a tribute band rolling through the decades. The band would be properly called Decades Rewind.
When Al finished showing me the concept, I couldn’t believe it. Moreso, I couldn’t believe they wanted me! A no-name singer in Largo who hadn’t done much more than a karaoke contest to be a lead in a show. I accepted the offer before I even spoke to my wife about it. I was going on tour with a REAL band!
The experience was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. We were in the studio 3 times a week, sometimes through the night on Saturdays. But the payoffs were amazing! We were even on the news!
It was the real deal, with tour buses, multiple stops in multiple states in a week, and we had SO much fun doing it! I felt like I’d made it!
Then, during one of the shows, I would receive one of the biggest comments that would ever impact my music career. A little girl came up to me during a show. I was wearing my Michael Jackson getup (during the show I would sing and dance like him) and she gave me a hug. Couldn’t have been more than 7 years old. And she said, “I really love your music!”
I was appalled. I had an EP out at that point, but there’s no way she would have known that unless she’d heard it from somewhere. Then I realized she wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to Michael Jackson.
And that’s when I knew. That’s when I realized my true reason for being a musician. I had to get my own music out. I had to create my own effect, move my own audience.
So now, I’m here.
My name is JK Theta (Θ).
This is my music.