Justin Nozuka

Ben Harper fans will dig Nozuka's guitar-driven "acoustic soul."
Shinsuke Shikawa

New York-born, Toronto-raised singer/songwriter Justin Nozuka boasts an entertainment-world pedigree that will perhaps forever haunt him in blurbs such as this one. His mother, Holly Sedgwick, is sister of actress Kyra — which makes Kevin Bacon his uncle and Edie Sedgwick a cousin. One brother, Phillip, is an actor, and another brother, George, is an R&B singer. So it's no surprise that as a kid, Justin dabbled in musical theater at various high-profile performing-arts schools. But, in love with classic soulful sounds from an early age, Nozuka knew music was his true passion. "I think I was about 15 or so when I decided I was going to pursue music and I was going to quit everything else," says Nozuka, now 20.

Starting out on a more traditional R&B route, Nozuka worked with a series of producers — until he discovered Ben Harper. "I really looked up to him at the time and saw how he handled his career, compared to how the R&B cats handled their careers," he says. "I just wanted to do my thing and just be me." Indeed, Harper fans will dig Nozuka's guitar-driven "acoustic soul," built on feel-good melodies with real vocal chops behind them. And while many songs are understandably autobiographical, Nozuka also possesses a mature flair for narrative. Songs such as "Down in a Cold Dirty Well" and "Criminal" take unexpected darker turns, sung from the shadier corners of Nozuka's sunny musical world.

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