12-year-old who went viral with 'I Just Wanna Live' song signed to record deal

Keedron Bryant released a studio single version of the song with Warner Records, and proceeds will benefit the NAACP.
According to a press release from Warner Records, the Florida-native will perform “I Just Wanna Live” tonight on ABC’s 8 p.m. “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming.”
According to a press release from Warner Records, the Florida-native will perform “I Just Wanna Live” tonight on ABC’s 8 p.m. “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming.” TODAY

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/ Source: TODAY
By Christopher Cicchiello

The now-viral video of 12-year-old Keedron Bryant performing a passion-filled original a cappella song addressing social injustices has just landed the gospel singer a record deal with Warner Records.

Keedron, who was featured on NBC's "Little Big Shots," released the song titled “I Just Wanna Live” Friday on Juneteenth — a national commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“I’m a young Black man/ doing all that I can/ to stand,” Keedron sings in the video. “Oh, but when I look around/ and I see what’s being done to my kind/ every day, I’m being hunted as prey.”

On May 26, the day following the killing of George Floyd, Keedron posted a video on Instagram of him singing about being young and Black in America. The song, penned by his mother, Johnetta Bryant, garnered attention from former President Barack Obama and basketball superstar LeBron James, and sits at more than 3 million views.

“I LOVE YOU KID! I LOVE US!” James captioned his Instagram post of the video.

Warner Records released a studio version of the single on streaming platforms along with an accompanying lyric music video. The video for the stirring song features black-and-white stills of protesters holding signs with the poignant lyrics of Keedron’s song.

During an interview with Hoda Kotb on TODAY, Bryant’s mother opened up regarding the song’s origins. She explained, “When I heard Mr. Floyd call out his mom, as a black mother that really hit me in a deep way.” She meditated on the race issues facing the nation and gave her son the lyrics.

Johnetta, 38, said in an interview with the Associated Press that since then, she has already written five more songs.

“I never would have considered myself to be a songwriter, but I do know that God speaks to me, she said. "What he gives me is necessary and in season. He’s doing a new thing in me. I’m humbly so grateful for it.”

According to the press release, the Florida native will perform “I Just Wanna Live” Friday evening on ABC’s 8 p.m. “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming.” Previously, he performed a rendition on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” via FaceTime and even did a snippet on TODAY for Hoda.

In solidarity, Warner Records wrote that it will be donating 100 percent of the debut single’s net profits to the NAACP. Amazon Music will also donating $1 for every stream through 9 p.m. PT, up to $50,000.

“With R&B energy, soul range, and gospel power, he will undoubtedly make a major impact,” Warner Records wrote in a press release.