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10 Musicians Who Found Fame Later In Life

Culture November 28, 2017 By Hugo

You don't always need to be the new Justin Beiber to make it big in the music world- just ask these 10 artists.

Famed for their world-conquering ballads and impressive virtuosity, their talent and motivation proved that age really is just a number in an industry synonymous with youth. Here are 10 chart-topping musicians who found fame later in life.

1. Sam Hunt

As well as his natural good looks and brooding southern voice, Sam Hunt is also a multi-instrumentalist, though his natural flair for music came later in life. Growing up in a small town in Georgia, Hunt, like most southern kids, was raised on football, a sport he excelled at, which led him to win a place on the Middle Tennessee State University team.

Shutterstock/ Debby Wong

However, it was at college that Hunt discovered his love of music, and after picking up a guitar, he started writing lyrics, most of which were inspired by his now-wife Hannah Lee Fowler, whom he met at college. 

But after an unsuccessful foray into the NFL (he attended a summer training camp with Kansas City Chiefs) Hunt packed up his bags at 24 and headed to Nashville in the hopes of making it as a recording artist, with just "some food and two mattresses and [...] his mom's minivan" to his name. 

But it would pay off, as 4 years later, Hunt was writing songs for country artists like Kenney Chesney, and after releasing a well-received mixtape, Hunt won a recording contract in 2014, at the ripe old age of 30.

2. Sheryl Crow

Everyone's favorite female country artist recently released a new album after many fans wondered if she was even alive, such was her idleness in recent years. Not that Crow needs to release new music to stay relevant or wealthy. She's achieved everything there is, and it all started for Crow after she left her teaching job! 

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Crow taught music at Kellison Elementary School in Missouri until the age of 24, before she quit her life in St.Louis and headed to Los Angeles. She would soon find work as a back-up singer, most notably for Michael Jackson's "Bad" tour, though she did land a few lucrative tv commercials as well, recording jingles for the likes of McDonald's who paid her a whopping $40,000.

Yet it would be five years down the line, just one year shy of her 30th birthday, before Crow finally landed herself a record deal with A&M Records.

3. 2 Chainz

The rapper 2 Chainz is by no means everyone's cup of tea, but he's done well for himself and established a loyal fanbase, and his success came shortly after changing his stage name!

Shutterstock/ Jamie LamorThomspon

For years, the hitmaker went by the name "Tity Boi", but after changing it to "2 Chainz", he released a well-received mixtape, which eventually shot straight to the top of the Billboard 200- a month after turning 36.

4. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen's artistic talents initially drew him to fiction writing, but after failing to make literary waves, Cohen turned to music and released his first album at 33.

Shutterstock/ Route66

That said, his albums didn't achieve mainstream success for another 17 years until “Hallelujah”- which has been covered to death by over 200 artists- was released.

5. Andrea Bocelli

While he may not be known in the world of mainstream pop music, the world-renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli is one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Shutterstock/Zoran Karapancev

Though his talents didn't bring him overnight success. In fact, it wasn't until his 34th birthday that he achieved worldwide success, with his third album Songo cracking the top 10 charts in 10 countries.

6. Charles Bradley 

The late soul singer held down a plethora of jobs in his lifetime, ranging for a cook in a psychiatric hospital in Maine to performing as a James Brown tribute artist before he was finally offered a career in music at the age of 62.

Shutterstock/ Rene Oonk

Sadly, his career was short-lived, as he died this year of stomach cancer at the age of 68. Yet in the words of the man himself, "“It took 62 years for somebody to find me but I thank God. Some people never get found.”

7. Bill Withers 

One of America's greatest soul singers served nine years of his life in the navy and factory assembly lines before his debut album with the smash hit, “Ain’t No Sunshine” was released.

Shutterstock/ Kathy Hutchins

Withers was 32 at the time of its release, and thanks to its immense success, he managed to forge a successful and lucrative career in music.

8. Blondie 

One way or another, Blondie was always going to break into the music industry, despite the band still not being signed by the time their lead singer had turned 30. 

Shutterstock/ JStone

However, the face of the band, Debbie Harry, soldiered on with her bandmates and by her 31st birthday, had landed the band a record deal. However, it would be another couple of years before they achieved worldwide success.

9. James Murphy

At 31, most musicians have either given up on their dreams or are reaping the rewards of their record deals, but when James Murphy turned 31, he was only just getting started when he decided to form a band called LCD Soundsystem.

Christian Bertrand/ Shutterstock

But it was a decision that paid off, because not long after their formation, they soon attracted the attention of industry executives, though it would be their third album, aptly titled, This Is Happening, that would garner them worldwide success.

10. Rachel Platten

After Taylor Swift posted an Instagram video of herself dancing to Rachel Platten's song “Fight Song" at a festival in 2015, it was soon played on every radio station in America and even went  2x Platinum in Australia.

Shutterstock/ Kathy Hutchins

Remarkably, Platten (not that she looks it) was 34 when Swift noticed her talents, though she had released three mixtapes before Columbia Records finally signed her in 2015. 


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