- Some of our most beloved musicians have been famous since they were teens.
- Usher, now 41, has been releasing music since he was 15 years old.
- JoJo earned a No. 1 song when she was only 14, the youngest musician to ever do so.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Child stars, whether they’re actors or singers, do not usually have an easy time navigating through adulthood, and some of these child musicians are a testament to that.
From Justin Bieber’s rough late teens/early 20s to JoJo’s years-long battle with her label to release music, it hasn’t always been fun for these 10 former child stars.
Keep scrolling to see what these former child star musicians are up to today, from Justin Bieber to Janet Jackson.
Jackie Evancho was 10 years old when she became the runner-up on the fifth season of “America’s Got Talent.”
Evancho competed in the 2010 season of “America’s Got Talent.” She eventually made it all the way to the finals, and she placed in second behind fellow musician Michael Grimm.
Her first release after the show was a Christmas EP, “O Holy Night,” which debuted at No. 2. She became the youngest solo artist ever to debut in the top 10.
Evancho released a full-length album in 2011, “Dream With Me,”which also debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart.
Most recently, Evancho competed on the third season of “The Masked Singer.”
The 20-year-old singer has released eight albums over the course of her career, including two more Christmas albums. Most of her releases have been covers of operas, songs from musicals, and songs from films.
Evancho caused a stir when she performed at Trump’s inauguration in 2016, a decision that she called “not political” at the time. However, in 2019, when asked about the decision by Broadway World, she said she learned a lesson – “And that lesson for me was mainly if you have a bad gut feeling, and your team still pushes you to do something, don’t give in, don’t do it! That’s what I’ve learned.”
In 2020, Evancho competed on the third season of “The Masked Singer” as the Kitty. She placed fifth.
Aaron Carter started out as the baby brother of Backstreet Boys star Nick Carter, but he quickly gained fans of his own.
Carter released his self-titled debut album in 1997 at age 9. He recorded his second album, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” three years later, at 12. During this time, he also began touring with his big brother’s band, the Backstreet Boys.
He released two more albums, 2001’s “Oh Aaron” and 2002’s “Another Earthquake!” Both reached the top 20.
In 2006, he and his family starred in the E! reality series “House of Carters,” which focused on the siblings trying to restart their musical careers.
Carter has been through a few rough patches over the years.
Carter released his first album in 16 years, “LØVË,” in 2016. However, his musical endeavours have been overshadowed by his myriad legal and medical controversies.
He has entered rehab multiple times, and at one point weighed just 115 pounds. The 32-year-old also has a strained relationship with his family – he accused his late sister of sexual abuse, and Nick of unspecified abuse as well. In a tweet, Nick said he obtained a restraining order against Aaron after he said he’d fantasized about stabbing Nick’s pregnant wife. Aaron denied he’d said that.
Carter also created an OnlyFans account in March 2020.
JoJo was 13 when she had her first No. 1 on the Mainstream Top 40, the youngest solo artist to have a No. 1 single in America.
JoJo’s 2004 self-titled debut and her 2006 follow-up “The High Road” contain iconic 2000s jams like “Leave (Get Out)” and “Too Little Too Late” – and she was just a teenager when she recorded them. Both albums were huge successes, and “Leave” ended up earning her the title of “the youngest female solo artist to have a number-one single in the United States.”
She also dabbled in acting, and starred in movies like “RV” and “Aquamarine.”
After years of disagreeing with her label, JoJo is making a comeback.
After “The High Road,” JoJo was unable to release a full-length album due to label disputes. She independently released two EPs, “Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Agápē,” in 2010 and 2012, respectively. JoJo released her third album, “Mad Love,” in 2016, and subsequently left her label again.
The 29-year-old re-recorded her first two albums in 2018, which are the versions available to stream today, after getting out of her old contract. In May 2020, she released her fourth album, “Good to Know,” to critical acclaim.
Justin Bieber started out as a street performer and quickly shot to stardom after being discovered on YouTube.
Bieber began uploading videos of himself performing under the YouTube username “kidrauhl” – most famously, a cover of the Chris Brown song “With You.” He was 13 years old when he was discovered by Scooter Braun and mentored by Usher.
