Eko. It’s three letters, one word and the next big thing.
“I want my name to relay a message,” Decatur High School senior Kyle Hubbard said. “I was praying and the word eko kept coming back to me.”
The meaning behind his stage name is to take what God says and echo it back to the world in a newer form, rapping.
“I love music, and music has always been there for me,” Hubbard said, “especially when my parents were going through a divorce. Music would calm me down or give me inspiration.”
Hubbard’s goal is to reach out to kids who’ve gone through the same thing and give them hope.
“I want to give them something to hold onto that isn’t money or girls, but something they can carry with them throughout their lives,” he said. “It is a blessing that God would choose me to use something that I love so much and put it into action.”
His first album was released last June, under the name Rebelyoung.
“Every day for lunch I went back to the high school greenroom and put on an instrumental beat and freestyled,” Hubbard said. “From there I went and watched videos on how to perfect this craft.”
After watching the videos, he met Christian rapper Danny Cooper, known as Da Paperboy.
“Danny is my mentor,” Hubbard said. “I met him at the beginning of sophomore year. I talked to him after a show, and it wasn’t until he came down the second time that we freestyle battled. And he was like, ‘Hey, man! Give me your number, and we can keep in touch.’ From there, we became friends.”
Cooper continues to mentor Hubbard as he prepares for the next step in his music career.
“Kyle has a genuine desire to help encourage people through his music,” Cooper said. “He is an ambitious young guy, passionate about God and his family. It means a lot to me that he sees me as a mentor. Knowing that and seeing his growth pushes me to strive to be better.”
Once Cooper started helping Hubbard, Hubbard realized this is what he wants to do the rest of his life. He didn’t have money to record, so he met up with friends Jaaron Wingo and Matthew Britt in the band, Xaos.
“I told them if they will let me record one song I will pay them back, but I really just want to try this out,” Hubbard said. “So, my first song was recorded sophomore year in November. Now I have six out, not including the three new ones I’m recording.”
Performing two to three shows a month, his reputation is growing. His next performance is 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the House of Blues in Dallas.
“A big thing is just exposing my music to a whole new, different crowd,” Hubbard said. “I have done a bunch of small-town shows, which is cool. I love it, and I love getting to use the gift God gave me to reach people, but I have never done a show in Dallas.”
The House of Blues is hosting a festival 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday for all unsigned artists.
“I will get the stage for 25 to 30 minutes,” Hubbard said. “And I am the only Christian performer. A big difference between Christian and secular artists is secular talk in between songs about random stuff, and in the Christian world of music you actually give a small, condensed lesson.”
His last concert was in March at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and he talked about striving to be better and reach more toward God and away from material items. At the House of Blues he will perform five to six songs with one or two condensed lessons in between.
“If I can record in time, I’m hoping to do two, possibly three new songs,” Hubbard said. “What I want to do is get these three songs recorded and get them released via Facebook for people to see because they are more mature, more advanced and better sounding than my original stuff.”
To get on stage at the House of Blues festival, an unsigned artist must be referred by someone else. Hubbard’s referral was anonymous.
“I know not everyone will agree with what I have to say, especially after all the other performances,” Hubbard said. “So being able to reach maybe 500 people and say, ‘Here is my music, check it out,’ is awesome.”
Record label companies will be there the day of the festival, watching Hubbard. If they like what they hear, the labels will contact him and discuss further details for a potential career.
“It’s important to get exposure and get my feet in the door, because if they like us they will invite us back,” Hubbard said.
After this big show, Hubbard hopes to start working on his first music video. He wants to send out a biography and sample songs to different churches so he can start performing at least once a week.
“This is awesome and this is something I want to do the rest of my life,” Hubbard said. “It’s a true blessing.”