Most 16 year olds are excited to start driving a car or go on a first date.
But Brooklyn-born musician Laivy Miller, 16, has set his sights higher and he’s already established a career in music.
Of course, it helps that Miller is the son of Matisyahu, the popular Jewish musician who made a name for himself in the early 2000s as a Hasidic reggae band.
But the family bond means that the expectations the teenager faces are exorbitant.
Still, following in a parent’s footsteps can be a challenge – for both generations. How does a famous father encourage a son who wants to start the family business, without putting him under pressure?
“With Laivy, I was always very subtle with it – but it’s part of who he is, so it was only a matter of time,” Matisyahu said. New York Jewish Week.
“He played me something and I was like, ‘Wow!’ He always had a strong voice, but I noticed a certain tone in his voice.
The teenager – who professionally goes by the single name Laivy – released his first single last week, The beauty and the Beast. The song is about his first love experience and feeling like he was too young to be in a relationship.
Miller said his family supported his budding music career. He said his mother taught him to “always stay true to yourself and remember where you came from even when people put you down”.
Likewise, he said the biggest lesson he learned from his father was to “never let anyone trying to put you down affect your passion or your growth.”
Matisyahu became a follower of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement and performed his reggae-inspired songs in the full beard and black garb of an Orthodox Charedi Jew.
He eventually left Hasidism and when he shaved off his beard he was covered by MTV and rolling stone. Some fans felt betrayed by his religious about-face; others felt that artists should be judged on their music, not their clothing or religious choices.
As for Miller, he said people may have their own definitions of what it means to be religious and everyone has their own journey.
“I personally keep Shabbos – every Shabbos,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s people who are religious. I think it’s about people’s belief in Hashem and being spiritual. To see religious or non-religious people connecting to my music, or finding Hashem more, or finding themselves, that’s what’s really important.
In that very first interview with the press, Miller conceded that it was only natural for people to compare him to his father. He says he also knows there can be criticism, but he knows it’s part of the business.
“I am my own artist, I have my own music.”
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