Greyson Chance shocked the world on Thursday, September 22, when his comments in a revealing Rolling Stone interview were published. He called his previous mentor Ellen DeGeneres “manipulative,” among other things, raising questions about how much the The Ellen DeGeneres Show host had actually helped him or his musical career in the long run.
Greyson was born in Texas and raised as a Catholic, and was just 12 years old when he first performed on the widely syndicated talk show, and has parlayed that success into a movie called Maybelline Prince. Now 25 years old, he sees his “big break” much differently. Here are five things to know about the singer thrust into the spotlight during an appearance on Ellen.
1. He went viral with a Lady Gaga song
In 2010, Greyson opted to perform Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at an Oklahoma school music festival — and it went over big. A video of the monumentally talented youth performing at the piano went viral with upwards of 70 million views, and for good reason. Not only was the performance spectacular, but according to Rolling Stone, it was his first time presenting before a crowd. It would certainly prove not to be his last, launching him into a glaring spotlight and catching the attention of Ellen, who had invited him onto her show within a week.
2. He was dubbed the ‘next Justin Bieber’
An ABC report on March 10, 2011, echoed the sentiments of fans everywhere with the headline: Greyson Chance: The Next Justin Bieber? For many, the answer was obvious. Then 13 year old Chance’s boy band good looks, feathery hair, and soulful eyes were enough to prompt the question for months to come. “Move over, Justin Bieber,” the report read. “There’s a new teenage pop sensation on the rise.”
3. He lives in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is where it all began, and Oklahoma remains home for the talented singer. According to Rolling Stone, he stays with producer Brett McLaughlin at his Hollywood Hills place when he visits Los Angeles — but he owns a home in Oklahoma. It’s also where he reportedly returned to when Ellen’s music label, eleveneleven, dropped him after his second album with her, Truth Be Told, Part 1, failed to perform well.
A friend from his past said coming home to Oklahoma after his brush with megastardom wasn’t easy on him. “When he got back, it was different,” childhood pal Madeline Goedecke said, according to Rolling Stone. “You could tell that it had been hard on him coming back from all of that.”
4. He attended the University of Tulsa
Greyson reportedly semi retired from music when he turned 18, trying his hand at university life. He enrolled at the nearby University of Tulsa, opting for a major in history. He told RS that it was him figuratively giving the “middle finger to the industry.” He continued, “It was me going, ‘You could have had an amazing artist on your hands, but f*** this. I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m quitting.’“
5. He’s been nominated for several high profile awards
The musical powerhouse didn’t simply create an impressive catalogue of singles, music videos, and studio albums — he was also recognized for his accomplishments with formal honors. In 2010, he was nominated as the Choice Web Star at the Teen Choice Awards, and that same year was also nominated as the Icon of Tomorrow at the J-14 Teen Icon Awards. He won the Teen Pick: YouTube Artist Award at the Hollywood Teen TV Awards in 2010.
The accolades continued in 2011, most notably with a People’s Choice Award nomination for Favorite Viral Video Star. Between 2011 and 2013, the emerging talent had won several awards, including the Most Popular New International Artist of the Year at the 2012 MTV-CCTV Mandarin Music Awards.