Lincolnton High School graduate Eddie Rosa felt called to be a musician at the young age of 6.
He couldn’t resist grabbing the mic and performing songs with his brother inside their eastern Lincoln County home when he was little.
Rosa, known more commonly by friends and family as “Lil’ Edd,” would spend hours each day on the PlayStation game “Def Jam: Rock the Mike,” which his mother bought for him, he said.
At the time, the now 19-year-old’s biggest inspiration was rapper/singer “Lil’ Bow Wow,” who has since dropped his “Lil’” title.
After attending the budding child musician’s concert in Charlotte for his 6th birthday, Rosa — half Puerto Rican/half African-American — knew he, too, could be a famous singer and follow in “Bow Wow’s” footsteps.
“I thought if he could be famous, I could too,” Rosa said.
After moving to Boger City during his middle school years, the music lover began evolving and maturing in his writing, composing lyric after lyric and song after song about a failed relationship and former girlfriend.
“I was so in love with her,” he said. “I made so many songs about her.”
Rosa used a program called “Mix Craft” to create the personal tunes.
With the program, he recorded songs to the computer through a microphone, he said.
While the final products’ quality proved amateur, he still praised the program for giving him the experience he needed to cultivate his passion.
After Rosa’s mother bought him a USB microphone for the computer, he soon produced and recorded better-quality tracks, including the song “Black Hole,” which received air play across his high school sound system certain Friday afternoons.
The song even hit fellow students’ ears during warm-up sessions at more than one Wolves basketball game, he said.
Rosa later wrote the song “Friends” during his senior year, opting to also film a video for the tune with a local director, Lincolnton resident Justin Almanzar, whom the teen found on Facebook.
A month after the video posted to YouTube, it secured 21,000 views.
A company named Fullscreen contacted Rosa last year, seeking a YouTube partnership with the teen, after learning about the video and others that he had created, including “Started From the Bottom,” a cover of a song by Grammy Award-winning recording artist Drake.
The deal allowed him to receive payment for each new person who subscribed to his online video page.
The success of his videos soon prompted the local musician to sign up for a Twitter account to see just how many people within his hometown and beyond favored his work.
“What’s making music without fans?” he said.
He has also received scores of letters from followers based in London, Toronto and throughout the country.
While Rosa has since pulled away from some of his childhood friends in order to focus more on his budding career and less on the negative criticism some of them have offered, he said, he remains committed and true to those who both understand his true calling and provide positive feedback.
In order to showcase his true appreciation for the 16,000 fan followers he boasted at the time on Twitter, Rosa sent out a mass message, letting fans know that if his account reached 19,000 followers, he would, in turn, follow all of their accounts.
It only took a month for his number of followers to skyrocket — now escalating toward 40,000, he said.
While Rosa has been offered an independent record deal, he has chosen to forgo the opportunity and continue pursuing and making music on his own.
Adhering to a company’s contract rules is the last thing Rosa wants to do.
“I can do it myself,” he said of growing his career.
With the help of his brother, who takes Rosa’s pictures, the singer/songwriter also promotes himself through Instagram.
In pursuit of his life-long dream to not only meet and collaborate with Drake but also perform as the main act on a nationwide tour, Rosa has stayed true to his Christian faith.
He offered a special prayer to God, he said, prior to delving more deeply into the business last year.
“I said, ‘God, I want to live the life You want for me,’” Rosa said.
Even if that meant living without music, the teen promised to obey and follow God in whatever future venture He had for him.
Because of the overwhelming success he’s experienced in just the year-and-a-half since graduating, Rosa has no doubt God is drawing him more and more into the industry and revealing His will to him.
“That’s how I know dreams come true,” Rosa said. “I’m gonna make it.”
Even when he caught himself slipping in his faith one day while obsessing over online followers and become self-absorbed, he tweeted a message asking God for forgiveness in not staying true to his prayer.
Because his mother wanted him to attend college immediately after high school, Rosa promised her his music ventures would pay off by 2014 — the year he has determined he will “make it big” in the business, he said.
And college is still an option for him, with possible plans to enroll as early as next year at Full Sail University.
The Florida-based school prepares individuals for careers in media and entertainment.
In the meantime, he spends his time working weekdays at Christian Ministry in Lincolnton, washing dishes and serving meals in the soup kitchen.
He considers his time at the facility to be a blessing, working for the community and alongside soup kitchen Manager Jackie Casey, a woman he feels honored to assist.
“I love Jackie, and I love to help her,” he said.
After work each day, he spends time at home completing his next project — a mix tape, which he hopes to follow up with an extended-play (EP) album.
Rosa is also planning to write an R&B hit for iTunes in the near future.
However, perhaps the most exciting event on his calendar is the Queen City Awards, set for Jan. 10.
Rosa was nominated this year in the category of “New Artist of the Year” and feels assured he has a good chance at taking home the award.
When Rosa’s not doling out meals to hungry residents or brainstorming his next beat, he uses his time and growing popularity to counsel others, particularly young women struggling with issues involving physical abuse, suicide or other relational strife, he said.
While he understands that criticism is a part of life and will always occur, famous or not, he works to maintain a healthy self-image for both himself and his fans.
“I’m so confident,” he said, “that I don’t care what anyone says about me.”
For more information on Eddie Rosa, visit twitter.com/therealliledd, youtube.com/lileddmusic or soundcloud.com/lileddmusic.