He’s made music videos by himself before, which were pretty good for a pre-teen.
But it wasn’t until recently that 12-year-old Shon Burnett had the chance to make his first professional video.
That opportunity came when he cracked the Top 6 on the YTV show The Next Star. Now in its seventh season, the Canadian reality show aims to find the most talented singer 15 years old or younger.
“I really didn’t expect to make it. I’m really grateful about that,” says the aspiring Surrey pop star.
The show began last month with 12 young contestants trying to wow the judges, and by last week, the talent roster was pared by half.
Burnett, who likes to sing pop/rock tunes, has performed songs such as Cody Simpson’s Pretty Brown Eyes, Justin Bieber’s All That Matters and Story of My Life by One Direction.
The judges – Dan Kanter, Tara Oram and Mark Spicoluk – have been mostly complimentary after Burnett’s performances, encouraging him to let his own style shine through.
“They tell me to be myself,” Burnett says, “not to try to be the artist.“
His new video is for an original song called Be Your Holiday and as of Wednesday, had nearly 21,000 views on YouTube.
Burnett, who turns 13 next month, was born in Thailand and only moved to Canada with his family about a year ago. While he speaks Thai (his mom is from Thailand and dad is Canadian), Burnett clarifies that English has always been his first language and he’s attended English-speaking schools overseas.
His performing career began at age nine when he decided he wanted to be a busker and hit the Chatuchak Weekend Market – the largest outdoor market in the world. There, he was discovered by Thai rock star Rang Rockestra, who took Burnett under his wing, mentored him and eventually had him perform at his concerts.
In 2012, when Burnett was just 10, he entered the TVN KPOP Star Hunt 2, a singing contest in Thailand, making it to the Top 10 and earning him fans from around the globe. A year later, he was a Top 7 in another televised talent contesting Thailand, The Trainer 5. The prior TV experience, he says, has helped him on The Next Star.
Burnett, who will enter Grade 8 at Kwantlen Park Secondary this year, says all the finalists have become good friends and he’d be happy to see any one of them take the top spot in the competition.
“Everyone else, I’ve seen how much they’ve improved – everyone deserves to win.“
To view past performances by the contestants, including Burnett, check http://nextstar.ytv.com/#thenextstar
The Next Star airs Monday nights. The live finale, when the winner will be announced, will air Sept. 21 on YTV.