Filipinos are widely known to be talented. In fact, the Philippines has its fair share of international stars and artists. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that another star is set to rise: Aldrich Lloyd Talonding. Who is he?
Aldrich Lloyd Talonding is no less than the 14-year old boy who became a YouTube sensation for a cover he did on Luther Vandross’ popular hit, Dance with My Father Again. Not only that, he’s the latest Filipino talent featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”! Whoa! How did that happen?
The Power of YouTube
What appeared to be a home-made video of Talonding singing along with his cousin James Walter Bucong’s guitar accompaniment was uploaded on YouTube on April 25, 2013. The video, compared with the music videos of international (or even local) stars was unremarkable when it comes to the boys’ appearance on the “set”. They were both actually just sitting down on rattan-chairs at a porch outside what looks like a house – with some kind of palm plant at the background. There were no special effects save for flipping the video on mirror view sometime around the middle before returning to its original orientation.
Yes, the video did look too simple. What made this very simple video quite extraordinary is the fact that the boy singing in it had the voice of an angel! You could just feel goose bumps rising on your skin while he belts out a cover of Dance with My Father Again. He had a high-pitched voice characteristic of boys before puberty – and it was oh so beautiful!
The way Aldrich sang the song appeals to the ears, tugging at your heartstrings with raw emotion. It’s amazing how such a simple video could make you want to cry and reach out for your dad. He caresses the words in the song like it was his own. He sings with unbridled emotion and raw talent yet appeared so casual about it, like there was no big effort in doing so. It was a humbling experience to watch him sing.
James had no singing part but made a great performance on the guitar. There was a slight hitch near the end of the video but something totally forgivable and almost negligible in the light of the events that followed.
The Power of Social Media
The people who watched the video on YouTube were so amazed of the cousins’ talent that many soon campaigned for the two to gain international renown. The video soon circulated on Facebook, often with a note saying something like “Share this amazing video so these 2 boys can be discovered by Ellen DeGeneres”. Other versions called for viewers to share it so that Oprah Winfrey would take notice.
The campaigns took the social media by storm. Within a week, the video had already reached Ellen DeGeneres and captured her attention. By then, the video had less than 50,000 hits. It wasn’t a million but that didn’t count with Ellen. What she saw was extraordinary talent. Aside from announcing to her viewers about her new discovery, she also invited the boys to the US to sing on her show! DeGeneres has been instrumental in discovering several extraordinary talents from the Philippines, including Charice Pempengco, Arnel Pineda, and Maria Aragon.
A Tragic Event
Before the boys even made it to the US, a tragic event happened. The father of Aldrich Lloyd Talonding died on June 9, 2013 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Later, when interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, he confessed how he didn’t know when they made and uploaded the video just how close to home it would be, that it would come true. A very tragic event, indeed, but something that didn’t deter him from making his dreams come true.
A Dream Come True!
On September 13, 2013, Aldrich Lloyd Talonding and James Walter Bucong made their debut on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”. The episode shows the boys talking with her candidly. 14-year-old Aldrich admitted that he thought it weird that people quickly began to recognize them in public, even in restrooms! 20-year-old James had another dilemma: he felt that it was awkward when girls began to notice him and said they love him! Those statements made the audience chuckle with delight at the boys’ honesty. Mind you, these 2 B’laan natives had a great command of English and talked with Ellen like they were really at ease.
Their performance on the show was certainly several notches higher than the one on the home video. They had drum sets as backdrop and both wore patriotic polo shirts featuring an embroidered Philippine map at the left chest. It was another cover of Dance with My Father Again and it blew the audience away. Many were left with tears in their eyes and big smiles on their faces. When the song ended, they gave the boys a standing ovation!
It wasn’t just a standing ovation that the two received on the show. De Generes gave them a guitar, piano, and $10,000! Plus, being featured on the show and praised by Ellen is something that they both could be proud of for the rest of their lives. It certainly was a dream come true.
Watch out for another star set on the rise: Aldrich Lloyd Talonding!