Teenager Aidan James already knows what he wants to do for the rest of his life: be a singer/songwriter.
The Hawaii native, 14, got a very early start on his music career when he heard the song “Hey, Soul Sister” by the band Train. He was instantly inspired.
A video of Aidan playing a small ukulele while he covered the Train song was uploaded to YouTube and received nearly 20 million views. He was just 8 years old at the time, and the video’s popularity immediately thrust him into the spotlight.
“Everything changed,” Aidan said in an interview with ABC News, adding that after the video went viral, he got calls from several talk shows to appear. He opened for several established singers, and Train’s front man Pat Monahan invited him to perform onstage alongside him. Aidan has since toured with the band, calling the experience “really cool.”
Aidan is also an actor. Among his on-screen appearances was a part in the hit show “Hawaii Five-0,” but the teen sees himself primarily as a singer/songwriter.
Over the course of his career he has looked up to several artists, including Train and Ed Sheeran, but he names "All Time Low" singer Jon Bellion as his biggest musical influence.
“The kind of pop that he does is unique and that’s what I want to do. I want to do (a) unique kind of pop that no one has really heard before,” he said, noting that his style had evolved over the years.
The first song Aidan ever wrote was “One of the Ones,” a sweet, soft pop track that prominently features the ukulele. “Echoes,” his first full-length album, debuted in December and features 11 tracks covering a range of musical styles including mainstream, rock, folk and electronic dance music.
Aidan said he co-wrote and co-produced nine of the songs on the album.
“I also funded it all by myself,” he said, adding that the money came from earnings from his performances at private events, corporate shows, festivals and concerts around the world.
Although his music crosses all genres, the ukulele is key to his musical identity.
“I feel it’s very unique and not very many people are using it in the way that I use (it),” he said. “That’s my main instrument. I just want to show the world that you can do anything with the ukulele.”
Aidan’s peers in Hawaii have recognized his achievement by nominating his work for several Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, the prestigious accolade presented by the Hawaii Academy of Recordings Arts.
A rising star in Hawaii, Aidan said he enjoys meeting fans and participating in Make ‘Em Smile, a program that takes local musicians to into hospitals to perform for patients.
“A couple of times I’ve gotten, ‘You’re Aidan James. What are you doing here?’” he said, speaking of the reactions from his audience in the hospitals. “It’s really cool to be able to make them happy.”
Aidan and his family recently moved to Los Angeles so he could be closer to the music scene. A ninth-grader, Aidan takes classes online to make it easier to pursue his musical dreams, and when he’s not touring or working on music he likes to hang out with friends and create short films.
He also connects directly with fans online.
“I think I’m on my social media too much. I’m always on it,” he said. “I always, you know, when people like message me and stuff I always like to talk back. And since I’m online-schooled I don’t really have too many friends in real life. It’s cool to be able to talk to and interact with my fans.”
“Good Morning America” is featuring the work of Hawaiian artists as part of our 2016 Summer Concert Series sponsored by King’s Hawaiian.