His uncle Abdullah may the King of Jordan, but Jaafar Al-Saleh is creating a name – and a sound – that’s all his own.
The son of Princess Zein bint Hussein, Jaafar grew up as a member of Jordanian royal family. And throughout his royal childhood, he always knew his passion was music. He’s been singing since his childhood, and as a teenager, he taught himself how to play the guitar, and soon after, starting writing music.
“It’s something I always knew I wanted to do with my life,” Jaafar tells PEOPLE.
It wasn’t until his early twenties, however, that his music career really began to take off. It first happened in his home country of Jordan, and this year, he’s had international success too, with the song “Sixteen” – the first single off of his upcoming album Folktales of Spring. The next single off of the album, “Dalia”, is set to be released in January 2016.
His family may be in an influential position, but Jaafar insists that he wants to climb to the top on his own.
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In fact, his family history is the primary reason why he chose to only use his first name professionally – so that when people looked him up online, they wouldn’t be able to figure out the connection. However, he admits that as his music has grown in popularity, hiding his royal background has become more difficult.
“I’m very proud of who I am and where I come from,” Jaafar says. “But I would hate for anything other than my music to be what people focus on.”
Jaafar may not want to use his family’s influence to help accelerate his career, but regardless, he has their support, he says. What he doesn’t want, however, is for people to pay attention to his background instead of his work.
“I just wanted to break through and have people listen to my music on my merits,” Jaafar says. “I didn’t want that part of my life to have a focus in any way.”
And in 2016, he’ll have plenty of chances to do so. After a year and a half in the studio, his debut album will be released early next year, and he has plans to make TV appearances in the United States, with a tour hopefully to follow soon after.
“I’m ready to get out of the studio,” he says. “I want people to hear my music.”