Born in 1994 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, to a single mother, Justin Bieber took second place in a local talent competition at a young age and later turned into a YouTube phenomenon. He signed a record contract with Usher and became the first solo artist to have four singles enter the Top 40 before the release of a debut album. His album My World has gone platinum in several countries, though he later experienced a ton of media exposure resulting from offensive activity. He nonetheless made his comeback in 2015 with his first No. 1 song, “What Do You Mean?”
Born on March 1, 1994, in the small town of Stratford, Ontario, Canada, Justin Bieber was raised by a single mom. Bieber, whose debut album, My World, hit stores in November 2009, is a true overnight success, having gone from an unknown, untrained singer whose mother posted YouTube clips of her boy performing, to a budding superstar with a big-time record deal, all in just two years.
Bieber always had an interest in music. His mother gave him a drum kit for his second birthday and, as he tells it, he was “basically banging on everything I could get my hands on.”
But it was an obscure talent contest in his hometown, in which the 12-year-old Bieber finished second that put him on the road to superstardom. As a way to share his singing with family, Justin and his mom began posting clips of Bieber performing covers of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo on YouTube.
Within months, Justin was an Internet sensation, with a large following of fans and an eager manager arranging for the teenager to fly to Atlanta to consider a record deal. There, Bieber had a chance meeting with Usher, who eventually signed the young singer to a contract.
Hit Album: ‘My World’
Bieber’s first single, “One Time,” went certified platinum in his native Canada shortly after its release in May 2009. His album My World matched that success, selling more than 137,000 copies within a week of hitting stores. Bieber broke into the Billboard Top 10 in early 2010 with “Baby,” which also featured rapper Ludacris. Bieber soon released My World 2.0 (2010), which offered his growing fan base ten new songs.
In 2011, Bieber took to the big screen in the concert documentary Never Say Never. His fans crowded movie theaters to catch him in action on stage and get a glimpse of his life behind the scenes. The movie, which eventually earned more than $73 million at the box office, also had guest appearances by Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and Bieber’s musical mentor Usher. That same year, Bieber released an album featuring his own take on such holiday classics as “All I Want For Christmas Is,” his duet with Mariah Carey.
Bieber had another hit single in April 2012 with “Boyfriend,” which appeared on his album Believe.
While still only in his teens, Bieber survived his first public scandal. A woman filed suit against Bieber in 2011, claiming that he was the father of her child. But a DNA test proved that the young pop star was not the father and the woman dropped her lawsuit. Bieber sang about the scandal in the song “Maria.”
That was only the beginning of a string of scandals, bad behavior and unfavorable press for the young pop artist, though he did manage to have another Top 10 hit with the party anthem “Beauty and a Beat,” featuring Nicki Minaj. In March 2013, Bieber’s neighbor accused the singer of spitting on him, in addition to making threatening comments. Two months later, denizens of Bieber’s neighborhood in Calabasas, California, complained about that he was driving too fast in a residential area.
On April 15, 2013, Bieber visited a museum in Amsterdam that paid tribute to Anne Frank. Upon writing that the young journalist “would have been a Belieber,” he faced more backlash from the public. On July 9, 2013, his image was scrutinized once again after he was recorded urinating in a janitor’s bucket and yelling “F— Bill Clinton,” holding a photo of the former president. Although he later apologized, his previously squeaky clean image began to tarnish even more.
On January 14, 2014, Bieber’s home in California was searched after he was accused of egging a neighbor’s house. Nine days later, Bieber was arrested for suspicion of drag racing and driving under the influence. After a Breathalyzer test showed that Bieber wasn’t sober, he was taken into custody where he stayed until he posted bail, which was set at $2,500. The charges however were reduced to only resisting arrest.
First No. 1 Single and Grammy
After being featured in a prominent Calvin Klein ad, Bieber was able to make a big comeback in 2015, nailing a summer Top 10 hit with the Diplo and Skrillex collaboration “Where Are Ü Now.” Then in October, Bieber landed his first No. 1 single with “What Do You Mean?,” with both tracks helmed by R&B songwriter Poo Bear. The following year, Bieber landed his first Grammy, winning for “Where Are Ü Now” in the category of Best Dance Recording.
Teen idol Justin Bieber broke the hearts of many of his young female fans in 2010 when he started dating television actress and singer Selena Gomez. It wasn’t easy for Gomez to be Bieber’s girlfriend, as she was accosted by some of his devoted followers. There were even death threats posted against her on Twitter after the pair was photographed kissing while on a 2011 vacation. The couple ended their relationship in November 2012.