Aussie pop sensation Cody Simpsons opens up about his life, his dreams, his music and his passions in "Welcome to Paradise: My Journey." Here's an excerpt.
Welcomt to Paradise
I stand behind the heavy curtain, waiting. The energy of the crowd is palpable in the air. The O2 Arena in London is swelling with nearly 20,000 fans. This is going to be the biggest concert of my life! And I can’t wait to get out onstage and give them all I have. I wait to take the stage, and think about how far I am from my beach-town roots in Australia. I am halfway around the world and about to perform in front of a huge crowd. I roll up onto the balls of my feet, adrenaline just surging through every cell in my body. It’s nearly time!
I hear the music starting, my cue. It’s my last moment of calm before the storm. I turn to my security guard Jeff and we do our handshake, like always, before I go out onstage. I take a few steps and feel the heat of the bright lights and the power of the audience’s screams.
“It’s such an honor to be here this evening! I want to thank my mate Justin Bieber for having me here in London. And I want to thank all these beautiful fans for coming out tonight. Before I get started, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Cody Simpson.”
I have always dreamed big, but I never grew up dream- ing of being a pop star. Instead, my sights were set on achiev- ing the highest honors in competitive swimming – Olympic gold medals.
My love of the water began when I was just a few years old when my parents started taking me to swimming pools and the beach. I started swimming competitively at the age of nine and I had a natural ability, even though I was smaller and scrawnier than the other kids. I was clearly the underdog, but I worked the hardest at our practices and when I went to my first competition with my local swimming club, Miami Swimming Club, I won every race. That feeling of winning after training so hard was imprinted on me from that day on. I knew anything was possible if you worked hard enough for it.
That underdog mentality has fueled me. I never lost that drive. And eventually I even made it to the Australian Schools Swimming Nationals and won most of my events. I like to push myself to achieve new goals. I set high standards for myself. Working hard just feels natural to me. I don’t know how to not be the way I am. Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve wanted to be something extraordinary. I was never content with coming in second in a race, or not trying my best. I’m still not. I always push myself to the limit.
Music came to me just as naturally as swimming. My parents introduced me to music early on. Around the house or at family gatherings, my family and friends regularly pulled out guitars and sang along to the classic country songs by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. I loved to sit with them and feel a part of the music, even before I knew how to play guitar.
Now I’m on this incredible journey. I’ve already come a long way – from the beaches of Australia to the bright lights of Hollywood – and I have a shot to leave my mark on the music world. This book is a look back at my journey here, from the beginning. Like any meaningful achievement, getting to this point came with a lot of sacrifices and a lot of tough choices. I also know that I have worked long and hard to get here. And that might be the best feeling there is: to put in the work and see it pay off when you start achieving your goals.
People always ask: would you rather have a gold medal or a platinum record? My answer is the platinum record. Both require tremendous work and great risk – but, honestly, you can’t share a gold medal. My music is for everyone who has taken this journey with me.
You, the fans, have been there for me every step of the way, and now it’s my turn to give something back to you. I want my fans to understand me and my story. As an artist, it’s hard to show people all of the different parts that make you who you really are. This is my chance to lift the curtain and invite all of you inside my world, to see my journey and the choices that led me here – to paradise.
Excerpted from WELCOME TO PARADISE: MY JOURNEY by Cody Simpson. Copyright © 2013 by Cody Simpson. Excerpted by permission of Harper, a division of HarperCollins Publishers . All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.