Based: Johannessburg

South African vocalist Connell Cruise makes exuberant, melodic pop. Born in Johannesburg in 1987, Cruise began taking piano lessons at age four. Music remained largely a hobby, however, until the one-time law student auditioned for the sixth season of the reality vocal competition Idols SA in 2010. While Cruise did not make it past the early rounds of the competition, his demo recording caught the attention of execs at David Gresham Records, who signed him to a management contract. In 2013, Cruise released his debut self-titled album. It was a breakthrough, producing three number one hit singles including his cover of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” The following year,Cruise gained further attention, earning three South African Music Award nominations including “Best Adult Contemporary Album,” “Male Artist of the Year,” and “Record of the Year.” Buoyed by his success, he signed a recording contract with Sony/Epic Records. In 2015, Cruise released his debut single for Sony/Epic, the Ido Zmishlany-produced “Into the Wild.”