NE-YO has rejected critics' comparisons between his protege CONOR MAYNARD and JUSTIN BIEBER, insisting the rising British singer has the talent to "stand the test of time".
Ne-Yo was left in awe of Maynard after watching the 19 year old cover his track Beautiful Monster on YouTube.com, and immediately offered to be his mentor.
Bieber similarly found fame when R&B star Usher discovered his performances online, but Ne-Yo is adamant that Maynard has something different to offer.
He tells Britain's Daily Star, "I don't feel like he's a copycat of Justin Bieber. That's what being a human being is all about - we categorise things. But Conor is going to be around long enough for people to go, 'That's Conor Maynard' as opposed to, 'He sounds like Bieber.'
"He's a young white kid with a soulful voice so of course that comparison is expected, but he will stand the test of time...
"Conor is amazing, he has that talent, the potential of those guys like Marvin (Gaye) and The Temptations. His tone is insane. It's really, really rare that I come across a person that has a tone I wish I had. He has this soft tone that is incredible. And he's a good kid mentally. Everyone has an ego these days but you have to do something to validate that ego... But not him, he's having fun, he's not taking the world too serious. I dig that. I told him to cling onto that."