Sanni is a 19 year old pop/soul/funk singer, songwriter & dancer. A born entertainer, he’s been singing, dancing and performing since he was just a toddler. Raised in Texas by his music-loving parents who are originally from Tanzania and Kenya, Sanni has been honing his craft performing live as a singer and dancer in front of hundreds and often thousands since his early teens. Sanni performed at his church as well as part of a nationally competitive dance troupe called Riot Squad, which won the World of Dance championships twice consecutively.
Sanni began filming himself doing cover songs at 14 years old, throwing them up on YouTube periodically he quickly gained over 200,000 views. One short acapella clip of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” posted on Vine, landed 15,000 followers in one day. After this early experimental phase, he decided to step out and really test himself as a singer on the world’s stage.
Sanni first really caught the eyes and ears of America, when he sang a short excerpt of Michael Jackson’s “Who’s Loving You” on national TV as his audition for American Idol in 2013.
After blowing away judges Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson with his voice and charm, they unanimously voted Sanni through to Hollywood Week. As Nicki Minaj put it, “Candy canes, strawberries, whipped cream, rainbows and sunny skies.” that seemed like a good thing… but it was Keith Urban who hit the nail on the head, saying, “I love your balance of confidence and humility, that’s a beautiful thing… that’s inspiring.”
The night of his audition’s airing, Sanni trended on twitter having clearly also connected with the millions watching at home. The mystery comes when he seemingly disappeared from the show after such a stellar audition.
As Sanni recalls, “American Idol was a roller coaster. It was all new to me and looking back, I think I was swallowed up in the "tv"ness of it all. Honestly, when I got on stage with two other singers on Hollywood week, I wasn't true to myself and tried to adapt to a style that wasn't my own. I learned a lot about trusting my instincts after the experience... as a person, an artist and a performer. I thought about going back to audition the next year, but decided I'd learned everything I wanted to from the show. I wanted to find my own way as an artist and just go for it. I feel like making music and performing is what I am called to do in life. After seeing the reaction I got on Idol I decided to move to L.A. to follow my dream of being an artist. It was a big step of faith.”
What Sanni didn’t know at the time was the multi-platinum production, songwriting and artist development team BROKEN CITY (Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, Colton Dixon, Nick Jonas, Hey Violet) Had seen his audition and were instantly sold on his talent.
As BROKEN CITY’s Adam Watts states, “My wife and I happened to be watching Idol that night and we both thought there was no question he was gonna win the whole thing. There are so many elements you look for in an artist, from their voice, to their musicality & overall artistry to their work ethic and personality… he had all of them plus that extra thing you just can’t put your finger on. He also seemed like such a genuine, intelligent and humble guy, which is huge for my partner Gannin and I. So within a few months we had tracked him down and after just one session, we knew he was really a special talent and that the chemistry we had was really unique."
It was after months of collaboration, in 2015 that things began to quickly come into clear focus. Adam continues, "From day one, given his passion and abilities as dancer along with his pop/soul vocal approach, we all felt drawn to a sound that equal parts modern pop and classic soul meets funk. We kept building on it, and honed in on a sound that was as influenced by classic artist’s like Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, Chic, and Stevie Wonder, as much as it was at home amongst today’s artists who carry that same torch. Guys like Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. We decided to partner with Sanni longterm and we’ve been working closely with him ever since, writing, recording and getting everything together. We feel like now’s the time for him and his music to get out there. We have huge belief in him as a future global force in pop music.”
Watch for Sanni to release new music, videos and perform live in 2015.