You can thank Jack Black for the career (and inescapable pop superstardom) of singer-musician Francesco Yates.

The engaging 20-year-old (with the voluminous fro and teen idol gaze) explains it was watching the 2003 comedy film School of Rock — in which actor Black portrays a wacky teacher of a ragtag crew of private school kids that he transforms into a rock band — when it dawned on him that music was something that he wanted to do full-time. “I always wanted to sing,” Yates tells HOLR. Watching the film was when it all clicked, he recalls. At age 11, he asked his parents to enrol him in music camp, where he got his initial sampling of what it’s like to play and sing in front of a live audience. “It’s just a passion I’ve never run away from.” It was this desire that led him to continue writing songs and form a band in high school, quickly get a manager (Chris Smith, who has also managed Nelly Furtado) and score a record deal at the tender age of 16. Indeed, the Toronto-born singer-songwriter and musician with his velvety vocals and confident demeanour has already accomplished a lot in a short span. Justin Timberlake himself has given Yates a co-sign on Twitter. And with the fall release his self-titled debut EP, a six-track project that was co-produced by big names such as Robin Hannibal and super producer/singer Pharrell Williams, Yates is ready for fame.

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