Six years ago Tje Austin captivated the nation with a belting rendition of Bruno Mar’s ‘Just The Way You Are’ during season one of The Voice. The soulful R&B singer-songwriter has since shed his trademark afro, kicked cancer’s ass and recently produced the most refined and definitive project of his promising career in I Belong to You. Austin is a part of a unique wave of young and ambitious artists ushering in a new diversity to the traditional blues and rockabilly mindset of the Live Music Capital. Now, just days away from his 33rd birthday, Austin finds himself at the forefront of his city’s omnifarious musical movement and destined towards national prominence; and that’s exactly where he belongs.
Originally from Hawaii, Austin was adopted at four days old by a loving Mormon family that consisted of five brothers and three sisters. He was raised in a supportive multicultural household with parents he humorously considers “very, very white people.” Music was a large part of Austin’s childhood. “My dad was super country,” he laughs. “So, we listened to a lot of country and 70’s rock. Then, with so many brothers and sisters, as everyone got older the music became very different. We started listening to Madonna…then Green Day…then Destiny’s Child and Kanye. Our taste in music was constantly evolving.”
After High School, Austin attempted a political science degree at The University of Texas before a change of heart turned his hobby into a full-blown career path. “I was probably the worst student ever,” he admits. “I was constantly bouncing back and forth.” Coincidentally, Austin happened upon a friend who was starting a band and looking to add talent. “At the time, I needed a place to stay,” he recalls. “So, I told him I’d be in his band if he’d let me be his roommate. It was sort of like a boy band…It was terrible. But, after that I started doing my own thing because I discovered I really liked it.”
Austin released his solo debut in 2008 with Love Me Knots and followed that with 2010’s Xperience. The attractive R&B charmer gained national attention while competing on NBC’s hit talent show and his third album, Dreamin’ Big, debuted in 2012 to a larger audience but mixed reviews.
This past January, Austin released his most complete project to date with the passionate and introspective I Belong to You. Inspired by the changes Austin went through after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2013, the provocative EP deals with love and loss, grief and promise. “Cancer was a big part of my life for three years. That’s all that I would do: sleep, chemo, eat when I could, and repeat,” he earlier told Austin Monthly. In May of 2016, Austin underwent his last chemotherapy treatment and in August was declared cancer free.
Austin’s outlook on life and understanding of its frail significance helps keep the singer grounded in an industry that often inflates the ego. His huge sense of humor and easy-going personality provide a surprising contrast to the heavy-hearted poetry behind I Belong to You. A dedicated songwriter by nature, Austin’s passion for creating music is nearly overshadowed by his love for pastry baking. “They’re both very similar to me because you’re creating something and testing things out,” he claims. “You want to make the best product possible. Is it going to taste good…or is it going to sound good? And then when you’re all done it’s like, ‘Aww, man. That’s the shit right there!’”
It would be easy to assume Austin fits the typical R&B playboy persona with his magnetic personality, handsome charm and fresh sense of style. But, for anyone hoping to enjoy fresh pastries with one of Austin, TX’s top bachelors, you’d better forget about online dating and get into online gaming. “I don’t do any of those apps,” he confesses. “I know that’s how a lot of people date these days. But, I don’t really understand Tinder and Bumble and all of that. I’d much rather stay home and play Xbox.”
Your best chance to spend time with the home-bodied R&B crooner will be Saturday, June 24th, when he celebrates his birthday at 3TEN Austin City Limits Live with an evening of soulful jams and sweet surprises. “I’ve been trying to come up with something special for my party. I want everyone to have a good time. Of course, I want to look fly as well. It is a birthday after all. I’m not entirely sure yet, but, something’s coming. One thing’s for certain. There’s definitely going to be cake.”
Austin is also preparing to begin work on his next couple of projects. “I love Christmas. So, I want to do a little Christmas project with a few other cool Austin artists.” He also recently linked up with Milwaukee-born, Austin-based rapping wordsmith, Branden Rex, whose ‘50¢ wings’ video immediately had the R&B singer contemplating a collaboration. “That dude is super dope. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
The future looks very bright for Austin. He’s at a point in his career where he can take his music in just about any direction he chooses. He possesses the talent and ambition to journey very far in the music industry and with his attractive personality fans shouldn’t be hard to come by. If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself Saturday at 3TEN Austin City Limits.
Tickets can be purchased here.
The evening will also include performances by Mama K & The Shades and ulovei.
For additional information visit: https://www.mynameistjeaustin.com/
Photos by: J. Alan Love
Article by: Doug Leach