By Allison Collins
GILBERTSVILLE – Eleven-year-old rising country music artist and Gilbertsville native Rylee Lum recently took a promising shot at TV stardom on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Lum’s manager and founder of Rising Star Productions Jake Cotten said the Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton sixth-grader was a standout in a group of local talent that traveled to the Dec. 17 auditions held in Manhattan’s Javits Center.
Cotten said he expects to hear definitively whether or not Lum made the show by late January, but called Lum’s mid-December audition process exceptional.
“Rylee went in and he did his song and then they had him do three more songs,” Cotten said, “and then, before he walked out the door, they stopped him again (and) brought him back in with three other producers.” After performing several more songs, Cotten said, the “miniature George Strait” was escorted to a taping session where he performed on camera and was later interviewed, all steps that left Cotten feeling hopeful for the young country crooner.
“There was a whole bunch (of talent) that went from this area,” Cotten said, “but of all (who) went down from here, he was the only one who got a second audition.”
Recalling a producer’s aside to him, Cotten said, “The words were, ‘few people get a second audition and even fewer people make it to recording and very, very few make it to the interview room.’” If Rylee is, in fact, called back in early 2018, Cotten said, the next step will be a trip to Los Angeles.
Cotten said his client is cautiously optimistic.
Cotten said, “He’s excited, but he’s also trying not to get too excited in case something happens and he doesn’t get on.”
Cotten said Rylee, who comes from a long line of musicians, will stay busy between now and then recording his first EP.
“We’re in the studio all this week,” Cotten said, noting that the forthcoming album will include seven tracks, all written by Rylee.
“He writes all his own music (and) he is also a phenomenal guitar player,” Cotten said. “He really is a musical genius. I’ve been involved in music my whole life and never met anyone like him.”
Rylee, a self-taught instrumentalist, has been playing and singing for a little over two years. He gets help with lyric writing from his father Matt, often while milking cows on the family dairy farm.
Matt Lum called the America’s Got Talent process “very exciting,” but said, whatever his son does musically, he and his wife Amber are always proud.
“We’re very proud of him,” he said. “Each time he learns new stuff and performs it, it just makes us very proud.”
Rylee attributed his musical aptitude to his family’s longstanding traditions within the country genre.
“It kind of runs in my family with country music, so I just kind of picked up on it,” he said. “I like performing in front of a crowd and music is just my thing.”
Rylee’s advice for aspiring young musicians and singers? “Keep practicing and keep going for it. You can’t ever stop.”
To learn more about Rylee Lum and his forthcoming EP “Country in Me,” visit ryleelum.com of find Rising Star Productions on Facebook.