When Trevor Jackson says, “I want to be the Denzel of acting and the Michael Jackson of music,” you should pay attention. What might sound like a tall order for some is a small challenge for the 17-year-old who has already transformed into Young Simba in “The Lion King,” and wowed audiences in Disney’s no. 1 film, Let It Shine. Now the singer-dancer-actor from the King of Pop’s home state is turning his explosive talent toward music.
Following the release of September’s #NewThang EP on Atlantic Records, including the tracks “Like We Grown” and “Drop It,” Trevor is currently prepping his debut full-length album for release in 2014.
“Singing has always been a passion of mine and after Let It Shine, I didn’t want to waste any more time,” he says. “My fans were asking, ‘Where’s Trevor’s music?’ Atlantic really understood who I was as an artist and what I wanted to do, the rest is history.”
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Trevor is the youngest of two boys and began tap dancing at three years old. Along with dance, he played basketball and football, swam and skateboarded with energy to spare. Following his part in a local production, his mother drove her eight-year-old son two hours to the Chicago-based auditions for “The Lion King” and Trevor lit up once he took the stage.
“When they told me I got the part of Young Simba in The Lion King I danced on the table,” he recalls.
The star spent the next three years traveling America as a part of Disney’s Tony Award-winning musical, learning the ropes of show business in great company. But thanks to his longtime tap dance teacher, Karen Clayborn, he was well-prepared.
“He’s got the heart of a dancer and the soul of a performer, that’s what he was put on this earth to do,” Ms. Clayborn says fondly.
When The Lion King came to an end, an 11-year-old Trevor and his mother moved to Los Angeles so he could audition for film and television opportunities.
“I love to play any character that isn’t close to my personality,” Trevor shares. “In Harry’s Law, I played a 16-year-old doctor who learned his skills online and stitches up a guy who is shot in front him. There was blood everywhere, it was awesome. In Let Is Shine I played a ladies man who was too cool for school, but my family would say that I’m really energetic, hard-working and out-going.”
Let It Shine paired Trevor with actor Tyler James (of Everybody Hates Chris fame) and followed the teens as they learned to be true to themselves through music. The film was a rousing success and earned the no. 1 spot among tweens nationwide, solidifying Trevor as a bankable star.
“Through my work, I’ve learned that if I love it, whether it’s music, acting or any type of entertainment, I can overcome any of the obstacles that come my way,” he says. “There are so many people telling you no, but if you love what you do, no one can stop you.”
Looking to his idol Michael Jackson and his favorite song “Heartbreak Hotel” -- “Every time I hear it, I smile,” he says. -- Trevor was ready to make his own album. In 2012, he joined Atlantic Records and began working & recording with a wide range of producers and songwriters. Due to high demand from his fans, Trevor took these songs and crafted the #NewThang EP.
#NewThang EP was released in September and Trevor recently concluded a national high school tour with label mate Justine Skye. Now the 17-year-old, who admits that he’s now a little obsessed with golfing in his free time, is busy crafting soulful, pop songs for his debut album.
“All of the songs are a part of me,” he says. “Like, I love ‘Like We Grown’ for two reasons; when adults look at teenage relationships, they might not take them seriously. But I’m telling the girl ‘I’m going to take care of you and treat you right, like we’re grown-ups.’ On the other side, there are women who under estimate a young man and let age get in the way, but the song says ‘Everything that you want, I have, regardless of my age, so why not?’ “
Collaborating with acclaimed producers like Eric Hudson, J.R. Rotem and The Underdogs, Trevor’s #NewThang EP gave his fans a peek into his brand of edgy young love, but the Midwest native is going full blast on his debut record.
“All of the people I’ve worked with have really helped me tap into the music I wanted to make, it’s not about genre or making an R&B record anymore,” he says. “It’s about making an all-around good record that everyone can listen to.”