Teen Star Dylan Jenét: On Singing, Stevie Wonder, and Giving Back
In many ways, Dylan Jenét is a typical 16-year-old girl. She likes to go shopping at the mall and trick-or-treating with friends. "I am just the average girl who likes to sing," she says. But unlike Jenét, the "average" teenager doesn’t share a record label with Stevie Wonder, who also happens to be the executive producer of her first album, expected to be released later this year through Universal Republic.
The Mountaukett Native, known as "DJ" for short, is incredibly accomplished for someone so young. She started singing national anthems at the age of 4, and sang as a soloist for President Obama at the Democratic National Convention, as well as at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. She was the No. 1 artist selected out of more than 11,000 candidates to be featured by the Daily Unsigned, a leading website recognizing the best unsigned talent in the world.
At 13, Jenét won "Best Pop Recording Artist of the Year" at the 13th Annual Native American Music Awards -- the youngest NAMA winner ever. And when she was 9 years old, she landed the role of Young Nala in Disney’s Broadway Production of "The Lion King."
The former Miss New York State Junior Pre-Teen Queen (oh, yeah, there’s that, too) has also been recognized for her philanthropic work with the Urban League and NAACP.
Although she grew up in the Hamptons, on New York's Long Island, Jenét now lives in Northridge, California, with her mom, dad, two brothers and sister. She actually found a few moments in her whirlwind schedule to talk to ICTMN about her incredible good fortune.
How did you get discovered?
I have a Facebook page, like all teenagers do. And Kimberly Brewer, who is a good friend of Stevie Wonder, was looking for undiscovered talent and she found me through social networking. She did a song with me and showed it to Stevie, and after he heard it, he wanted to sign me.
What’s it like to work with Stevie Wonder?
Oh, it’s amazing. He’s really, really funny. And super, super nice.
When did you first know that you could sing?
My parents said that when I was 3 years old, I would sing along with the commercial jingles perfectly on key, and my dad said, “Oh, she can sing!” I don’t really recall any of this. The earliest memory I have was trying to eat Play-Doh.
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