Bieber released his debut single, “One Time,” in 2009. It quickly started a phenomenon called “Bieber Fever,” and he skyrocketed to one of the most famous teenagers (and people) in the world.
His first album, “My World 2.0,” debuted at the top of the charts, making him the youngest solo male act to top the chart since Stevie Wonder in 1963. He was 16.
Bieber remains one of the most famous people alive. He released his fifth album in 2020.
As many child stars do, Bieber went through an extremely public rough patch – he was arrested for a DUI, regularly appeared in tabloids for various scandalous activities (insulting Bill Clinton, getting papped without any clothes on, his up and down relationship with Selena Gomez, etc.), and struggled with substance abuse.
His first rebound began with 2015’s “Purpose,” which became a smash hit – though he cancelled the tour due to exhaustion. In 2017, he appeared on a remix of the Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi song “Despacito.” It eventually topped the charts, and became the first mostly Spanish-language Hot 100 No. 1 since the “Macarena” in 1996.
The 26-year-old released his first album in five years, “Changes,” in 2020. Many of the songs focus on his new wife, Hailey Bieber. He collaborated with Ariana Grande to release “Stuck with U” during the coronavirus pandemic. It became his sixth No. 1 hit.
Usher released his debut album in 1994 at the age of 15.
Usher’s self-titled debut album peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard 200. It attracted some controversy, as he was a teenager singing about mature topics. However, his reputation only grew, and by 1997, he had earned his first platinum single, “You Make Me Wanna…,” and his first No. 1 song, “Nice & Slow.”
Also as a teen, he appeared on a few soundtracks for movies like “Poetic Justice” and “Kazaam.”
In 1997, he made his acting debut in an episode of “Moesha” alongside fellow child star Brandy, and appeared in movies “The Faculty” and “She’s All That.”
Usher is now known to be one of the founding fathers of modern R&B.
Usher’s 2004 album, “Confessions,” solidified his legacy as one of the top-selling artists of the 2000s. It was the best-selling album of the year, as well. The singer was just 26 at the time – he’d come a long way in 10 years. He released five singles from the album, and all but “Caught Up” (the fifth) hit the top of the Hot 100.
In 2010, with the song “OMG,” Usher became the first 2010s artist to earn a No. 1 song in three consecutive decades – and only the fourth artist ever to do it.
In total, Usher, 41, has released eight albums, most recently 2016’s “Hard II Love.” It debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and was originally only streamable on Tidal, which he co-owns.
Donny Osmond was one of the biggest teen idols of the ’70s.
The 14-year-old released his first two albums in 1971: “The Donny Osmond Album” and “To You with Love, Donny.” Both were certified gold and reached 12 and 13, respectively, on the Billboard 200. He released two more albums in 1972, “Portrait of Donny” and “Too Young,” which peaked at six and and 11.
“Had I not hit it so big as a teen idol, and I would have just established myself as a theatre actor or a musical entertainer, it would have been a lot different. But I probably wouldn’t have the audience I have today,” he told The Washington Post in 2014.
Osmond performed on “The Masked Singer,” and he is perhaps best known for voicing Shang in “Mulan.”
Osmond, now 62, had trouble trying to escape his teenybopper status, but he eventually found success as a pop singer. He earned a No. 2 song in 1989, “Soldier of Love.”
In the ’90s, Osmond starred in the Broadway musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” as Joseph and also appeared in the film version. For kids, he’s probably best known as the singing voice for Li Shang in the Disney classic “Mulan.”
He and his sister Marie wrapped up their 11-year stint in Las Vegas in November 2019. It had originally started out as a six-week limited engagement, but proved so popular that it continued for over a decade.
Janet Jackson began as the youngest member of the Jackson family.
Janet is the youngest member of the Jackson family, and she began appearing on their variety show, “The Jacksons,” in 1976 at the age of 10. She also appeared in multiple ’70s and ’80s sitcoms, including “Good Times,” “A New Kind of Family,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” and “Fame.”
Jackson released her first two albums, “Janet Jackson” and “Dream Street,” in 1982 and 1984, respectively. Both could be considered “bubblegum pop,” and neither made much of an impact.
Her breakthrough came in 1986, “Control,” which was decidedly contemporary R&B. It hit No. 1 and was eventually certified five-times platinum. She was just 19 at the time.
