16 Sep 2004, 06:29:54 PM

Reporter: Jackie Quist

It's hard to believe Eran James is just 15 years old. He's a kid from the western suburbs of Melbourne, who many say is on the verge of international stardom.

“A lot of people compare me to, like, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Bill Withers, James Brown But I just see myself as myself..” Eran explains, “I'm pretty blessed by God to have this. Not everyone has a voice, so I just see it as a God gift, and look after it, and do what I love”.

Eran says he was first noticed at age 4, singing nursery rhymes in his mother's shopping trolley. After that, he held impromptu concerts for relativesAnd then came his big break, when he was discovered by music producer Shane Monopoli, singing at a local talent quest.

Shane says that he knew then Eran was destined to become a star, and signed him up on the spot. “I think Eran's probably one of the most talented artists that I've ever come across, I've actually had the pleasure of working with” says Shane.

Since then, the pair has written some 60 songs, and at 13 years, Eran was contracted to music giant Universal. It's heady stuff for a young boy, but Eran's feet are kept well and truly on the ground, thanks to Shane and his wife Val. “I'm always away, so when I'm in Sydney, in America, she looks after me like a mum – makes sure I'm alright, cooks food. It's great, yeah” Eran explains.

Eran now studies by correspondence, and once his algebra homework is finished, its off to a promotional shoot for his debut album “Reviewing the Situation”. Though it's not really the life of an average 15 year old, Eran insists “I'm still like a normal 15 year old. I do all the normal stuff, but then got this added bonus my singing and my whole career. So it's all like a bonus, and I'm just really lucky to do what I do”.

Music Guru Molly Meldrum says he loves Eran's album. “I think it's fantastic” he enthuses, “He is extraordinary, I mean seriously extraordinary”.

Eran says his remarkable journey hasn't always been easy. He travels a lot and misses his family. Those feelings have culminated in a song called “I'm All Alone”.

So while Eran teeters on the edge of success, he says it has all been worthwhile: “I'm really happy with the album. I love it It's, like, awesome. I made it there” he laughs.