If you follow the US R&B scene, it’s likely that you will have come across viral sensation Willie Spence and that infamous “Diamonds” cover. The video accumulated over 25 million views on YouTube, bringing his channel total to almost 50 million views, finding its way onto numerous platforms including Steve TV.
It’s no doubt that the singer is preceded by a wealth of accolades but roots of this tree extended far beyond a few clicks on the internet.
Beginning his journey at just four-years-old, within the walls of a West Palm Beach church where his grandfather served as a pastor, Willie became a member of several choirs; teaching himself to write and play the drums along the way. Riding the wave of his virality in 2017 Willie relocated to Los Angeles in order to kick off his career but later returned to Georgia to take care of his mother after she suffered a stroke.
With his mother on the path to recovery, the singer has shifted his focus to competing on season 19 of American Idol Season 19 which airs on Sunday, February 14, 2021.
In the meantime he stopped by to discuss his latest single “So Gone” and the rollercoaster of a journey he’s had so far.
When did you first realise that music was something you wanted to pursue beyond singing in a choir?
I’ve been singing since I was four years old, and I absolutely love it. Therefore, I would say that I realized that music was something that I wanted to pursue beyond the choir when I was a teenager. Actually, probably even younger than that. My mom sang to me when I was still in her womb, so I guess I was born singing. LOL
Considering how your musical journey began, was the gospel route ever a consideration for you?
Gospel was always a consideration, and even though I’m focused on my R&B career, I will always sing gospel songs. For example, on my upcoming EP, there is an inspirational song called “One Minute With God.”
You’re working, developing your craft, and then boom, the video goes viral. At the time it was being filmed do you remember what was going through your mind? Or even who was filming at the time?
Well, I was just singing because I loved the song and I was hoping that people noticed me once I uploaded the video to YouTube.
Overnight everything sort of changed. How did your family and friends handle things?
My family and friends are very supportive. They have seen me work hard over the years, which I’m still working hard to achieve. I feel like I’m on my way, but I still have to keep pushing.
Shortly after you made the decision to move to Atlanta. What was the biggest shock for you when you arrived?
A big shock of moving to Atlanta is that since it’s a big music scene, celebrities and influencers that showed me support on Instagram, I actually began interacting with them in person. I’m from West Palm Beach, Florida so there’s not a big music scene there like it is here in Atlanta.
Browsing through your YouTube channel I found loads of covers but your solo music on Spotify only dates back to 2020 – why so long before releasing your solo stuff?
I’ve always written my own songs but I did not have access to properly record until 2020. In Atlanta I’m able to record more since there are some quality, affordable studios to record.
Do you think having such a big moment at the start of your career creates an unspoken pressure to do bigger or be better than that moment?
I was happy to get noticed and have some recognition for singing, but I feel like I still have not had that “big” moment yet. I want to continue releasing music for my fans, then hopefully my original music will reach people all around the world. I feel that the unspoken pressure is not from other people, but from myself. I’ve always wanted to sing and become a big star, so I know that I have to keep pushing for bigger and better.
Well, we can’t wrap without talking about your latest single “So Gone”, which from my understanding is an ode to love?
Yes, I wrote “So Gone” about that feeling that you get when you’re so in love that you feel like you’re in the clouds in a whole other world. (laughs)
Finally, what can we expect from you release wise in 2021?
As of now I’m planning to release a single, then a 7 song EP.