Bieber Fever hits Duluth

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

DULUTH -- Riley Wilson celebrated her sixth birthday with teen pop sensation Justin Bieber.

Sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with Bieber's likeness, the Loganville girl -- who celebrated her Aug. 9 birthday early with a Justin Bieber party last weekend -- carried a souvenir program outside the Arena at Gwinnett Center just after hearing the performer croon her favorite song, "Baby," to close out his concert Monday night.

Riley and her cousin, 8-year-old Chloe Henderson, were among thousands of shrieking Bieber fans who packed out the Gwinnett concert venue, where record producer Jermaine Dupri and fellow rapper Akon made guest appearances during the sold-out show.

Bieber is barely old enough to hold a driver's license, but who needs life -- and driving -- experience when you've got fresh talent, a horde of obsessed teen, tween and even younger fans, like Riley and Chloe, and you're endorsed by one of the most successful R&B singers in the business?

On his way to following in the footsteps of his mentor, Atlanta's own R&B titan Usher, Bieber has swiftly emerged as a top teen on the current pop scene. The shaggy-haired, baby-faced 16-year-old is headlining -- yes, headlining -- his first tour this spring and summer, which brought him to the Gwinnett area Monday night.

The musical import -- he's Canadian -- has already racked up more than a million CD sales in the seven-track EP "My World," which preceded his first full studio release, "My World 2.0," which hit stores in March, about the time the My World Tour was announced. Less than two months after the March release, "2.0" went platinum.

The self-taught musician -- Bieber plays drums, guitar, piano and trumpet and showed off his drumming and piano skills during Monday's concert -- saw early success largely due to the Internet, more specifically YouTube, to which he gave multiple shout-outs Monday, where the teen started posting homemade videos of himself singing songs by Usher, Ne-Yo and Stevie Wonder. Bieber's manager, former So So Def marketing executive Scott "Scooter" Braun, found him there and flew the then-13-year-old to Atlanta, where Bieber eventually found himself in front of Usher himself. In October 2008, Bieber officially signed with Island Records. That following summer, his first single, "One Time," shot up the charts with its catchy chorus and infectious beat.

Already an Internet sensation with more than 10,000 views on YouTube, the teen's star only skyrocketed higher, igniting a rash of Bieber Fever that spread like wildfire as his music made its way to the airwaves and overwhelmed Gwinnett on Monday night.

Less than two years after he swept into the music scene with "One Time," Bieber is already branching out -- he's signed on to appear in a feature film about his life and career and will be the subject of a book set to be released in October, which will detail his rise to fame and offer fans a behind-the-scenes look at his current tour.