Conor Maynard At The Fernbank Museum Of Natural History
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By Arjan Writes
When Conor Maynard first started posting cover songs on YouTube, not in his wildest dreams did he ever expect that his webcam sessions would lead to an international recording contract and studio time with some of the biggest names in music.
Hailing from the British seaside town of Brighton, England, Maynard began uploading covers of popular hits such as Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" and Ne-Yo's "Beautiful Monster," amassing more than 90 million views with the help of his passionate fan community, the Mayniacs. His videos caught the attention of GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter and producer Ne-Yo, who was impressed by Maynard's soulful vocal tone and reached out directly to the young singer to suggest a collaboration.
Ne-Yo's offer came to fruition when Maynard began recording his debut LP, Contrast, which is set to be released on Sept. 18. The album features collaborations with a cast of GRAMMY-winning and -nominated talent, including Pharrell Williams, Jermaine Dupri, Stargate, Sandy Vee, and Diane Warren. He also worked with fellow newcomers Frank Ocean and the Invisible Men, a rising production trio from London.
Maynard's music combines his distinct, soulful pop vocals with forward production stylings, which are amplified by his British wit, credible cool and gentleman manners that fuel his global pop appeal. Currently gearing up to release his new single, "Vegas Girl," on July 24, Maynard is jetting across the United States and Europe performing at showcases to introduce his music to pop fans. On July 19 Maynard made a stop in Atlanta at the iconic Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Just steps away from a gigantic, life-sized dinosaur skeleton, the singer's stage was set to fit a full band with a guitarist, keyboard player and drummer. "My name is Conor Maynard, and I've never performed in Jurassic Park before, but I'm excited to be here," he smiled, showing some of his British humor.
Maynard went right to business and kicked off the night with a flawless rendition of "Animal," the opening track from Contrast. The song is a futuristic urban club anthem paced by a slapping groove, spiky synth flourishes and sun-kissed vocal harmonies that sing about the power of falling in love.
One of the things that immediately stood out was how confident of a showman Maynard is. He interacted enthusiastically with the audience and moved around the stage with a charisma similar to that of a pop veteran.
Following "Animal," Maynard kept the energy up and performed "Can't Say No," his UK debut single that bowed at No. 2 on the British pop charts earlier this year.
Next, Maynard took a moment to pay tribute to one of his biggest inspirations with a seamless medley featuring Drake's "Crew Love" and "Marvins Room." "I'm such a big Drake fan and I hope you are too," he told the crowd. The song's slower pace gave Maynard the opportunity to show off his impressive, pitch-perfect vocals.
Maynard flawlessly segued into another intensely soulful tune, "Pictures," a song about passionately remembering love that was written by Ocean and produced by Midi Mafia. Lyrically, the song displays Maynard's mature side while spotlighting his finely tuned falsetto.
After thanking the Mayniacs in the audience, (some drove four hours to see the pop singer), Maynard concluded his set with a smoldering rendition of "Vegas Girl," a saucy, innovative hip-hop stomper that puts Maynard in position for global chart success.
It was the perfect conclusion to an accomplished showcase performance that proved Maynard is one of the best and brightest new talents to burst onto the pop scene this year. He gives pop fans everywhere a lot to be very excited about.
"Can't Say No"
"Crew Love"/"Marvin's Room" (Drake cover)
(Arjan Writes is the GRAMMY.com Pop Community Blogger. He is a pop music fanatic who scours the Earth for sweet and crunchy new pop. You can get loads of pop tips on at www.arjanwrites.com and www.facebook.com/arjanwrites.)