By Josette Keelor
Eighth grader John-Robert Rimel said he's stunned by the opportunity to perform on the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" recently.
The 13-year-old Edinburg resident has sung at regional events and appeared in multiple YouTube videos, but Monday's six minute TV spot at 3 p.m. on NBC has launched John-Robert's career like nothing else so far.
"They were extremely kind, extremely generous," he said. "Ellen, she's the sweetest, most down-to-earth person." He said she and the show's crew also calmed his nerves before he walked out on stage.
DeGeneres was encouraging in her praise of John-Robert's musicianship, too. He first performed his own guitar accompaniment and then continued the second half of the song a capella.
"I think we all feel like we just watched somebody start his career," she said, encouraging enthusiastic audience applause.
John-Robert explained on Tuesday that he sang that song because that was the song DeGeneres heard him sing in his YouTube video, which in turn prompted the show to invite him on as a guest.
"They really liked that one, so they asked me to do that one, and I wasn't going to object," he said. "I was perfectly fine with that."
"They wanted a little bit of a capella and I also wanted that. It really worked out. I think it showed really what I'm capable of," he said.
Since the show aired, new fans that saw him on "Ellen" have begun flocking to YouTube to hear more from John-Robert.
"I definitely noticed," he said, "like my subscribers, they doubled, which is insane."
Comments on a video of him singing Extreme's "More Than Words" with singer/songwriter friend Emma Rowley proclaim "Ellen brought me here" and "He's gonna be a star."
"I just saw you on the Ellen show, you were terrific!!!" another viewer wrote in the comments section of his and Rowley's video for the song "Say Something," by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera.
According to his father, Bob Rimel, the experience has been a huge stepping stone for John-Robert, who recently was selected for the second year in a row to represent Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock at the All State Middle School Honor Choir.
"The people that have contacted John-Robert, they've been from all over the world," Rimel said. "It's unbelievable, it's like Bulgaria, it's Germany and France, Portugal and the Philippines. ... Not only does Ellen give you national exposure, but it gives you world exposure."
Though John-Robert said he'll keep his options open for singing opportunities that arise, for now he plans to stay grounded and keep close to home.
"I'm definitely going to stay local," he said. "People have really supported me and this is where my root is. But if somebody asked me in another state, I'm really going to jump at the chance."
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org>