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Who is Daniel Caesar? The 22-year-old rebel turned Grammy nominated singer

I first heard Daniel Caesar playing over the pitter patter of a café I was sitting in.

As I sat writing, I realized I was being serenaded by a fine, male baritone coming from the speakers to my right.

The lyrics to “Get You” were soft, seductive, and inviting. With my laptop open in front of me, I immediately looked them up.

After a quick, (and borderline stalker) research session, I realized he wasn’t new to music at all, but I was super late to the party.

The 22-year-old Toronto native, born Ashton Simmonds, has been releasing hits for a while now.

In 2015, he put out 2 independent and acclaimed EPs, Praise Break and Pilgrim’s Paradise. By 2017, Caesar’s first debut studio album, Freudian, was released. Fast forward to 2018 and Daniel’s been nominated for two Grammy awards.

Freudian has been extremely well received by critics and audiences alike.

Caesar switches from soulful melodies to R&B bangers, and he’s been able to attract an audience as unique as his sound.

“Get You,” ft. Kali Uchis has nearly 70 million plays on Spotify, the second highest being “Best Part” ft. H.E.R.

When interviewed by ForbesDaniel credits his rapid success to the honesty behind his music. For most of his life, the singer-songwriter lived in a conservative religious town, attending a private Christian high school.

The son of a gospel singer, Daniel flourished shortly after a rebellious phase of couch surfing and sleeping on park benches. After his hardened decision to pursue his dreams, he focused on bringing them to reality. He’s remained dedicated to his music since then, and the payoff has been huge.

“Honestly man, it’s just the music… I think it comes down to honesty. [My music] is more of an artistic thing as opposed to a business thing. I think the art form [of music] today is in an interesting space. A lot of artists are aspiring to fill an archetype as opposed to being themselves. Even if they can’t quite put their finger on it, fans can tell.”

Daniel draws from his own experiences in his music. Living in a “Seventh Day Adventist” community, he is able to recall snippets of gospel and implement them through vibrant soul.

Although his music is drawn from ecclesiastical experiences, there’s plenty of room for his artistry to shine through, as he imposes his own strands of instrumentals into his songs, effectively branding them his own.

Pitchfork digests the melodies of “Hold Me Now” and “We Fall Down”, how much they remind the listener of Christian doctrines.

“These instances are more than merely Easter eggs for gospel music fans; they’re also emblematic of the synergistic relationship between gospel and R&B, which Caesar embraces throughout his debut LP.”

A recurring theme in Caesar’s album would be the trials, tribulations and the allure of love.

Send me kisses when it’s grey skies
It’s been so long look how time flies
If you love me won’t you let me know
I’ve been trying to learn let you go

According to Billboard, after co-signing with Apple music, the Freudian creator decided only to use Tunecore as a means of distributing his music through social media platforms.

🎹📸: @keavanx

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Aside from his management team, Caesar remains, above all, an independent artist.

“We’ve already brought [my career] this far with absolutely nothing, we made this project in [manager and producer Jordan Evans’] living room. So it’s like, ‘Let’s keep rocking with this and see what happens.'”

This year, Daniel’s tour extends worldwide, well beyond the confines of his hometown of Toronto.

His creativity has been well established and by doing exactly what he set to accomplish when he left home, in just a few short years, he’s made it.