How did a boy from a small town in Manitoba become a triple threat on the verge of stardom?
For twenty-four year old, Tyrell Witherspoon the answer is hard work, a good support system and surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and are doing the same things as you.
Tyrell has been performing all his life, in fact he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t performing. Growing up, Tyrell performed in church choir and a touring violin group “The Fantasy Fiddlers”, giving him early tastes of public performing. He comes from a family of performers, his father was a musician and performer while mother was a renowned piano teacher. Obviously performing parents were supportive of his foray into the entertainment business but Tyrell credits his construction contractor brother as being one of his biggest cheerleaders, helping keep him focused on pursuing his dream.
Out of high school, he set about studying, developing and sharing his craft, first in Brandon then Winnipeg, Manitoba. Inspired by local dance studio owners and mentors who set their minds to following and building their dream, Tyrell developed a driven work ethic in pursuit of his own dreams. The drive paid off with work in theatre and choreography around Winnipeg and onboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships and appearances on CBC’s Triple Sensation and CTV’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada.
After a few years, Tyrell was ready for the next chapter in his career, with the encouragement of a strong support system in Winnipeg, he made a move west to Vancouver. In Vancouver, he has worked hard to make a name for himself, attending auditions while continuing to study and grow his skills and reputation. This paid off when he landed a recurring dance roll on the CW show, Hellcats. From there he’s been able to make more contacts and expand his dance resume, appearing onstage and in music videos for artists like Elise Estrada and These Kids Wear Crowns.
These contacts lead to yet another page in the story, he’s been writing music for years and got to present it to some industry heavyweights who gave him the advice and encouragement to move from “Tyrell the Dancer” to “Tyrell the Artist”. The first step was the March release of his debut single “Letting Go” on iTunes with a video and second single following in May. A five track EP is nearly complete and will drop in late June with four self-penned songs and one cover. With varying styles and genres the EP tell the story of his life over the last five years, personal experiences and feelings that have made him the man he is today
In this age of YouTube and viral internet sensations, when asked what will set him apart from the ‘Rebecca Blacks’ of the day, Witherspoon says his music is “real songs about real things” and adds “I want to make sure that my music is about me and my story”. In conversation with him, one gets the feeling that this is not just a mantra about his career but how he lives his life. A well-rounded, observant individual with a depth of knowledge and skills is what will set him apart from the field of one hit web wonders. A good example of his work ethic and determination to make the music as good as possible shows in his answer to “Who would be your dream collaboration?” instead of answering Lady Gaga or some other mega-artist of the moment, who would definitely sell records, Tyrell looks to furthering ‘his’ sound and would like to work with Grammy-winning production team Stargate. Attention to all aspects of his product, whether his singing, acting or dancing, will serve him well to ensure career longevity.
Up next for Tyrell, in his quest to move from backup dancer to centre stage, will be performances around Vancouver throughout the summer and coming soon in front of his largest audience as a singer at Winnipeg Pride, opening for the legendary Martha Wash. If you don’t want to wait to listen to the Tyrell sound live, download the single Letting Go now from iTunes and watch for the EP to drop soon. To find more on when he’ll be performing near you, follow him on Twitter or tyrellwitherspoon.com
Originally published in Kenton Magazine reprinted with permission
Photo Credits: Patty Boge (Off The Page Photography) and Matthew Kristjan