SA crooner Cruise inks big New York deal

CityPress - - News -

“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.” – Na­dia Neo­phy­tou

PHOTO: BRUCE K CANTRELL

Con­nell Cruise

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