It started with a random idea hatched during class to score attention for YouTube videos. It’s safe to say that 22 year-old friends Ryan Leander and Michael Wekall have accomplished that, and by the time their mission is complete, YouTube hits might not be the only thing they have to show for their work. Leander and Wekall created AHugFromTaylorSwift.com. The goal is just that – be hugged by singer Taylor Swift. Yes, Swift knows of the website, and is offering challenges to the students via her own YouTube account. After completing the first task of helping senior citizens across the street, the duo will premiere a video that incorporates the number 13 in to good deeds. Leander told me on “The Ralphie Radio Show” that they’ll upload the clip on April 13. Yes, 13 is Taylor’s lucky number.
“We never saw it getting this big,” remarked Leander, who called in to “The RRS” from Alabama. Wekall is a student at Auburn University, while Ryan takes on-line courses. “It’s definitely hard to concentrate with school and this going on and just like a whole other separate life that you have to keep going.” — Download the interview
— Leander said that they keep in touch with a middle man who works with Taylor Swift, although he would not reveal the man’s identity or job title. It was this person that discovered Leander and Wekall on-line and alerted Swift. Apparently the songstress was flattered, and now the story is gaining national attention. Although their mission is now transforming in to a feel-good tale, Leander admits they were a little afraid of coming off as creepy.
“That was one of our major fears because I’m sure she gets a lot of that stuff,” said Leander. “We’re just two average guys, just wanting to have fun.”
But when will the fun come to a head, with a hug from Taylor? Leander has no idea.
“Your guess is as good as ours,” he replied. “Hopefully there won’t be too many (challenges), we’re both trying to graduate and get some jobs.”
In this day and age, that task might even be harder than scoring a hug from Grammy-award winning superstar. The students will surely find out soon enough.
In an interview on “The Ralphie Radio Show”, 20 year-old Michael Sharpe says Kid Cudi reached out to him and apologized for punching the college student at a show over two months ago in Vancouver.
The original incident stemmed from a concert on December 11 of last year in Canada. Cudi played two events that night – as main support for Lady GaGa’s Monster Ball Tour and a solo set at another venue. At the second performance, a fan threw a wallet on stage, at the emcee. Cudder sent the wallet back in to the crowd. Moments later, footage on YouTube shows Sharpe toss the wallet back on stage. He caught the pass from Cudi, felt back keeping the wallet, and gave it back. Immediately after, Cudi removed his in-ear monitors, hopped off the stage, and punched Sharpe in the face.
Last week, Sharpe was back in school from his home in the Philippines and studying in the library. Suddenly his phone rang; the number unknown. He picked up, only to find on the other end Kid Cudi’s manager. The person told Sharpe that within five minutes, Cudi himself would be calling. An hour passed, nothing.
Then, as Sharpe walked back from the library, his phone rang – a New York area number showed up on the caller ID.
“I’m just going insane, because I knew right off the bat it was Cudi,” Sharpe reminisced, calling in to “The RRS” from Vancouver after a late night of studying. “(Cudi) was just like, ‘What’s up? You’re a hard guy to get ahold of!’” — Download the mp3
— Truth be told – Sharpe waited, patiently, for a call from Cudi for over two months. The college student decided that he never wanted to be “that guy” and press charges, or try to gain extra fame and publicity from the incident. He simply wanted people to know the truth, and for Cuddder to apologize.
“We spoke for like, 20 minutes,” continued Sharpe. “Like, straight up, a conversation I’d have with one of my friends. He was just really cool.”
Before the phone chat finished, Cudi extended more than just an apology to the 20 year-old.
“He was like, ‘Oh, is it okay if I fly you off to New York one of these days?’” Sharpe recalled, excited and stunned even as he retold the story. “’Yeah, you know, I gotta get back at you. You were all cool about the situation… I gotta fly you out.’”
Sharpe told me talking to Cudi on the phone was big enough – the pending trip is surreal to him. The emcee is currently in Australia and working on his second LP, but hopes to finally meet Sharpe soon after.
And yes, Cudi’s departure from GaGa’s tour, a story first reported on “The RRS”, did come up during their conversation. Sharpe would not divulge what was said – simply stating that the Cleveland-born artist did mention that the combination of a new album, his solo dates, and GaGa’s tour took its toll from a stress standpoint.
Katy Perry sang gospel before singing about kissing girls… Lady GaGa channeled more Alanis before Madonna. Now comes footage of pop’s newest princess… Ke$ha, seen below singing “Honky Tonk Song” with her brother in Nashville at an undisclosed dive bar.
Mariah Carey is no stranger to awkward live TV… matter of fact, she could be the spokesperson for it. Anyways, Tuesday night, she gets on stage at an awards show in California to accept an award for her performance in Precious… and well, the video will tell the rest of the story…
I’m sorry, but Mimi’s ramble immediately conjured up memories of Joe Namath to me…
Michael Sharpe, the 19 year-old college student who says he received a haymaker from one of his favorite emcee’s, Kid Cudi, now says he still hasn’t received an apology.
Sharpe checked in from the Phillipines, where he’s home on winter break. Just five days ago, the college student thought he did the right thing by tossing a wallet that wasn’t his back on to Kid Cudi’s stage. Cudder took the gesture as an insult – video that surfaced online shows the rapper remove his ear monitors, jump off stage, and land a hard punch to the face of a fan, allegedly Sharpe. But after our 10 minute conversation Thursday, it seems that the fan’s feelings are hurt far more than his face.
