THE POP PROTEGEE: ESEMEE DENTERS
Pancake waitress catches Justin Timberlake’s eye. Beautiful music ensues.
TBD (March), Album No. 1
Esmée Denters was on her way to a useful career as a social worker when she chanced upon online celebrity. Two years ago, paying tuition by waiting tables at a pancake house in Holland, Esmée (pronounced Ez-May) posted a YouTube video of herself singing the TLC hit “Waterfalls.” The clip, shot with her sister’s Webcam, is grainy but captivating—Denters nervously chomps her gum—and faster than you can say “LonelyGirl,” her shy, Dutch-au-pair-next-door charm had attracted more than 100 million views. Among the smitten voyeurs: Justin Timberlake, who liked her cover of his “What Goes Around … Comes Around” and made her the first artist signed to his label Tennman Records. Also a fan: Oprah Winfrey, who featured Denters alongside a skateboarding bulldog on her show about YouTube phenoms.
Her debut album will be far less low-tech than her MySpace videos. She’s worked with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (who created Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love”) and the production duo Stargate (Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable”), who, she says, are “amazing. I’ve been singing their songs since I started on YouTube.” Timberlake is executive producing, and he adds vocals to the electro-bounce jam “Love Dealer,” in which the usually demure Denters warns, “Don’t let these innocent eyes fool you.”
At 20, she still lives with her mom in the small Dutch village of Oosterbeek and continues to post covers on YouTube, though they’re less pixilated now. “I have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening,” she says. “I hope it’ll never stop, because I was a terrible waitress.”
Thanks Mark for letting me know this!