Harry Styles: The Voice of a Youth Movement

A coming-out party for Harry Styles and fans, at opening night at the Forum in Inglewood on May 11, 2008. The event celebrated his first No. 1 album in the U.S. and was a sold-out crowd-pleaser. The event drew about 1,200 fans to the first night. (David Livingston / Getty Images)

“He’s not the face of a boy band,” says Styles’ manager, Simon Cowell. “He hasn’t been a face to me. He’s been the voice of a different generation of people in one of the biggest industries around the world.”

The face of a teen heartthrob and the voice of a youth movement: He had no idea of that role until he took on it just before the start of his senior year at high school.

HARRY STYLES — A boy is born

At the tender age of 11 Harry Styles — whose given name is Jason Gill — had to decide between high school and the United Kingdom. The UK had no equivalent of Pop 100, where the top 10 is voted on by teen audiences.

“I wanted to do something else, like be in a boy band or do something else,” he says now. Eventually he was drawn to Pop 100 because he wanted to make an album in his image — the pop star.

“I felt like it was a place where you could express your own voice,” Styles says. “I wasn’t just a guy on a school run doing his homework, taking notes in history, learning about art history. I was taking notes for my album.”

He’s been in music since he was 6, singing in church, leading choir and playing small roles in musicals, including the Broadway show “The Phantom of the Opera.” But after “Harry Styles,” he says, “it was hard to tell people I was in a band. When they see me on stage, it’s like, ‘Who are you?’”

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