X-Factor The Band British judge and leading singer-songwriter Lil Eddie Serrano shares his story as a former homeless youth
If there is one lesson to be learned from Edwin Serrano’s story, it is that talent and the drive to succeed can take you anywhere.
On this week’s episode of LA Weekly The weekly podcast, the singer, songwriter and producer sits down for a conversation about his journey from growing up homeless in New York to producing for some of the biggest names in the industry.
“It’s a blessing,” says Edwin, who goes through Lil Eddie professionally, of his career. “It was definitely a long journey to [this] kind of success.
Lil Eddie has worked with Usher, Janet Jackson, Pink, Nelly Furtado, and Paula Abdul to name a few. He also developed and helped form the largest Fifth Harmony and Latin music boy group CNCO, which earned him a senior A&R position for Syco / Sony Music in 2019.
“I’m only scratching the surface of what the ultimate goal is for me,” he shares.
Although he has reached incredible heights in his professional life and continues to climb, he has had to overcome significant challenges and lows to get to where he is today.
Born in Brooklyn, he lived very early on a traumatic fire that left him and his family homeless for five years. With no other family to turn to – his father was a “New York gangster” and his mother was rejected to stay with him – they had to fight to survive on the city streets.
“I was in fact homeless. Living in shelters, living in cars, living on the streets. I remember eating in the street, waiting until 12 noon for restaurants to close and eating out of garbage bags… yeah, it was a difficult life, ”says the resilient artist. “Then we moved to Spanish Harlem, then there was this audition to join this choir called the New York Boys Choir.
His brother joined him, and it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Lil Eddie. He followed his older brother into the group and realized that singing, acting, was his passion.
“In this choir, I have to do amazing things, like singing for the Pope and singing for the Billboard Awards… all of these amazing things,” he says. “Being in the choir was like opening Pandora’s box… no matter how far I came to nothing, it made me want to want to want more. I started to see the world and realized that there was more than the four walls that I felt trapped in.
This desire to want more, and his prestigious position in the choir, is what ultimately led him to his musical career today. Ambitious at heart, Lil Eddie graduated from high school at age 15, started college the same year, and was signed at a young age. His professional work took him to Japan, where he had a No.1 album, and on tour across Germany. Traveling for work has put things in perspective for the young star.
“It helped me realize that there is so much more than America itself and the release of music in America, there is a whole world of currency and livelihood, and ways you can earn. your life making music, ”he says. “We are architects, more than just singers and songwriters, we are creators and we can do a lot more than just write a song or sing a song.”
He had some help along the way, as his talent got him noticed by big wigs in the industry like Sean Combs (Diddy) himself, who would go on to become Lil Eddie’s mentor.
“Diddy has been very, very instrumental in my career, because when I was young he really tested me and on the spot,” says Lil Eddie. “It was so deep. Still giving advice, the artist thanks the famous producer for keeping his head in the game.
For Lil Eddie, music is more than just a game, it’s the blood of his life.
“I always tell people that I feel like music has found me,” he shares. “My music is heart music. It is the music of the heart… what I feel, what I have lived.
From tackling homelessness to the workplace alongside Simon Cowell, listen to this week’s episode to be inspired. Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Cumulus Los Angeles or wherever you get your podcasts.