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Isbell ’17 to sing in Austin during South By Southwest

Isbell, Scott

Scott Isbell '17 is an aspiring pop singer and will perform with several artists associated with the Wu-Tang Clan at the South By Southwest Festival on March 21. (Courtesy Photo)

An aspiring pop singer from Emerson will perform at a venue near the popular South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin on Saturday, March 21, alongside several well known hip-hop artists associated with the Wu-Tang Clan.

Scott Isbell ’17 is a Marketing Communication major who sang in the USA’s Most Talented Kids competition at age 12 and by age 16 was an actor on the Emmy Award-winning PBS show Aqua Kids.

“I got my foot in the door with acting, but my passion is definitely music,” said Isbell, who is from Acton, Massachusetts. “I have ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] and have dealt with learning challenges since elementary school, so the arts has been one place where I’m able to excel and express myself.”

With more than 128,000 followers on Twitter, Isbell said he is pursuing a Marketing Communication degree because “everything I’ve accomplished in music is because of my own marketing.”

“You have to really know how to work things online, especially with social media,” he said. “If you don’t have a good presence online, you won’t make it as an artist. Period.”

Fellow student Brendan Riel ’16, a Visual and Media Arts major, has helped Isbell with branding, image, and fashion.

“I’ve found Emerson to be really accommodating,” Isbell said. “My teachers are really understanding. I’m trying to take my music and my studies seriously. As long as you keep up with your studies, the teachers are going to be accommodating.”

Isbell, Scott

Scott Isbell '17 performing. (Courtesy Photo)

Isbell, whose influences include Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Elvis Presley, said his largest fan base is teenage girls—but said there’s a growing number of teenage boys—and that most of his new fans find him on Instagram, where he posts pictures daily.

“Even though I have more followers on Twitter…I’ve found more success on Instagram,” he said.

Isbell works with vocal coach Jaime Vendera, known for his work with the band Journey and appearing on the television show Myth Busters, in which he shatters glass using only his voice.

Scott Isbel in Boylston Place

Scott Isbell '17 poses for photos outside the Tufte Performance and Production Center in Boylston Place on March 18. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

Isbell’s talent manager is Jimmy Kang, vice president of Wu-Tang Management, a management company for up-and-coming artists facilitated by the legendary hip-hop group. Isbell said the company has recently expanded into representing non-hip-hop acts such as himself.

Kang first discovered Isbell when Isbell was singing at a nightclub in Worcester, Massachusetts. Since they began working together, Isbell has performed at Disney World, Hard Rock Cafes, the MGM Grand, and Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

Isbell took a break from classes last semester to perform with Wu-Tang’s Cappadonna; Young Dirty Bastard (son of the late performer Ol’ Dirty Bastard); and Spliff Star, a rapper associated with Busta Rhymes.

“I’ve never performed at a festival before, so I’m definitely a little nervous,” Isbell said of SXSW.

Isbell is one of several Wu-Tang Management artists set to perform at the Nook Amphitheater on March 21, including rapper Cappadonna. 

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