*Elijah Connor is Detroit to the core. Flashy, bold and unapologetic. Exactly how he appeared when he strolled on stage to perform during the second season of FOX’s The Four and challenged, of all people, Diddy.
While he did not win the competition, by most accounts, he was victorious. His epic staredown with the Bad Boy legend resulted in a viral meme that has garnered over 1 billion online impressions. It has also catapulted him to stardom while the show’s winner remains relatively unknown. None of this, however, is surprising. As the youngest cousin of the late music icon, Prince, greatness runs through his blood.
“I came out of the womb with confidence,” Connor said. “For most children, their first word is mommy or daddy. The first thing that came out of my mouth outside of crying was a note. I know my gift came from God and I grew up around greatness. My parents always pushed me to excellence. My mom would always say, excellence or nothing at all.”
Connor grew up in a family of educators, doctors and pastors. His father was a pastor of a church and his mother a doctor of education. He started singing in the choir when he was just three years old.
After years of developing his talents, he knew that he would pursue his career in entertainment after high school. However, his parents had other plans.
“I had a song that was getting airplay on the radio in Detroit at the time and I was earning some coins, but my mom still said, make sure you go to college.”
However, that idea did not appeal to him.
“Long story short, I dropped out of college two times. After I graduated from high school, I went away to school in New York. My parents were sending me money, but I ended up getting a modeling contract and I was stacking the money that they would send.”
Eventually, Connor’s cover was blown when his guidance counselor contacted his parents and informed them that he had been truant for 45 days.
“One day, I was doing a photoshoot for Banana Republic and my mom called. I said, ‘mom I’m in class, I have to call you later,’ and hung up. I was really in a photoshoot. She called me back and I said ‘mom, I am in class.’ She said ‘that’s funny…because I’m in your counselor’s office. You have 30 minutes to get here.’ She flew all the way to New York, so I knew I was in trouble.”
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Connor eventually dropped out of school in New York, and later in Detroit. He decided that his success would come in another way; and not long after, he shared the stage with Grammy Award-winning artists, released singles and even appeared alongside Whitney Houston in the movie Sparkle.
It all led to his biggest moment – being booted from Fox’s top-rated series before millions of viewers. It was his blessing in disguise. In fact, had Connor not been rejected, the viral moment that has circulated Instagram accounts, TV and computer screens worldwide would have never happened.
Therein lies a valuable lesson and a message that he shares with anyone looking to carve out success in their own lives.
“Just be true to you. Stand on what you believe in. Especially true to your artistry,” he said. “I made that song mine. I didn’t go up there to deliver Love as [Musiq Soulchild] would. I delivered it as Elijah would. Sometimes it’s not always about winning. You can sometimes make a bigger impact by taking a loss and turning it into a win. Sometimes winning is what you do with that loss. Who would have known that that moment would have turned into a classic? An “L” can do more for you than a “W”. I turned it into more opportunity and impacted culture.”
Currently, Connor has his hands full. He is working on a movie script, a clothing line, launching his foundation, and of course, finalizing his EP.
His song “Mill Ticket” featuring Tee Grizzley premiered on WorldStarHipHop and has over a million views. His latest single, Reputation, is available now on all streaming platforms.
If there is anything Elijah Connor wants people to know, it is to never, ever doubt him. He is from Detroit, and like they say, if you can make it in Detroit, you can make it anywhere.