By 1989, she was one of the biggest pop stars in the world. She released “Rhythm Nation,” which is still seen as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.
Jackson has solidified her legacy as one of the most talented and beloved pop stars ever.
The 54-year-old has won numerous Grammys, Billboard Music Awards, VMAs – any type of music award, really. She was awarded the MTV Video Vanguard in 1990 at age 24, still the youngest person to ever win.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 after 11 studio albums, most recently 2015’s “Unbreakable.”
It’s impossible to discuss Jackson, however, without talking about the infamous 2004 Super Bowl performance which many credit for derailing her career. During the show, Justin Timberlake pulled off a panel of her costume, and accidentally exposed her right breast to the 140 million viewers. At the time, Jackson apologised, and the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” was coined, but then-CBS executive Les Moonves believed the incident had been intentional, according to reports.
“Moonves ordered Viacom properties VH1 and MTV, and all Viacom-owned radio stations, to stop playing Jackson’s songs and music videos,” Huff Post reported in 2018. “The move had a huge impact on sales of her album ‘Damita Jo,’ which was released in March 2004, just a month after the Super Bowl.”
Brandy released her debut album in 1994 at the age of 15.
She released her second album, “Never Say Never,” in 1998. Two singles, “The Boy Is Mine” and “Have You Ever?” both topped the Hot 100. “The Boy Is Mine,” with Monica, remains one of the best-selling female duets of all time, and earned the duo a Grammy.
Brandy split her time between music and acting – during this time, she also starred in the UPN sitcom “Moesha,” playing the titular character for all six seasons.
Brandy released her seventh album in July.
After “Moesha” ended in 2001, Brandy returned to music. She’s released four albums since then: “Full Moon” in 2002, “Afrodisiac” in 2004, “Human” in 2008, and “Two Eleven” in 2012. Her seventh album, “B7,” was released this summer – NME said it was “worth the wait.”
The 41-year-old has also moved into reality television. She’s been a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” and starred alongside her brother Ray J on the VH1 series “Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business.”
Lil’ Bow Wow released his first album at 13 in 2000.
The then-13-year-old released “Beware of Dog” in 2000, and it peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200. The next year, he released his follow-up, “Doggy Bag,” which would peak at No. 11.
In 2002, he made his feature film debut in “Like Mike,” which famously spawned the song “Basketball,” which plays inside the mind of any ’90s and 2000s kids that pick up a basketball.
In 2002, at 15, he dropped the “Lil'” and released his third album, “Unleashed,” as Bow Wow.
Bow Wow, or Shad Moss, has retired from rapping.
In 2006, Bow Wow appeared in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and he’s continued to act. He’s set to reprise the role in the upcoming “F9.”
He also had a starring role in “CSI: Cyber,” though he was credited under his real name, Shad Moss. The 33-year-old is now appearing on “Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta” on We TV.
In 2016, he announced he was planning on retiring from rapping after 16 years and seven albums. His farewell album has yet to be released.
Most recently, Bow Wow finished in third place on the third season of “The Masked Singer.” He was the Frog.
LeAnn Rimes is still the youngest artist to win a Grammy — she was 14 when she won Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Rimes shot on to the country music scene as a 13 year old with her cover of “Blue” and the album of the same name. Rimes won the 1996 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her version and Best New Artist. At 14, she is the youngest solo Grammy winner ever.
She’d release three more albums in the ’90s, all of which are certified platinum.
Rimes released her 13th album in 2016.
Rimes continued to release music and has released 13 studio albums, though none have matched the success of her earlier material.
In more recent years, Rimes, 38, is mainly famous for a tabloid scandal in the late 2000s/early 2010s. She and actor Eddie Cibrian co-starred in a TV movie together, “Northern Exposure,” and subsequently got together. The only problem? Both Cibrian and Rimes were married to other people at the time – Cibiran was married to future “Real Housewives” star Brandi Glanville, Rimes to backup dancer Dean Sheremet. The two divorced their partners and tied the knot in 2012.
- Read more:
- THEN AND NOW: 25 child actors all grown up
- The dreamiest teen idol from the year you were born
- 13 child stars who quit Hollywood for good
- WHERE ARE THEY NOW: 13 child stars of the 1970s
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