Photo by: Johnny Nunez/ Getty Images“Marcus Canty, the 20-year old finalist of THE X FACTOR from Bowie, Maryland, first started singing to TV commercials when he was about seven years old. He was that kid who could recite all the jingles by heart, and especially remembered singing to the commercial of the classic TV show In the Heat of the Night.
“I remember one time we were watching TV in the living room and when the commercials came on my cousin played a joke, to cut the sound off and said, all right Marcus, you do all the commercials. It was hilarious. I’ll never forget that,”” recalls Marcus in remembering his earliest musical inspirations.
Marcus grew up in a church and gospel music quickly ignited his passion for music. His single mom would play gospel music every Sunday morning and he would run around with his cousins singing as they got ready for church. “My mom and my aunt always sang in the choir praise and worship team. It was a joy every Sunday, but I fell in love with R&B when I was about 12,” he says. “I grew up in the church so obviously I try to sing a lot more gospel when I performed, but in my heart, I just felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to sing. Gospel comes from a different place and you gotta be there in order to sing it. I fell in love with R&B.”
The artist that turned Marcus to R&B was none other than the legendary Stevie Wonder. “My first man was Stevie,”” he says. “”He was what made me fall in love with music. My grandma used to play a lot of old-school music. She was more of an Al Green, Marvin Gaye, but I was more of a Stevie, Teddy Pendegrass, and Luther Vandross. Those were the artists that I loved, so that’s when I fell in love with R&B.”
Despite all the singing around the house, music wasn’t his first love. For years, Marcus had his hopes on being a basketball player, but once he figured out that he wasn’t going to be 6’9,” he decided that music was going to be his path. His first performance was with a production company that introduced him to the Apollo Theater. “The Apollo crowd is tough. I was a young, little 11-year-old singing a Yolanda Adams songs and it was ridiculous for a little 11-year-old to be singing like that. I went onstage. I wasn’t afraid. I sang my song, I got a standing ovation, and I got second place that time,” says Marcus, who won second place at one Apollo performance.
Throughout high school, he continued to perform and even opened for some artists that came to town, like Bow Wow, B5, and rapper Hurricane Chris. He also auditioned for season seven of American Idol. “”I made it to the auditions in front of the judges and I didn’t make it past them,”” he says. “I also did some events out there, but still something wasn’t clicking,” he says. “And it’s all about timing.” Well, his timing was spot-on when he heard about THE X FACTOR and decided to audition. With the support of his mother who has always encouraged him, Marcus did just that.
The rest, as they say, is history.”