At just 24 years old, Ottawa’s Matt Boutros has made an impressive start to his musical career. Boutros is a talented singer, musician, and artist. His passion for music began as early as grade 4, when he started playing the piano, all by self-teaching. With constant and enduring support from his mother and family, he dove into music throughout high school. At the height of his teen years, when he was just 19 years old, Matt was a contestant on The Shot, a talent discovery web series. With his powerful and dynamic vocals, Matt flew through the contest to win Season 4, taking home a cash prize of $25,000 and a new, growing fan base.
Five years later, the musician has continued to make original and cover music for his fans while working on a first album. We caught up with the Ottawa-born artist to discuss his journey to music, his upcoming album, and his best advice for aspiring artists.
Tell us about your childhood. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ottawa, and grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. Growing up was difficult at times. I was one of the only gay kids in school, and I was bullied for years for being different. But I never changed who I was; in fact, this only fuelled the fire to be even more outrageous.
When did you realize you wanted to be a singer?
I first discovered my passion for singing and performing when I was in elementary school, grade 4. My school had a singing competition and I auditioned.
What inspired you to become a singer?
I come from a very musical family. Music has always been a part of everyday life. My granny played at least a dozen different instruments, she was a singer. My uncle followed in her footsteps. He too was multitalented and a huge inspiration to me. Being exposed to so much incredible talent within my own family, ignited my love and passion for music.
Who is your biggest music inspiration?
Growing up I was always fascinated with the greats, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney, Aretha, etc. I could listen to them for hours every day. I studied their voices and was obsessed with replicating specific riffs and inflections. Today, artists like Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, John Legend, Shawn Mendes, and Billie Eilish also inspire me.
How was your experience on ‘The Shot’? What did it feel like to give the winning performance?
Winning The Shot Season 4 was an amazing experience. Competing against singers from across Canada was a really great opportunity. I met so many amazing people, and I learned so much about myself as a performer.
Winning the shot was a surreal experience unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I’ve competed in so many different local competitions in Ottawa and only came close to winning. Competing in that competition with so many incredibly talented singers from across Canada is one of my fondest memories. For my winning performance in the semi-finals, I sang ‘Tiny Dancer’ by Elton John. That put me into the finals, where I sang ‘Somebody to Love’ by Queen.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
I got a taste for the ugliness of the music industry very early on in my artistry. I overcame these challenges by taking a step back, maturing, and realizing that if I want this bad enough, I must persevere. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Tell us about your upcoming album that you are going to release. How long did it take you to put it all together? What can we expect from it?
I’ve been working on this album, on and off, for the last five years! I want this album to be an experience… a snapshot into my life. I want people to relate to it. This album will speak to anyone who has experienced love, loss, and everything in between.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
My favourite song to perform live is “Made of Stone” by Matt Corby. It’s an incredible piano ballad that I absolutely love playing.
Who is your biggest supporter? How have they helped you throughout your career?
My #1 supporter from day one has always been my mother. There has never been a time when she has not pushed me or encouraged me to be whoever I want to be in this life.
How do you stay focused and motivated?
I stay focused and motivated by playing my piano daily. It centers me and helps me stay focused and grounded.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
One of my most amazing mentors was Nadia Mazzarolo. She was my vocal coach when I lived in Kitchener, Ontario. She helped me realize that the most important thing in my music career is to always stay true to myself and to never change who I am. This was the best advice I’ve received.
What is your best advice for aspiring artists?
The best advice I can offer to any aspiring young artist is to never give up on your dreams, even when they feel unattainable, and ALWAYS be yourself. Never be afraid to be different. That will set you apart from the rest!