5 Kid Musicians Who Made Careers in the Biz


Kids love watching other kids doing amazing things. It seems to inspire them, knowing that a child can reach a level of excellence far beyond that of some adults. The Web sees no shortage of proud parents posting videos of their kids doing what they think are amazing things, but honestly, most of these kids are of average talent, and an even greater number of them will fade into lives of suburban ennui by the time they are able to say, “How much is left in my 401K?”

But there are a few shining video examples of massively talented children on the Web, some of whom have made careers in their field as adults, others of whom are still kids, showing great promise for a future of making incredible art.

1. Jacob Armen

He was 8 years old when he appeared on The Tonight Show in 1989. And he played Coltrane’s most difficult chart, Giant Steps, which is a challenge for musicians three decades his senior. But he plays the hell out of it, with an injured hand no less. Jacob has grown into a master drummer, as evinced by this Etude. You know you are a master when you start calling your pieces “etudes.”

2. Derek Trucks

As nephew of Allman Brother Butch Trucks, young Derek had a bit of a head start. But regardless of how many famous people you know, if you ain’t got the chops, you ain’t goin’ nowhere. Derek was touring at an early age, and by the time he was 13 (the age he is in the above video), he had already sat in with blues legend Buddy Guy. He has since gone on to a quietly humble career playing with everyone from the Allmans and Govt. Mule to Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. He also enjoys a lucrative solo career and has a successful band with his wife, guitarist Susan Tedeschi.

3. Tony Royster Jr.

He was 12 when he appeared at Modern Drummer magazine’s annual drum festival. The child exhibits command of the instrument beyond belief, with chops, groove and taste — something most adult musicians sorely lack. Royster Jr. went on to perform on the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards show (at the age 15), has toured with Lazyeye, New Flava and En Vogue, and has appeared on Letterman and Leno. Here he is trading licks with former Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen:

4. & 5. Malcolm Brickhouse & Jarad Dawkins

These two 12-year-old metalheads are following in the footsteps of their forefathers Bad Brains, bucking the expectations of their peers by playing a form of music that seems foreign to kids prone to cookie-cutter pop and hip-hop. Though they functioned as a duo for some time, forming the band Tears of Blood when they were 5, the Flatbush, Brooklyn, buddies have added Alec Atkins to the mix, and the doom trio is now called Unlocking the Truth. If they don’t make it in the biz, it won’t because they didn’t pour their hearts into it, and it won’t be because they weren’t knocked for trying. It will simply mean the corporate establishment responsible for making or breaking artists didn’t have enough brains to see, well, the Truth.

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