SA crooner Connell Cruise inks big New York deal

2014-08-17 15:01

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“This is where the future is going to lift off from,” Connell Cruise says, looking at the New York Stock Exchange from the window of the apartment he’s staying in.

“It’s a dream so big, I couldn’t have possibly dreamed anything close to it.”

On Friday, the 27-year-old South African singer revealed a secret he’s kept under wraps for the past few weeks: he’s been signed to Epic Records, a division of Sony Music that’s home to the likes of Sade, Outkast and Avril Lavigne.

“It’s unreal how huge it is,” he says.

Cruise, who’s been playing the piano since he was four, released his debut album last year. It spawned hits like Not Just Friends and 99%.

Producer extraordinaire LA Reid, who is responsible for signing artists like Usher and Pink! during the course of his career, inked the deal with David Gresham and Andrew Mitchley of local label David Gresham Records.

Mitchley has been back and forth to New York with Cruise, meeting with labels who were interested in him after the success of his most recent single, Into the Wild.

The track, which reached the top of the South African iTunes chart in April, caught the ear of Epic Records A&R representative Matt Maschi, who took it to Reid.

“Beyond the numbers, I thought it was a good song,” says Maschi. “It has a positive message – it’s loud, big and has an element of sound that doesn’t come from here in America. It has this world sound that comes from South Africa.”

Cruise joins fellow South Africans Kongos, who rocketed to success in the US thanks to their song Come With Me Now. The track was certified platinum this week, selling more than a million copies in the US, and double platinum in Canada.

Maschi says there are big plans for Cruise, who’ll stay in the US to finish his second album.

But Cruise says those plans will include regular trips back to South Africa to perform for his fans. “They’re the reason I’m here,” he says. “I could never leave them behind.”

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