When Rihanna graced the 2013 Grammy Awards stage on Sunday (February 10) night, she performed alongside Sting and Bruno Mars, but there’s a less familiar face who joined the pop star. Louisiana-born singer-songwriter/producer Mikky Ekko gained some notoriety for his duet with Rih on the Unapologetic single “Stay,” and after their performance, fans now have a face to put with that name.
Ekko, born John Stephen Sudduth, recently signed to RCA records and he’s been creating quite the buzz with his soulful, blues-tinged tunes. He cites his parents’ church involvement as an early musical influence (his dad was a preacher), but he got started by penning songs for other artists and eventually decided to pursue a career in singing, while residing in Nashville. In 2010 he shared his first solo material online, including the song “Who Are You, Really?” catching the ear of producer Clams Casino, whose hypnotic beats were a staple on A$AP Rocky’s breakout 2011 mixtape Live.Love.A$AP.
The two creatives spent some time working together, and last July, Ekko released his first official single “We Must Be Killers” via YouTube before being featured on the “Teen Wolf” soundtrack. “Feels Like the End” followed in September, and his current single is “Pull Me Down,” a haunting and addictive pop ballad co-produced by Clams Casino.
Ekko caught an extra big break last year when he received a phone call informing him that Rihanna had heard a track he penned called “Stay,” and was interested in featuring it on her Unapologetic album. At first he thought it was a joke, but fast forward a few months and the single has landed him his first appearance on the pop charts.
“Still no one knows how Rihanna heard the song,” Ekko told Wonderland Magazine. “She did, though, and here we are a few months later. I met her in L.A. and we spoke for a little while. Her schedule is insane! I thought I was busy, and the whole experience has put a lot of things in perspective. I gained some serious respect for her work ethic. I mean, seven albums in seven years? Who does that?”
Earlier this week, just a few days before the Grammys, Ekko released a second music video for “Pull Me Down” and he’s currently working on his debut album.