“Being home now, and talking about it with my family… it’s different,” Sharpe revealed in relation to his feelings on the incident. “Definitely, if he would have hurt me seriously, I’d be much more upset. I didn’t really think about that though until I came home.”
Sharpe also said he has been in touch with a man claiming to be Cudi’s manager. The person kept insisting that an apology would be forthcoming, however that seems less likely as the days pass.
“How busy can he be, that he can’t call me and apologize?” asked Sharpe. “If you punched someone at a bar, and you were sorry, wouldn’t you make it a point to call and apologize? I’m not even looking for anything, other than just an apology. I’m just a fan.”
It was in that vein that Sharpe sent his latest and thus far, last series of text messages to the rapper’s alleged manager. After hearing news that Kid Cudi would no longer be on tour with Lady GaGa, a story first reported by The RRS, Sharpe reached out to make sure everything was cool. The “manager” retorted with a defensive, press release-like statement, noting that Cudi pulled himself off the tour, and was not asked to leave.
“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?'” recalled Sharpe. “Like, is he trying to make a statement through me? That was it for me.”
Singer/songwriter Benjamin Wagner checked in to The RRS to chat about “A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 3” – a compilation of seasonal songs that is sold with proceeds benefiting 826, a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in seven cities across the country.
Check out 826 National here. Purchase A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 3 here. The video for the compilation single, a cover of “Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You” is below:
Days after allegedly being on the receiving end of a haymaker from Kid Cudi during a show in Vancouver, 19 year-old Michael Sharpe called The RRS to explain why he won’t press charges, and how Cudi’s people may in fact be reaching out to him…
You know the premise by now – budding, raw talent builds following through social networking site, catches the eye of someone important, lands a record deal. Sean Kingston reached out to J.R. Rotem on MySpace, and then found the Island singer I-Yaz. MySpace is the same site that helped the career of Colbie Caillat. Priscilla Renea and Esmee Denters were both YouTube sensations before catching the eyes and ears of Capitol Records and Justin Timberlake, respectively.
Thing is, the story is becoming more and more common. While all the aforementioned artists have or are receiving airplay on mainstream radio – there are still others, waiting in the wings, with much more than a webcam to promote their talent.
The 23 year-old wrote, played, and sang for six years. She eventually decided YouTube might be the best outlet to perform, connect, and network until she could get discovered. Then in March of 2008, Kaprelian won an online contest for her cover of OneRepublic’s “Apologize.” Soon after, the band’s record label, Interscope, signed Tamar to a deal. —
— Almost two years later, Kaprelian will release her first LP, slated for February 2010. Tamar has split her time in the past 18 months between touring, writing, and charity work: the singer is just finishing a 30-day, 30-city tour for Feeding America. Kaprelian joined forces with the likes of David Arquette and The Cheesecake Factory for “Drive Out Hunger”, raising soup donations for the needy. After performing Saturday night in New York City, Kaprelian woke up at her usual 4 a.m. for the next stop – Edison, NJ. This is where I met up with her – to chat about the soup drive and the music projects – amidst the Menlo Park Mall – which echoed with the chants and cheers of caffeine-fueled workers accepting donations.
“I worked for Cheesecake Factory before I signed with Interscope,” revealed Kaprelian. “They’ve been so supportive of my music, and of my career, and so they asked me to get involved with this charity, and I said of course.” —
Part 1: Feeding America/Cheesecake Factory, OneRepublic Contest, YouTube
Part 2: “The Hills”, Armenian Heritage, Forthcoming LP
— The tour provides Kaprelian with quite the change of perspective. As we sat in an almost empty restaurant, people who worked a job she once held scurried about around us, setting tables and preparing for open.
“It is very surreal, but I feel very blessed,” Kaprelian said. At two different points during the interview, a server mistook us for two customers. Each time, Kaprelian stopped and thanked the person for attempting to wait on us, before informing them that we were just in the restaurant to take refuge from the noisy chambers of the mall.
Kaprelian wraps up the food drive on October 1, and then heads back to Los Angeles. She’s already worked on two tracks for the LP with OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder – one of which Tamar reveals is a duet with label mate and All-American Rejects lead singer Tyson Ritter.
“It’s gonna be a cool record… he’s so talented,” Kaprelian said of her time working with Ritter. The collaboration wasn’t her first encounter with AAR – she sang backup for the group on “Ellen”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, and “The Tonight Show.”
Butch Walker also contributes to the project, which is yet to be titled. Kaprelian seems to be mulling over three options – Delicate Soul, It Is What It Is, or Sinner Or Saint.
The title may not be chosen, but the first single is: Kaprelian confirmed that “New Day” will be the lead song from the album. The track gained notoriety when MTV featured it in the last scene of Season 5 on “The Hills” – the track served as Lauren Conrad’s swan song. Kaprelian told me that she knew it’d be in the finale, but had no clue as to how and when it would be heard.
“You hope (the song is) at the end,” said Kaprelian. “I was over the moon. We were in the sitting room, and my entire family and I were watching it, and it was just such a great moment.”
Tamar was born in Arizona and also raised in Georgia. Like me, she is proudly of Armenian descent. I even learned something during the interview: apparently Gwen Stefani is also Armenian.
“Family is important to us,” Kaprelian said. “(My family has been) beyond supportive. They’re really happy for me. I think they’re just proud that I get to do what I love to do every day.”
With the recent addition of a third song to iTunes, a radio promo tour set for January, and an LP to follow – the Kaprelian’s will have much to be supportive for, as Tamar will be doing what she loves on a daily basis for the foreseeable future.