Exactly a year ago today, a quiet and seemingly shy 15-year-old boy dressed in a simple purple sweatshirt, baggy jeans, and black L.A. Dodgers baseball cap sat in the lobby of the J-14 office, waiting to meet the staff for his first big magazine office visit.
I went out to greet him... and he introduced himself as Justin Bieber and sweetly shook my hand. So polite and so charming, but he definitely kept to himself just a bit. By coincidence, singer Kristinia DeBarge was our J-14 Celeb Intern for the Day. As she was preparing to interview Justin, I hung out with him and his mom Pattie -- and gave Justin a copy of our handwritten boy quiz for him to fill out.
He studiously filled out the form, really taking his time to think out his answers (which you'll see in an upcoming issue of J-14!). While he was doing that, I noticed his mom had the coolest cell phone case. I asked her where she got it and she proudly looked over at Justin and said that he got it for her as a present. Where? At the mall. How cute!
At this time, there were no screaming fans closing down malls yet, there were no 3-year-old kids crying on YouTube about how much they loved him, and there definitely weren't the 2.5 million Twitter followers glued to his every tweet. Justin was just a kid from Canada -- meeting with a magazine for the first time (we're so honored it was J-14!) to talk about his music.
He was so gentle and soft-spoken that I must admit that I had a bit of a doubt that he could command a stage. But then he burst out with a verse of "One Time" and my jaw dropped. This gigantic voice coming out of this little guy -- he instantly transformed into a superstar in front of my very eyes! (To think now, I got my very own private performance that day, when he plays for thousands every night just a year later!)
We chatted for a bit and then I asked him to tape a special video message for the J-14 readers, who I just knew would fall in love with him (don't say I didn't tell you -- ha!).
Check out the video here:
I noticed a funny little thing while we were taping it -- right before I hit "record," he did a little head shake to fix his hair just right.
There was just something so adorable about it that I had to call him out on it. He demonstrated exactly how he did it -- it was so cute that I asked him right away if I could tape it so that I could share it with all of you. Who knew that a year later, his headshake would be such a trademark and that his famous locks would be so iconic (well, okay, J-14 did!).
Watch the video again here:When he was done, Justin hung out and read the latest issue of J-14... he pointed out BeyoncÃ© on our music page as his crush (Awww!). Later on, his mom proudly pulled up his YouTube KidRauhl Channel on our computer as we watched some of his videos... Sitting in a room watching videos of Justin Bieber with him and his mom? Getting my own performance of his hit single "One Time?" Just chilling out and chatting about his hair (and I can confirm that it's as soft as it looks!)? It's incredible how much can change in a year.
But you know what I love most about Justin? That despite all his megafame... a year later, he's still the same small-town boy at heart. Every time I see him, he's armed with a huge heartfelt hug. He's such a lovable and loving guy who truly has worked so hard for every ounce of success that he has.
May 18, 2009 will forever be one of the most remarkable days in J-14 history, thanks to Justin! Happy one-year anniversary of your J-14 Magazine visit today, Justin Bieber!
We love you even more today than we did a year ago!
Xoxo, Rachel Chang J-14 Editor