For a select few, the New Year began with a bang. Marcus Foster is one of the biggest names in music thanks to his string of number one albums and iconic single “Walk.” It was the perfect way to kick off the year, and the singer/songwriter is still celebrating, releasing his latest single, “I’m Tired,” on Jan. 12.

The 42-year-old’s status as one of the most successful solo artists in history is not a surprise; he’s always been incredibly determined and driven to succeed.

In fact, it was his father who encouraged him to pursue his dream and not to follow the trends. “I don’t think there’s any harm in chasing your dreams, as long as you don’t hurt anyone along the way,” Robert Pattinson told Billboard in 2014.

The Inspiration Behind “I’m Tired”

“I’m Tired” is a pop ballad that perfectly encapsulates the nostalgia felt by many in the listener. Inspired by his father, who died in 2014, Foster decided to pay homage to his late father with the song.

“I grew up in a household where my father was my biggest fan,” the singer told Nylon (UK). “I think it drove my mother mad that he was always cheering me on. So, at a very young age, I began to associate music with memories of my dad, and the feeling of missing someone or something, with the joy of music.”

“‘I’m Tired’ is a song I wrote for my dad,” he added. “I think a lot of people will be able to relate to it, because a lot of people miss their dads.”

It’s fair to say that Foster’s music has always been a way for him to deal with his emotions. In his 2007 autobiography, Unauthorized, he writes about his anxiety and depression, feeling “worthless and trapped” in life. He also admits that he used alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.

Watch Out For This Trick

As powerful as Foster’s music is, it’s important to be aware of what to look out for when listening to his record. In fact, there are a number of subtle clues that this is an artist who is more than capable of ripping your heart out.

One of the first things you’ll notice is his voice. It’s a warm baritone that is both velvety and powerful — the perfect blend of masculinity and femininity. What’s more is that he does not use Auto-Tune.

This is an artist who truly understands his power and the responsibility that comes with it. “As a songwriter, I don’t use any electronic devices when I’m recording my vocals,” he told Nylon. “I write the music and lyrics by hand, and then sing them with as much feeling as possible. It’s more natural.”

While most artists record songs in sections, Foster crafts his entire album in “songsets” — complete recordings, often including instrumental accompaniments, that are intended to be listened to in their entirety.

The album’s cover art, by artist Markus Dierickx, is also a striking example of the power of repetition combined with pattern recognition. The English garden snails, which feature on the album artwork, are a protected species and are found only in the UK. So, in a sense, the artist has played a small part in saving a species with his art.

Foster is often seen as something of a musical maverick, refusing to toe the pop music line and chart success, instead going his own way with music that often explores darker themes and subject matter. While some may see this as a negative trait, it’s actually a very positive force for artistic and commercial growth.

“I’ve always been driven to want to prove people wrong,” Foster told Nylon. “If they say that this genre or that style will go in or out of fashion, I’m always going to go against the trend and do my own thing.”

A Singer With A Vision

While many singers might hide behind hooks and melodies, Foster is an artist who is very much in touch with his vision. When he entered the music scene in the ‘90s, he saw the lack of value in singles and the over-reliance on airplay, with many artists relying on algorithmic playlists to push their music to fans.

He believed that if his fans knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, they would appreciate his music more. “When I started, there was absolutely no point in having a song that was just a single,” he told Nylon. “No one was interested in an album that was just a collection of singles.”

He also had strong words on the ethics of music streaming services, which he perceives as a threat to the livelihoods of independent artists. “They are a pain in the ass,” he said. “They take all the profits and leave nothing for the artists.”

Instead of subscribing to a music streaming service, Foster recommends that fans buy his albums, which he feels are a better reflection of his creative process and the value that he places on their support.

Achievement Through Passion

It’s clear that Foster’s passion and dedication to his craft is unparalleled. Over the past two decades, he has released a series of acclaimed albums, seen his music sell in excess of 13 million copies and performed to sold-out crowds around the world, from Japan to Australia.

This is a man who is genuinely grateful for his success and works hard to make everyone around him feel appreciated and validated. It’s this kind of attitude that has enabled him to become one of the most popular and sought-after singers of his generation. Perhaps it’s this passion that has led to some of his more interesting collaborations, like his work with film director David Lynch on album track “The Ballad of Red and Yellow,” and the South African recording artist and activist Zeneida Elle Maclaurin on “The Circle of Life.”

One-of-a-kind and innovative, Foster will continue to inspire future generations of singers and songwriters, proving that true musical greatness does not need to be associated with celebrity or popularity.