At 17 years old, Christian Inman is building an impressive portfolio. He has penned nearly 50 songs, taken TikTok by storm, made the local news and has his music is showcased in an ad for a multinational auto company. He’s one of several up and coming artists in Generation Next who are making their mark young and strong. Positively Gospel spoke with Christian about his new-found fame and what lies ahead for the singer-songwriter.
I know you come from a musical family. What first got you into music?
“My dad (recording artist Javon Inman) is a singer so I’ve always seen him sing, so I kind of realized that this was something I could do really young. I want to say I was three when I started singing. I became more serious about it around 7th grade when I started to pick up piano and started getting into fine arts competitions. I did well and I said okay, this is something that I think I can do with the rest of my life. My dad and I had this one moment where we he was like when people get older they don’t wish for more material things they wish for more time. I always say all the time that the time I have on earth I want to spend with something that I love and that’s music. It’s one of my biggest passions so that’s why I do music.”
How would you describe your musical style?
“I want my music to transcend genres. I want my music to be able to impact everyone in the world. My motto is that I want my music to make people feel they are not alone in this crazy world. Truly, this world is super, super crazy and all these things unprecedented things happening in the world, I want my music to be a safe space so people can be able to relate to it, cry to it; laugh to it; have gatherings to it and be able to truly heal people. That’s the goal of my music. But I am mostly, pop and R&B, but I do sing a lot of gospel. I’m in a gospel choir and I sing gospel with my dad.”
Your song, “Change” seems to have struck a chord with many during the social justice movement. What led you to write that song?
“In ninth grade I had an assignment for my government and politics class. The teacher had all these topics and I chose to do police brutality, protest and legislation because that was something I was passionate about. I was really into the legislation and police brutality part. We could create the project through any medium we wanted to. After the period was over, I went to the chapel and I started playing chords and started singing this melody for my song and the song really came together. After that I went to class and performed it for Black History Month and I released it this year.”
Were you surprised at the response the song received?
“I was very surprised, actually. I wrote it in 9th grade, performed it in 10th grade and this year I saw so much going on. I can’t go protesting because of COVID-19 so I felt that I wanted to do something to contribute to the movement because I’m really passionate about social justice and equality. I recorded it on TikTok and uploaded it two more times and no one saw it. After the third time, my friend said you might want to go check your TikTok, I think your video might be blowing up! I go to TikTok and it had 100,000 views that day and it started getting more and more (currently 242,000 views). I was like goodness, gracious what in the world?”
The song also caught the eye of actress, television host, comedian and YouTuber Liza Koshy who posted the song on her Instagram page along with other young artists. Koshy’s post currently has 1,142,084 views.
“I am really so grateful. I have always been inspired by Liza Koshy. I think she’s amazing and her work ethic is amazing. I watched her when I was in middle school. She commented on the song and she also DM’ed me a little back and forth. She also put me on her music channel for the fundraiser for the equal justice initiative so I was so grateful for her.”
There was more in store Christian but he is not naïve. When he got a message on Instagram alleging it was from the multinational automaker, BMV, he had his mom verify it was the real deal. Turns out it was completely real!
This song has taken you into many arenas, including a BMW commercial. How did that come about?
“BMV Motor is doing a series on this new motorcycle they’re introducing. Since it’s kind of a remake of a motorcycle they kind of wanted to connect history like the Buffalo soldiers from the Civil War. They said the song really struck a chord with them. They were looking on Tik Tok and other places trying to find the perfect song for that piece. When they found the song, they said they had to have this song in there because it really represents everything from the change to it being a youthful voice. I had no idea what influence it would have on people. I didn’t even know people would hear it so it’s just makes me really, really happy.”
What is your creative process like? How do you get to that sweet spot. How many have you written thus far?
“It is a lot in instrumentals. I have a friend, Jeremiah and he’s an incredibly talented pianist. He’ll be in the chapel and I’ll come in and he’s playing these chords and I’m like ‘hey can I write to that?’ A lot of what I write comes from how I feel and how the chords make me feel and what message I want to give to people. Those are the two things that truly inspire me. I just want to make people feel something. That’s the purpose of my music. Whenever I write, whenever I perform, I want to make sure that people are feeling something.”
How many songs have you written so far?
“I don’t know if I can even tell you. Around maybe at least maybe 30-50 songs. I love writing so much. I also like singing. I just love it!”
Are there any musicians that you really admire?
“Of course, Tori Kelly, she’s one of my biggest. Vocally she is one of the top five for me. Billie Eilish, I love her. She’s really inspired me in being able to create music at home. Her entire album that she was nominated for six Grammys and five of the six songs, she created from home. Also choirs like Ricky Dillard, Richard Smallwood. That inspires me too. So many genres inspire me.”
What advice would you give to young people looking to get into the music industry?
“Just seeing how successful Billie Eilish is and that you don’t need all these bells and whistles to create impactful music. It struck a chord with me. With this industry I used to think that you need all these record labels to push you out when truly all you need is a laptop, a speaker and mic and some drive. If you have those, then you’ve got something.”
What is the best advice you received when you started this musical journey?
“I think it came from my mom. She said this is your journey and you’re still growing and your journey is not going to be the same as someone else’s journey. Everyone’s journey is individualized to their story. I am blessed to know a lot of people who have been successful in the industry. Some people think they’re never going to get there or never be good enough. But no, if you have the determination and you have the grit and you have the drive to do that, then your time will come and she really assured me that your time is coming. You’re only 17 Christian so you have time to learn who you are and perfect your craft for when the world is ready to hear you.”
How does your faith inform what you do?
“I have had some troubles. I was going through some really hard times in elementary and middle school. I was like I don’t understand why I’m going through this, why people are being so rude and mean. Kids can be nasty. Lord, I’m so nice to people and I’m trying to do everything I can why in the world is so rude to me? My mother was like Christian you are going to go through hard things because you are so special and God has put an anointing on you and giving you this gift to be able to share with the world. You are so different that you are going to have a hard time in this world. You’re going to face challenges because you are so special and because you’re meant for something greater and you are meant to be a light in this dark world. You are meant to be this amazing person who inspires love and happiness to people. With God, I just have to make sure that I talk to him and say ‘how are you, checking up on you’. I keep him updated on what I’m doing and I make sure that I keep my relationship with him good.”
Christian is currently a junior at Bishop McNamara High School but he’s already thinking about what’s next.
“I want to go to college, of course. I’m excited for college. I looked at a bunch of music colleges because I want to pursue this full time because this is my passion. This is what I want to do with my life. I want to continue with this music and continue releasing songs. “Change” was so big I didn’t want to put anything out, because I wanted “Change” to stand out because I wanted people to understand the message. It wasn’t about the likes, it wasn’t about the streams and any of that. It was about people hearing the message that we truly need change in our world. But this year, I plan on releasing more music and I plan on releasing songs, maybe even an EP or album.”
In a world filled with uncertainly, Christian Inman seems to have come to terms with the fact that music will be his lifeworks and along with a melody, his songs will carry messages that the world needs to hear. If “Change” is any indication of what lies ahead, listeners will be in for a beautiful musical ride.
Listen to Change:
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