At age 14, Harlem-native Walter Russell III secured his first Grammy at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards held earlier this month.
“I kinda made history,” says Russell detailing what he called a surreal experience when his name was called.
“Everyone was like ‘oh my goodness.’ My mom went to hug me but I was already like three feet away,” Russell said. “So she ran, I hugged her, she was bawling.
“Normally I would cry during that situation, but, I don’t know, all of the nerves, I was like ‘ok, I won, let's do this,” the teen added.
What You Need To Know
- At age 14, Harlem native Walter Russell III secured his first Grammy at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards held earlier this month
- Russell is also the youngest black male to earn that coveted statue
- His award winning performance in the opera “Blanchard: Fire Shut Up in My Bones” now places him among the list of youngest Grammy winners like LeAnn Rimes and Billie Eilish
- Born and raised in Harlem, Russell says his craft was nurtured at the Harlem School of the Arts
His award winning performance in the opera “Blanchard: Fire Shut Up in My Bones” now places him among the list of youngest Grammy winners like LeAnn Rimes and Billie Eilish, but Russell is also the youngest black male to earn that coveted statue.
“I had a lot of belief in the opera and I knew it was such a huge success and it also had a lot of history, especially with it being the first black composer at the Met opera,” said Russell.
The journey to landing that opera role began many years prior. Russell performed as Young Simba in the national tour of the “The Lion King” and is currently on Broadway in “MJ the Musical.”
“All I’ve known my whole is to dance, so that’s one thing that makes me very happy to do,” said Russell. But of course, he’s also a singer.
“Probably my first song I ever sang was Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and she was the first one to notice it as well. She was like ‘you can sing,’” recalled Russell.
Born and raised in Harlem, Russell says his craft was nurtured at the Harlem School of the Arts. Classes he took there helped him prepare for his opera audition.
“My mom knew, like, if I wanted to craft more of that acting and singing mainly then she was like ‘you have to do HSA,’” said Russell.
Not only does he credit the staff at HSA but his Harlem community, friends and family which he said have encouraged him every step of the way.
“I just love the support of my friends. When I got back to school I opened that door and everyone was like, wow,” Russell said.
The young talent says he doesn’t know what’s next but he’s surely up for the challenge.
“Where else can I go from here? I’ll just keep on continuing to push and thrive and maybe I’ll be the youngest EGOT, I don’t know,” said Russell.