How to stay grounded after going from Ontario tween to platinum-selling idol pretty much overnight? As Justin Bieber tells Guy Dixon, ‘You just gotta be humble’.
For the benefit of millions of screaming young fans, not to mention their ecstatic moms, let’s cut to the chase: What’s Justin Bieber really like?
The Stratford, Ont.-raised teen idol, with his meticulously forward-combed hair, is on the telephone from Atlanta. With the rasp of a typical 15-year-old, he is as polite as in his myriad TV appearances on everything from MuchMusic to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. There’s a constant rustle in the background; others in the room are distracting him. He apologizes and moves closer to the speakerphone.
Bieber is clearly still in the eager-to-please phase of his young career. If he has hit the wall of teen cynicism, it doesn’t show. There seems to be no brewing hubris, despite the fact that his debut album of tween-targeted pop, My World, recorded under the wing of his mentor and business partner, R&B singer Usher, has already gone platinum in the United States (a million copies sold) and Canada (100,000 copies) since its November release.
“Being famous was never in my mind,” he says. “Also, like, Stratford, Ontario … a little town of 30,000 in the middle of nowhere? It was something I didn’t think was possible. I owe everything to my fans and YouTube.”