HOMETOWN: Middleton, Wisc.
INFLUENCES: Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo
ALBUM: Firecracker, out now
At just 12 years old, Skylar Stecker has a vocal range and a drive to succeed that rivals artists twice her age. Daughter of former NFL running back Aaron Stecker, she wrote her first song in the third grade, the same year she made her onstage debut at a hometown talent show. “That’s when I knew music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” says Stecker. On her debut EP Firecracker, Stecker worked with ace producers Alex Cantrall (Beyoncé, Ariana Grande) and the Heavyweights (Rihanna, Ne-Yo), among others, to create a broad spectrum of R&B, hip-hop and electropop-laced tracks. Despite her age, the accomplished piano player held her own in the studio, writing or co-writing all seven songs. “Songwriting comes naturally to me,” she says. “And I like being part of the entire process,” she says. “That way I feel connected when I perform the songs.”