Now Or Never

How three Canadian brothers sang their way from YouTube to Times Square

Three Canadian brothers are making a big splash in the international music scene these days. Just over a year ago, their cover of I'll be There by the Jackson 5 went viral on YouTube.
The Melisizwe Brothers from Edmonton are rising stars in the music scene. (Mark James)
Listen9:53

Three Canadian brothers are making a big splash on the international music scene.

On New Year's Eve, the Melisizwe Brothers sang at Times Square in New York. 

It wasn't the first time the three boys reached millions of people.

In 2016, their cover of I'll be There by the Jackson 5 went viral on YouTube.

The Melisizwe Brothers are actually the James brothers. Marc, 14, Seth, 11, and Zacary, 10, live in Edmonton but they haven't been spending much time there lately. That's because they've been travelling, mostly between New York and L.A.

"We chose the  [South African] name Melisizwe because it means 'leaders of the future,'" explained Seth. "Whenever you want to do something you always look for a name with a great meaning and a powerful meaning." 

It all started with big brother Marc singing Jackson 5 songs. This led to each of the boys learning instruments. Soon they were making music in their basement on a regular basis.

In 2016, parents Mark and Sherry started posting home videos online, to share with family and friends. People began reaching out to them on Facebook, encouraging them to record more songs.

Three days after they posted their I'll be There video, it reached six million people.

"Ellen [Degeneres] called us up and said that she wanted us to be on her show," explained Marc. "After that it started to kick and we started to do more things."  

Rapid success comes with its challenges. "Some people tell us, 'You're too young and you should wait until you're older,' but we don't really listen to them," said Seth.

"We just have to really stay grounded as brothers and we have to keep pushing for what we want," explained Marc. "We want to make a difference with our music." 

​"I know I'm a kid but in my head, I feel like an adult," said Zacary. "I dream big things in my head when I'm singing. I dream about travelling the world, conquering it with music."

One of the big successes for the Melisizwe Brothers has been winning Steve Harvey's Apollo Theatre contest. They performed on the same stage as Diana Ross, the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder.

The Melisizwe Brothers are homeschooled these days. They also devote a lot of time to charity work.

Lead singer Zacary has this advice for aspiring singers: "Don't ever forfeit the game." 

"You gotta try. You gotta get up. You gotta try again and again."