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At 12 years old, Keedron Bryant didn’t ask to be the voice of a revolution. After all, he’s just “a young Black man doing all that I can.” But that voice is too good not to be noticed. In fact, the young Floridian—who first stole America’s heart on the talent show Little Big Shots—has already landed a record deal, soon after going viral with his soulful rendition of “I Just Wanna Live,” an original song written by his mother Johnnetta Bryant in response to the killing of George Floyd.
The song was been viewed over 3 million times on his Instagram, receiving praise from people including Will Smith, who incorporated the clip in his “No Justice, No Peace” montage, President Barack Obama, Janet Jackson, and gospel singer Kirk Franklin, who surprised Bryant and his mom during a segment on Access Hollywood, saying, “To see young men like Keedron being able to have such a sound of hope… We needed you. You’re right on time.”
Bryant has now released “I Just Wanna Live” as his first single with Warner Music. He will perform the song on ABC’s special Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming and on the NAACP’s online special Juneteenth Black Family Reunion: The Music, The Moments, The Movement. Warner Records, Bryant’s new label, will be donating all of the net profits to the NAACP, and Amazon Music will give $1 for every stream of the song. A couple of days before the single’s release, Bryant talked to us about his talent for video games, what his friends are saying, and the message he hopes people take from “I Just Wanna Live.”
On working in the church: My mom and my dad are ministers, so I grew up singing choir and I’m currently still leading worship.
On realizing singing was his path: I started singing at the age of 5. When I was 7 years old, that’s when I knew that I really wanted to sing, and that it was going to be my career when I got older. I’ve been singing for a long time now.
On the lyrics for “I Just Wanna Live”: My mom wrote it by herself. Those words are from heaven. God gave her those words. That’s when she called us down and she gave me the lyrics to it.
On the message behind the song: It’s sad, because, you know, like the song says, “I just want to live.” We can’t go out into the world. Black people can’t go out in the world and live life, and enjoy life like everyone else can without being afraid of dying or something bad happening. So we just basically get the message out there to have hope in the world. That Black people can live on the earth as everybody else can. Also, that we can all make an impact together.
On the support he’s received: I’m really thankful for all the support that all my colleagues been giving me, and I thank god, too. It’s just been an exciting experience to see, and I’m just ready for all that’s going to start coming on and more opportunities. I’m just so happy.
On inspiring people with his music: I want to reach people in different ways. I don’t just want to reach people in Gospel Music, or just on the church side. I want to reach the other side that may not even go to church or know Jesus. I want to reach them, too. It’s mainly inspirational music to give hope and change the world.
On his song being released on Juneteenth: I’m just so excited for it to come out, and it’s on a perfect day for it to come out. It’s just so great.
On hidden talents: I would say that I’m good at my video games. I normally play Fortnite and Call of Duty: World War 2.
On his favorite food: A baked potato with cheese, sour cream, and bacon bits.
On what he wants to be when he grows up: I’ll say act, because I wanted to be a singer all at the same time. The main one is I want to be a singer. My side job would be an actor.
On what his friends are saying: They’re surprised, and they’re like, “Oh my god. I didn’t even know that about you.” They were surprised.