Singer-songwriter John-Robert has spent the last several months following his passion in Los Angeles.
Now back in Edinburg with his family while he rides out the COVID-19 pandemic, the 19-year-old Central High School graduate has his eyes on the future.
With his debut extended-play album “Bailey Barely Knew Me,” his recent single “Urs” and some contemporary pop songs on the way, the singer who goes by his first name said he plans to continue writing and recording music while he’s home.
“That was pretty much my life day to day,” he said — “alone in a room with my laptop.”
Glad for the opportunity to spend this uncertain time at home in Shenandoah County, he said, “I wanted to be quarantined with my family.”
John-Robert started his dream of singing in 2010 when he was 9. He traveled the region, performing at county fairs and other events like the Virginia Dreams Centerstage Show in Harrisonburg.
When he was 10, he told the Northern Virginia Daily it was his dream to be a singer. At age 13, he was invited to appear on the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
He performed The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “God Bless the Broken Road” on guitar, switching to a capella before picking up the final chords on guitar.
“I think we all feel like we just watched somebody start his career,” DeGeneres said at the time, encouraging enthusiastic audience applause.
In 2019, he made his debut with the original track “Adeline” — which his record label Warner Records said scored nearly 800,000 Spotify streams in a few months.
His debut EP, “Bailey Barely Knew Me,” includes the songs “Adeline” and “Friends” and offers what Warner Records called “John-Robert’s own musical evolution” over the past few years.
“I wanted to tell my story in chronological order,” John-Robert said in a bio posted at the company’s site, press.warnerrecords.com/john-robert. “At its core, I wanted it to be voice and guitar, because that’s where everything starts, but then have it break out and add more instruments and sounds to show more of my production chops.”
The outro at the end of “Love Won’t You Stay” offers what the singer called a “hint at what comes next,” leading into “the next chapter in my life and the next musical exploration.”
Most recently, on March 10, he released “Urs” through Nice Life Recording Company/Warner Records, with an accompanying music video.
Living in LA since June, John-Robert said he shares a place in Boyle Heights with several other musicians who support and challenge each others’ music.
“It was always my dream to move into a house with a lot of really talented musicians,” he said.
With the new coronavirus making its way around the U.S., most of his plans have since been disrupted.
“A lot of the festivals and things kind of got postponed,” he said.
Being in California when residents were told to stay at home whenever possible felt “a little bit desolate, a little bit scary,” he said.
Quarantined in an urban setting, he noted, “People can’t retreat back to nature.”
So he returned to Virginia, where “It’s just a little bit more grounding.”
But while his progress has slowed a little through social-distancing, he said he has some exciting projects on the horizon, including some songs he plans to release soon.
“It’s been a dream,” he said of his progress so far. “I’ve been trying to pinch myself. It feels like the pieces have been finally falling into place.”
Watch the music video for “Urs” on YouTube at youtube.com/watch?v=iw7vc0Wm6Js