Newly-out Aaron Carter hits the road with his first album in 15 years

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“For me, it’s all about the music,” Tampa-born Aaron Carter says. “And if there is one lesson I’ve learned this [last] year, it’s not to dwell on the past, but to live for the future.”

It’s a wonderful sentiment for the multi-platinum pop star on the eve of the release of LøVë, his first studio album in 15 years, particularly following a year of highly publicized ups and downs. But to understand Carter’s zest for his upcoming release and for the future, one has to examine his past.

“I’ve honestly been performing as long as I could remember,” Carter, now 30, tells Watermark. He began his musical career at 7 years old singing for Dead End, a local Tampa band formed in 1995.

By 1997, the 9-year-old performer found himself sharing the stage with another Carter—his older brother Nick, of Backstreet Boys fame. Within months, he was signed to a record label and released his first single, just ahead of his first self-titled album. Carter’s subsequent releases dropped in 2000, 2001 and 2002, with hits like “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” and “Oh Aaron,” all while the artist toured the globe.

“Traveling and seeing the world doing what I love has been amazing,” Carter says of growing up famous, both stateside and abroad. “But at times can be lonely.”

Although he joined the cast of Dancing with the Stars in 2009, Carter had a relatively quiet few years until a tumultuous 2016 and 2017. The former child star faced backlash for several of his decisions, including an arrest for suspected DUI and drug possession; a public feud with his Backstreet brother; and his short-term, later-retracted support of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

In 2017, Carter grappled with his identify, and soon utilized social media to open up about his depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and bisexuality. “There’s something I’d like to say that I feel is important for myself and my identity that has been weighing on my chest for nearly half of my life,” Carter shared with his 644,000 Twitter followers.

“This doesn’t bring me shame, just a weight and burden I have held onto for a long time that I would like lifted off me. I grew up in this entertainment industry at a very young age and when I was around 13 years old I started to find boys and girls attractive,” he wrote. “There were years that went by that I thought about, but it wasn’t until I was 17 years old, after a few relationships with girls, I had an experience with a male that I had an attraction to who I also worked with and grew up with.”

Carter concluded by quoting out musical icon Boy George, noting that in “sum, ‘I’ve never felt as though I didn’t belong, I just acted as though I did.’”

As Watermark reported at the time, Carter returned to the stage shortly after at Hamburger Mary’s in Brandon. “I just want to say thank you so much for all your love and your support with the LGBT community and my announcement,” he said to a cheering crowd. “It means a lot.”

With performances scheduled for both Southern Nights Orlando and Tampa in September of last year, Carter seemed to be embracing his newfound home in the LGBTQ community (and its venues.) But the performances weren’t meant to be.

“Unfortunately due to health-related issues,” Southern Nights Orlando announced via Facebook, “Aaron Carter will not be appearing with us at Southern Nights Orlando.” The Tampa locale echoed the announcement, and local reports surfaced that St. Petersburg police had rushed to Carter’s home for reports of drug usage.

“Only I can change my life,” Carter tweeted soon after. “No one can do it for me.” The singer then entered a rehabilitation facility to focus on his health, and emerged two months later with a celebrated 45-pound weight gain.

Ahead of his slew of announcements and penchant for self-perseverance, Carter had already begun work on LøVë. “It’s been such an incredible and new process making this album,” Carter says of the upcoming release. “I’ve [been] more hands on than I’ve ever been with any other album. I was co-producing and co-writing in real time.”

Sony Music Entertainment, in its promotion for the album, echoes his sentiments. “As the consummate professional and artist that he is, Aaron has been focused on developing the tracks for LøVë for over two years, and he has writing and producer credits on every song on the album,” their press release reads. “Now as an adult, a flame has sparked in Aaron to evolve and grow as an artist, driving him to study different styles and genres and incorporate that into this work.”

The album’s first single, “Don’t Say Goodbye,” seems to be a hit. Since its release in late December, it has garnered nearly one million streams across iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify. “[It] encompasses everything I went through last year,” Carter says, something new and longtime fans seem pleased with. Critics have celebrated the release as well, with Entertainment Weekly advising “it’s no ‘Aaron’s Party’—it’s better.”

The album was written “while I was going through my last relationship,” Carter says, recalling his now ex-girlfriend Madison Parker. The duo split following Carter’s coming out, though the matters were unrelated. He says he drew inspiration from “love: the good, bad, and ugly.”

While the album will detail his relationship with a woman, Carter asserts that he’s thought about writing songs about men for “the album after this one.” His representatives directed Watermark to the singer’s recent interview with the podcast LGBTQ&A, where he asserts “it’s already been thought through. I definitely embrace my bisexuality. It’s still new to me because I just started talking about it, really.”

“I try to take everything day by day,” Carter says. “I’m excited to start my tour for this album at the end of the month.”

The upcoming tour will begin in New Jersey less than one week after LøVë’s release. Eighteen other stops will follow, all domestic, and Carter hopes to include Florida on the list as it progresses. “Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart,” he says, noting that aside from living in Tampa Bay, “I’ve also lived and enjoyed being in Miami and Orlando.”

“I can promise you I’m planning a few big things,” Carter says of his reignited career. “You’re gonna have to keep your eyes open. I am so grateful to my fans and look forward to sharing this deeply personal music which came from the inner core of my heart and soul.”

Aaron Carter’s LøVë, from Z Entertainment/Sony Music, is slated for release Feb. 16. “Don’t Say Goodbye” is available for streaming and purchase on popular music platforms, and Carter’s U.S. tour begins on Feb. 22. For more information on Carter’s music and official tour dates, visit AaronCarter.com.

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