Johnny Manuel is a soulful pop singer whose gorgeous voice has gone viral, so we caught up with him to find out more about the man with the wildly impressive set of pipes.  

Manuel’s musical resume is already something many people could only dream about. Starting out as one of legendary music producer Jermaine Dupri’s proteges, he has been touring the world and releasing material since the tender age of 14.

On top of that, his 2017 audition for America’s Got Talent has racked up a whopping 18 million views (just casually), and he’s also competed for Bulgaria in Eurovision.

After moving down under for love, he was a finalist on last year’s edition of The Voice Australia. If you haven’t already seen his audition which blew the Aussie judges away, we recommend you do yourself a favour and check it out.

As hard it is to believe, Manuel is still only just getting started, and his sultry latest single ‘Lost In The Music’ is proof of that.

To celebrate the recent release of ‘Lost In the Music’, we had a chat with Johnny Manuel as part of our popular Get To Know series.

How did your artist name come about?

Johnny Manuel is my real name. When I was younger though I went by the artist name “Lil’ Johnny”, which happened organically because my Dad’s name is also Johnny and depending on whose attention she was trying to get my Mom would yell “Big” or “Lil” haha.

Love Pop?

Get the latest Pop news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more

How would you describe your music to your grandma?

My grandma is a black, Christian woman from the south so she classifies any genre outside of gospel music as “secular” LOL. I’d probably start with that and then she’d say “you should be using your voice for the Lord, baby,” and force me to come to her bible study class haha.

Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?

My first single ‘Lost In The Music’, produced by Michael Fatkin and co-written with David Ryan Harris, has layered meanings. We wrote it about a couple that can’t figure out how to stop breaking up to make up and it reminded me of my relationship with my music career. It’s caused me so much pain that at times I’ve wanted to give up on it but ultimately my love for it is too strong to let go.

‘Sober’ was written about two people from opposite sides of the world, chasing their big dreams to the big city and finding each other along the way. When one of them falls, the other is always there to help pick them up. It’s a love story.

‘Saying Sorry’ is about figuring out how to forgive yourself. I’ve been good at being sneaky in the past *insert wink* and did some things I probably shouldn’t have, but by the time I wanted to confess we were in a good place and I didn’t want to ruin a good thing. If everyone’s happy there’s no point in saying sorry, right?  Jesus. I sound like a bad person haha.

What do you love about your hometown?

It’s a small town so people really support each other and I love that. I love how proud we all are to be from Flint [Michigan] and I also love the culture around sport and music. It’s a very short drive from Motown so the music is great!!

Career highlight so far?

My most recent ones were ‘Lost In The Music’ being on Apple Music’s ‘New Music Daily’ playlist on the day it was released and getting invited to the private viewing of the new Gucci Aria collection. I was definitely happy about both of those!

Check out ‘Lost In The Music’ by Johnny Manuel:

Fave non-music hobby?

It’s more of a practice than a hobby but I love meditating. I also love travelling and reading fashion magazines haha.

What’s on your dream rider?

As much amazing vegan food as you can fit in the dressing room. In particular the lasagne bolognese AND meatball pizza from my favourite vegan restaurant in LA, Crossroads Kitchen. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Dream music collaboration?

At the moment I’d have to say H.E.R. She can do no wrong.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

More than a few top 10 charting songs under my belt, having toured the world over… that’s the dream.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Stevie Wonder – ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’…I try to avoid singing at karaoke though because I love watching everyone else so much haha.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be honest and keep going.

What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?

The Golden Girls. I can quote just about every line from any episode by heart. LOL fucking love that show!

For more on this topic, follow the Pop Observer.

Check out an acoustic rendition of ‘Lost In The Music’ by Johnny Manuel:

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine