Most people think that you have to start singing at an early age in order to become successful, although this is true for some part but as you will see there are plenty of singers who made it big and started late in their lives. The best part about singing is that it isn’t age-restricted, no matter how old or young you are if you love singing then you can still make it. Some singers who started late got lucky, while others started their singing career as a beginner singer.
Don’t get me wrong, after a certain age singing gets more difficult, the ideal time to start singing is at an early age. This way you can form your voice and experiment with different styles of singing genres and vocal techniques. Generally speaking, most singers who made it big and have also started late have one thing in common, they all sung as a hobby. Very few of them discovered that they loved singing at a later stage in their life.
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Even if you are looking at your singing as just a hobby, who knows you might even hit it big later in life as some of these other singers have done. Life tends to get complicated, in your early 20’s your main goal will be to make something out of yourself, if you are a singer then you are probably looking to have your big break. The problem is that life isn’t that simple, and it will often throw you a curveball, which will force you to set your dreams aside and focus on the pressing issues, like paying this month’s rent.
Some of the singers who have started out late had to put their music career on hold, for some reason or another. But they have never truly stopped singing, even if they have done so as a hobby or a fun activity. If you love singing, and singing makes you happy then don’t worry to chase success, it will find you sooner or later. If you want to test yourself as a singer, then my personal recommendation is to try singing the hardest songs, check them out in my recent article Hardest songs to sing ( Top 89 most Difficult songs to Sing ).
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Sheryl Crow at age 31
Some would say that the ’30s are the new 20’s, and they might be on to something. Sheryl Crow became famous at the age of 31, although she was singing since her early childhood. She was actually a music teacher at an elementary school in Missouri. In her spare time, she was writing gingles for commercials, and for corporate events. She is one of those singers who was a backup singer before making her debut album in 1992.
Sheryl Crow was the backup singer for the most famous singer of the time in the 80’s Michael Jackson which played a big part in her singing career. She actually became famous due to the internet, her first debut album was never picked up by the recording label, but somehow it ended up on MP3 sites. MP3 sites were sites which provided songs to download, back in those days you couldn’t actually listen to music online. The song which made here a celebrity is “All I Wanna Do”, which was launched in 1993, and thus a legend has been born. If you are wondering if you have a good voice, then check out my recent article How to tell if you have a good singing voice? ( In 11 Steps ).
Wayne Coyne at age 32
Wayne Coyne is also a relatively late bloomer in the singing industry. He is one of those singers who had a minimum wage job and kept on practicing with his band. This by itself can be extremely challenging, although he was a talented singer and there “hobby band” had performed at several festivals and live shows. Wayne Coyne was actually a frying cook and a secret super start. After 11 years of working as a frying cook, he eventually hit it big with his band The Flaming Lips and their song “She Don’t Use Jelly”.
Matt Berninger at age 34
Matt Berninger is now an accomplished singer and songwriter, although this was not the case for a long time. He had a steady 9-5 job and during the weekends he would often practice with his band. In 2001 things started to get more serious and the band decided to invest in their first album. Although their first album was not a massive success it did make them enough money to take it more seriously.
After their first album, the band had started performing at live events, shows, and private parties. A couple of years later in 2004, they were so confident in their band that all of the band members quit their job and focused on the band full time, and it paid off in a couple of years. In 2005 they have released their third album called Alligator, which became an instant success, at that time Matt Berninger was 34. If you are a singer and you are wondering what you should do at your first time stage performance then check out my recent article ( Top 10 ) Tips for performing on stage for the first time.
Bill Withers at age 32
Bill Withers is the typical singer who made it big with sheer perseverance. He was born in a poor family and he was the youngest of the six children. Bill Withers was singing and writing songs for most of his life, although he never looked at it like something more than a hobby. He served in the US navy and after that, he worked a minimum wage job at a factory. While he was working at the factory he continued to work on his singing career and at the age of 32 he released his first album and the song which made him famous is called “Ain’t No Sunshine”.
Leonard Cohen at age 33
Leonard Cohen was actually a writer who had made it big in the music industry. The Canadian born Cohen, always dreamt of being a successful world-famous writer, although the universe had other plans for him. Cohen was a full-time writer for a couple of years already when he started writing songs, just to make some additional income. His songs were extremely popular and he released his first album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” which made him an overnight celebrity.
Seasick Steve at age 65
Seasick Steve was for most of his life a farmer, who earned his day to day bread with manual work. He was singing from an early age but he never considered he could actually make a profit from his singing. As he was getting older, manual labor was getting harder, so he had to supplement his income with busking. Seasick Steve has set up a small website that contained his cover songs and after he performed at the Jools Holland’s New Year’s Eve Hootenanny, his website became viral sending him over 1 million visitors, and the rest is history. At that time Seasick Steve was 65.
Andrea Bocelli at age 41
Andrea Bocelli is an internationally famous singer today, although he was not an instant success as some might think. Andrea Bocelli is an opera singer which is a lot of work, so he had to make it no matter what, although he probably never thought he would become so successful. Andrea Bocelli’s career was kickstarted by Pavarotti, which at the time was the most famous “classical” singer at that time.
Pavarotti has listened to Andrea Bocelli’s demo tape and he was so impressed that he offered a collaboration, which was a massive success. He was hired by a record label and he managed to get out his debut album, which was successful but not intentionally successful. At the age of 41, he released his album Sacred Arias which made him an international success.
Rachel Platten at age 34
Rachel Platten is a singer and songwriter, most of her life he worked in the music industry on and off although she always had a normal 9-5 job. Rachel Platten has written hundreds of songs but not of them made her famous. She got her lucky break with her hit song called “Fight Song”, which entered the Billboard Hot 100’s in the top 10 positions. This made her an overnight success and launched her career as a singer and songwriter, she was 34 at that time.
Leonard Cohen at age 50
Leonard Cohen for most of his life was a writer, with a moderate amount of success. He mostly wrote fiction, which was in high demand but somehow he didn’t manage to get a break as a writer. He knew he could sing better than most singers, and a the age of 33 he has released his first album. The album was a success but it dint kickstart his career as a singer. From then on Leonard Cohen would write fiction and sing as well.
Not until he was 50 he made it big, with his hit song “Hallelujah”. This song is still extremely popular even to this day and a lot of singers sing it in their own versions.
Andy Summers at age 35
You probably heard of Andy Summers but you don’t even know it, he was part of The Police. Andy Summers was actually a session guitarist for several bands, basically a freelance guitarist. At the age of 35, he was introduced to Sting, who noticed that Andy Summers can also sing, and do it extremely well. Sting was so impressed by his voice that he actually asked him to join The Police, and the rest is history.
Tuli Kupferberg at age 40
Tuli Kupferberg was always an extremely talented person, for most of his life, he was a writer, although at some point he was also a cartoonist. In his spare time, he was writing poems, songs and even dabbled in singing on occasion. He was a fairly successful writer, but his singing career would outshine his writing career. Tuli Kupferberg was one of the original founders of the band Fugs which was a punk band, the band became instantly famous for its extremely catchy songs, at that time Tuli Kupferberg was 40.
Jay Z at age 28
Jay Z was already an established singer before he would make it big. He was singing from a young age and at the age of 28 he managed to make it extremely big, and need up selling over 100 million records.
Charles Bradley at age 62
Charles Bradley loved to sing from an early age, he was a big fan of James Brown and he was actually a James Brown impersonator. Impersonating James Brown isn’t an easy task, so he knew that sooner or later he would have his break as a singer. For most of hs life, he worked as a chef and he made some extra money as a James Brown impersonator. As he was getting older he started to rely more and more on income made by impersonating James Brown.
He was eventually discovered by Daptone Records while doing one of his impersonating gigs, the record label has made a successful singer out of him, and at that time Charles Bradley was 62.
Susan Boyle at age 47
Susan Boyle has an interesting life although a somewhat sad one. When she was younger she was diagnosed with some kind of learning disability and only later in life she would find out that she actually had Aspergers. Most of her life she worked minimum wage jobs, but she always knew she had it in her to be a great singer. She continuously went to singing auditions without getting her break, even though she is an extremely talented singer.
She finally got her breaks at age 47 with Britain’s Got Talent, and the video with her singing went viral, gaining millions of views in the first couple of days. She never gave up, always believed in her ability to sing and she has made it.
Michael Fitzpatrick at age 40
Michael Fitzpatrick was a recording engineer so he knew how the music industry worked, although it still took him some time to find success as a singer. He eventually founded the band Tantrums, with a couple of his best friends and their debut album was an instant success, the song which was the hit is called “MoneyGrabber”, and at that time Michael Fitzpatrick was 40.
James Murphy at age 35
James Murphy has worked most of his life in the music industry, he knew how hard it was to get some attention, especially for somebody who wasn’t considered much of a musician. Most of his life he has worked with several bands, either helping them out or by being a band member. He started his own band called LCD Soundsystem, and their first single “Losing My Edge” was a success. In 2005 he released his own debut album which has earned a Grammy award nomination, he was 35 at that time.
John Grant at age 42
John Grant was actually working at a record store when he probably noticed the true voice of some of the singers. He was the co-founder of The Czars band, although things didn’t end up well as they had a massive fight and all band members decided to quit. The good news was that John Grant could focus on his solo career from that point onward. He eventually hit it big at the age of 42 when he released his debut album called Queen of Denmark.
Matt Nathanson at age 35
Matt Nathanson was a singer and a songwriter for most of his life. He has released several albums although most of them had little to no success. At the age of 35, he was still determined to make it big, and with the release of his seventh album, he managed to do that. The hit single which made him a celebrity is called “Come On Get Higher”.
Debbie Harry at age 33
Debbie Harry had an interesting life, to say the least before she became a famous singer she was actually a Playboy Bunny. Debbie Harry has released several albums without much of a success, although her third album would make her a world-famous singer. Her third album had the song “Heart of Glass” for which she became famous, at that time she was 33.
John Ondrasik at age 35
John Ondrasik always wanted to be a famous singer, he was singing from an early age and he was also playing the guitar and piano. At some point, he even experimented with opera singing but he decided that it wasn’t for him and he stuck to singing and writing songs. He released his debut album in 1997 called Message for Albert. In 2001 he released his song America Town which became extremely popular, thus catapulting him into the spotlights, at that time he was 35.
Ian Dury at age 35
Ian Dury was an artist his entire life, he was both an illustrator and a teacher. Most of his life revolved around the arts, although his main goal was to become a successful illustrator. He always sang as a hobby and he recruited some of his most talented students to form the band named Kilburn and The High Roads, although the band didn’t have as much success as he hoped for. This band has eventually broken up due to unknown causes.
A couple of years later he founded a new band named Blockheads, and their song Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll became a massive hit, at that time Ian Dury was 35.
2 Chainz at age 34
For most of his life, 2 Chainz was a rapper, he often performed at live and private events. His previous rapper name was Tity Boi, and he changed it to 2 Chainz to reach a wider audience and it worked. At the age of 34, he released his seventh mixtape and this landed him in the Billboards charts. Since then he has made collaborations with several of the most famous rap and pop singers of today.
Peaches at age 32
Her life was all about music and acting, Peaches was actually a very good music and drama teacher. She tried her entire life to get her big break as a singer, but for some reason or another, she never got her lucky break. Originally from Canada, she eventually moved to Germany where she thought she would have more success as a singer, and she was right. At the age of 32, she released her album The Teaches of Peaches and she became an overnight sensation.
As you can see there are a lot of singers who started out late, although most of them found success in their mid 30’s but there are some who found their success in their mid 60’s. Becoming a successful singer is an uphill battle, it always was and it will always be like this. If you are a singer and you believe in your abilities to sing, then do not quit, success will eventually find you.