WATCH: Syracuse Area Father Daughter Duo Perform on Ellen Show
You may have seen the video for yourself by now, it's gone viral. 5-year-old Violet Burdick and her dad Ryan from Jamesville, NY were featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show this past Monday, November 30th.
The journey its self is one that Ryan said is "a blessing and a very special memory to share" with his daughter.
As a musician himself, Ryan Burdick got started on his journey with his own father. His grandparents got him his first guitar for his 9th birthday after he tried "selling" them home recorded cassette tapes of every radio song he knew by heart into the boom box at home. His father got a guitar at the same time so they could learn together. By the time he was 12, he was performing with his dad on stage and his dad was writing songs.
"My whole life I sorta realized that it was sort of a gift my dad gave to me so to me, it seems like it's the kind of thing you pay forward. It's been something that served me really well throughout my life. It's not just a hobby for me, or a passion, but a connection to others. It's how I've met some of the most important people in my life. It's a gift I'm super super happy to be able to pass on to my child."
Ryan didn't "teach" Violet music but it's something that is an active part of the household. They're always singing, listening to music, playing guitar. Music is something that he thinks come naturally to Violet with how actively musical the family is.
So he and Violet exactly did they get the opportunity to be on the Ellen Show? Ryan says his little sister is responsible. And right up until they were contacted by the show, he had no idea a video of him and Violet performing was even sent. It was a secret.
"The way that Ellen picked up on us was that my sister sent her producers a link to a video on Facebook that went viral over the summer. Violet performed with me at Heritage Hill Brewery in Pompey and that went viral on Facebook. They saw that."
That performance was posted on Facebook in July. Over the next few weeks, the video went viral and that's when Ryan's sister sent in the video. She didn't hear anything back for several weeks and then the producers called her.
"She called me freaking out. We're cooking dinner one night and I get a call from my sister in a panic. She was like "Uhhh, so I did something and I hope that you're not gonna be mad but I just got off the phone with the producers of the Ellen DeGeneres show and they're gonna be calling you in ten minutes." We talked to the producer on the phone and had a Zoom meeting that same night so we could sing for her and so she could get to know Violet and ask her some questions."
From there, the producer asked them to send some more videos to get to know Ryan and Violet a little bit more. Some were to answer questions, some videos were performing more Dolly Parton songs, and introducing them. From there, the producers of the show knew the father daughter duo needed to come to LA.
"For a bit there was talk about doing it over Zoom. But after one of the videos was filmed, they were like 'nope, we definitely want to meet this kid in person.'"
Violet and Ryan were asked to follow strict COVID-19 procedures prior to their arrival in California. They had their noses swabbed multiple times and had to quarantine before they could get on the show.
"So we quarantined before we got on the plane in our home, but then we had to quarantine for 4 days in the hotel before we could step on set. We were tested right away upon arriving."
Ryan said the show overall was very accommodating and positive. All of the staff was very upbeat. He explained that they ended up working with a different producer than originally assigned, and she was "very bubbly and hit it off with Violet. It's like she had her own hype person." By the time they went to be on stage, they were excited and comfortable.
According to Ryan, Violet's most favorite part about doing the show was meeting Ellen before their appearance. He says the producer took them to Ellen's dressing room area prior to the show and Ellen came out to talk to Violet.
"I thought it was pretty cool. She got down to eye level and had a conversation. They sorta got to know each other - talked about animals, the trip here, and after that talk Violet felt more comfortable so that the first time she saw Ellen wasn't on the big stage with all the bright lights and cameras."
Ryan and his family received many messages after the visit to the show, all positive, about how the performance made so many people smile.
"During a time like this, being able to make so many people happy has been really incredible. Violet is a really funny kid. She's smart, spunky, silly and it's really rewarding to me to see that the world is getting even just the smallest glimpse of the joy that this kid brings us every day."
After the adorable performance, Ellen surprised Violet and her family with an all expenses paid trip to Dollywood in Tennessee courtesy of Ellen and Shutterfly. Not only will they be enjoying that, but they will be continuing to sing and play music.
"I'm a performing musician and that's not going away. As much as I can, I want to keep this about performing live. In the summer, she would come up on stage with me and sing. Now that my gigs have dried up because of the seasonal change, I'm not playing shows. So we'll be doing Facebook Lives and stuff like that. My biggest concern is that I don't want this to turn into a "tween" who likes to sing who is obsessing over her followers on social media. I'm a teacher, I work with teenagers every day and can see how toxic that is. So I want to keep it rewarding and show her the importance of seeing the joy you can bring to others by connecting with them live, and seeing them in the audience."
Ryan is hoping he can soon give Violet an outlet to use her talents. He said instrument lessons may be coming, possibly getting her involved in community theater.
"She has a natural talent so I want her to be able to give her that."
You can find Ryan (and Violet) on YouTube. And who knows, maybe you'll see them on the Ellen Show again. Ryan says it's not out of the realm of possibility.
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