Niagara teen star Lalama is ‘for real’
There’s homework. There’s recording studios. And then there are music videos that get millions of views on YouTube.
And in-between, St. Catharines teen Christian Lalama still tries to hang out with some friends. Which isn’t easy when people are stopping him in the mall asking if he’s ‘that’ singer.
“I make it seem like I’m just a normal kid as well,” says the 15-year-old rising pop star. “It’s hard to explain, but I keep the two separate.”
But Lalama’s 2018 was anything but normal. In addition to school there were U.S. concerts, international media, and a YouTube channel closing in on 300,000 subscribers. His video for the R&B-heavy “Tic Toc” soared past a million views, teeing up last week’s release of the funky follow-up “FRFR,” (For Real, For Real) his first song since winning the EMERGE young talent search. More than 7,000 artists from the U.S. and Canada submitted music, with Lalama among the singers earning a label deal with Atlantic Records.
For what could be a life-changing event, Lalama sounds easygoing about it over the phone. Like it’s just more homework.
“Honestly, it just comes naturally,” he says. “Since I’ve been doing it for a while, I’ve gotten used to being nervous. I kind of cope with it way better now.”
A Grade 10 student at a school his publicist once again asks not to be named because of safety concerns, Lalama comes from a family of musicians. His grandfather played sax, his uncle Mark leads The Mark Lalama Trio and has performed with several major artists, and his dad Paul plays with Niagara bands Jonesy and Up Yer Kilt.
Lalama has played piano since he was four, and was winning musical contests at 10. While his 2018 was mostly spent performing, he plans to devote more time to writing in 2019.
“We’re going to be doing a tonne of songs, a bunch of originals,” he says. “A lot of my songs lately have been R&B. That’s the style and the audience I’m going for.
“There’s so many songs I’ve recorded lately. I’ve taken so many trips to L.A., so yeah, there’s definitely going to be an album coming soon.”
St. Catharines singer Christian Lalama capped a breakthrough year with the release of 'FRFR' last week, his first with Atlantic Records.