Kendallvilles Spencer Kane would rather discourage than foster comparisons to Justin Bieber.
But it seems to me that if fans of the Canadian crooner call themselves beliebers, fans of Spencer Kane might want to consider calling themselves Kaneadians.
Not that I am trying to stir up a feud or anything.
As Bieber did at the start of his career, Kane is generating some buzz on YouTube with his original songs and self-produced videos.
Kane, whose full name is Spencer Kane Hess, says people often compare him to Bieber with the best of intentions, and he always responds politely.
I wouldnt mind being in his spot, making millions, Kane says. But I want to do something different.
Kane, 15, says he is a fan of the pop music that Bieber makes and that Biebers chart-mates make, but he also appreciates the neo-soul of Maroon 5, the hip-hop of Drake and the folk-pop of Jason Mraz.
It was a Maroon 5 song called Sunday Morning that tipped off Spencers dad, Patrick Hess, to his sons potential vocal talents.
Hess, who had some vocal experience of his own in the disparate worlds of musical theater and musical ministry, says he heard Kane singing the song in the bathroom in 2009 and he was astounded.
He had a real jazz quality to his voice, Hess says. I had never heard him sing that way before. I said, You really should consider doing more with your voice than singing along with records.
Kane subsequently entered the Noble County version of American Idol in 2010 and was runner-up in the 16-and-younger division.
At an open X-Factor audition in Fort Wayne in 2011, Kane finished in the top three.
When music experts at the latter praised Kanes talents, it was a validation that spurred his dad to step things up a notch.
I was freaking out, Hess says. That was when I knew it was not just a case of dad and mom saying Hes got something. Thats when we started to take it seriously.
Kane has since recorded three songs with the help of the engineers and consultants at Sweetwater Sound and has made three videos, two of them directed by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Greg Thompson. A full-length album is due in August, Hess says.
Last summer, Kane performed before his largest audience yet (several thousand) at IPFWs Riverfest.
It was really fun, he said. It was really different from the coffee shop shows I do. I couldnt even see anyone out there. It was like singing to a field.
Hess says he is acting as Kanes manager but that he and his son are taking things slow.
My wife and I are very protective of him, Hess says. We dont want him on the wrong path.
Academics and athletics will always come first, Hess says, and Kanes mom is ever on hand to remind everyone that childhood should not be crowded out.
Shes the nurturer, Hess says. She says, Patrick, youve got to let him be a kid. She gets choked up when she hears him singing. From her standpoint, he is growing up before her eyes.
Hess describes his family as faith-based and says his son has taken a vow of purity until marriage that led to some bullying at a school that Kane no longer attends.
But both Hess and Kane say they want Kanes songs to have a broader appeal than is possible within the confines of the Contemporary Christian musical genre.
Hess says he hopes his sons lyrics will always reflect a lifestyle that is faith-based but were not trying to sell somebody something.
I tell people my age that I want him to be this generations Donny Osmond, Hess says. Kid-tested, mother-approved.
Like the young Osmond, Kane is already being fan-tested: marriage proposals and dodgier offers have poured in.
I often say to my wife, Look at this tweet, Hess says. What parent would allow their child to talk this way to someone they dont even know; be this intimate.
Hess says he his fully aware of that whole side of things you see on the news, i.e. the pressures that are brought to bear on celebrities from without and within.
But I think his foundation is strong enough, and the bond between us is strong enough, that (he will stay grounded), he says.
Spencer Kane is currently up for Best Pop Artist and Best Solo Artist at the Artists In Music Awards, which will be given out Feb. 10.
For information about this and all things Spencer Kane, go to www.spencerkanemusic.com.