Nathan Evans, the Scottish singer and former postman behind TikTok’s “sea shanty” craze, has sailed his way to a record deal with Universal’s Polydor Records, the U.K.-based label confirmed Friday (Jan. 22).
Evans rose to viral fame earlier this month after posting TikTok videos performing traditional sea shanties, which are a type of folk song originally sung by sailors on large merchant ships. The clips, including his popular rendition of New Zealand whaling ballad “Soon May the Wellerman Come,” spurred a TikTok phenomenon whereby users have been creating EDM remixes of sea shanties, performing skits dressed up as sailors and creating sea shanties of their own.
Last week, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots even performed a sea shanty version of Olivia Rodrigo’s smash “Drivers License” on The Tonight Show. Posts tagged with #ShantyTok have now generated 14.9 million total views on the app, while Evans’ TikTok account has racked up close to 600,000 followers.
“See how I was a postman on Friday? I have just signed to the biggest record label in the world,” Evans said in a TikTok video Thursday. “I have just signed a deal with Polydor Records. I’ve done it. It’s done and I’m releasing a single.”
On Friday, Evans released a full-length version of “Wellerman” along with an EDM-flavored version, “Wellerman 220Kid & Killen Ted Remix.” His deal with Polydor is for multiple releases, a spokesperson for the label confirmed, although further terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Teaming up with Nathan to take his wonderful version of ‘Wellerman’ to an even wider audience is a dream for us at Polydor,” label co-president Ben Mortimer said in a statement shared with Billboard. “A week ago Nathan was working as a postman, and now he’s on the verge of a huge hit record with a sea shanty he recorded at home. In a weird and tough time for the world, it’s a lovely story we can all get behind.”
Evans discussed his rise to fame on Good Morning America this morning, and is set to perform “Wellerman” live this weekend as part of BBC’s coverage of the Manchester United v. Liverpool soccer match on Sunday.
“We’re so excited to be joining Nathan on this amazing journey he has begun,” added Polydor co-president Tom March. “He single-handedly kicked off a global craze for sea shanties and it’s wonderful to see this style of old folk music connecting with people everywhere. Nathan’s story has captured hearts and minds around the world. To go from postman to performing on Good Morning America in the space of a week is simply phenomenal.”
Evans joins a growing list of artists who can attribute their rises to the video-sharing app. TikTok claims that more than 70 artists who broke on TikTok have since signed major label deals, including Jawsh 685, Powfu, Sueco and Priscilla Block.
Listen to Evans’ “Wellerman” below.