Fourteen-year-old Aldrich Lloyd Talonding, from the southern Philippines, said he was just having fun when he recorded a soulful rendition of Luther Vandross’ “Dance with my Father.” But his at-home recording could launch a music career in America.
After seeing his video’s success on YouTube—the clip garnered more than 1 million hits in a week—talk show host Ellen DeGeneres invited Talonding, a Christian who enjoys singing in his church’s choir, to fly to the United States and be a guest on her show. DeGeneres, who often takes an interest in musical prodigies, called the teen “amazing.”
“Please come here and sing to me and all of my friends here,” DeGeneres said after playing Talonding’s video for her studio and at-home audience.
Talonding, who’s now in the process of getting his U.S. visa, plans to bring his cousin, who played the guitar in the video, and an elder sister to the show.
The son of Christian ministers and a member of the B'laan indigenous group, Talonding said he was "happy, surprised, and nervous" about his sudden fame.
Philippine journalists have flocked to the family’s previously quiet community in General Santos city just to get a word with the high school student.
"I was surprised because the video was just made for fun," he said.
Zendee Rose Tenerefe, a Filipino singer also from General Santos city, had alerted the talk show's producer to the video, which Talonding’s cousin posted to YouTube. Zendee and other Filipino singers including Charice Pempengco began their careers by appearing on Ellen.
When asked about a possible singing career, Talonding, who previously dreamed of becoming a doctor, wasn’t sure, saying he would leave that to the will of God.