|6/5/2014 6:02:00 AM|
Apollo has liftoff: L-P grad hits it big with record deal
Friends at L-P knew him as Brandon Pope. The Oglesby teen was a gifted singer who performed the national anthem at Cavaliers games and had the talent to one day make it to the big time.
He has. Brendan Apollo, the stage name he adopted, releases a four-song EP titled “Clouds” (available for pre-order on iTunes) this coming Monday. The R&B singer said Wednesday he hopes to soon stage a performance back home in the Illinois Valley.
“That will be another moment where I’ll feel accomplished,” Apollo said in a phone interview from his home in New York City, where he’s lived since 2008. “I’ll feel extremely happy to perform (at home). I want to perform there more than anywhere else.”
Apollo, 30, recently signed a multi-million deal with Young Swaggazar Entertainment (YSE) in collaboration with Industrial Motion Pictures (IMP), according to PRNewswire.
“I’m more than excited,” Apollo said of the forthcoming EP release, “but I think there’s always another level, so I’ve never had that feeling of, ‘Oh, this is it. I’ve made it.’”
People at La Salle-Peru Township High School, where he was an honors student and played defense end for the Cavs football team, remember Apollo for his remarkable vocal ability.
“Brandon was one of those young men who, when you listened to him sing, it was hard to believe that voice was coming from a high school body,” recalled principal Deb Nelson. “I’m thrilled to death he’s continued to pursue his singing career. I’ll be one of the first to download him on iTunes.”
Former L-P football coach Greg Sarver said he’s “not surprised at all” Apollo has enjoyed success with music. Apollo, he recalled, was an undersized athletic player who got to the ball in a hurry — and he sang with the same level of intensity.
“I’m really happy for him,” Sarver said. “He’s a great young man. He was very passionate about what he did.”
While studying at Illinois State University, where he graduated in 2007, Apollo sang in regional talent competitions modeled after “American Idol.”
At age 18, for example, he came up just short at Chicago’s House of Blues in the KISS 103.5 “Chicago Idol” finals. His grandmother, Joyce Sroka of Oglesby, remembered that a judge encouraged him to better showcase his obvious vocal range and commented, “You’re not too hard on the eyes.”
“I’m so proud of him,” Sroka said. “I’ve always known he was going to make it.”
Apollo grew up belting out R&B classics by Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross at home. By 10, he was writing his own songs.
Apollo said one of his proudest moments was escorting Sroka and other family members to record release parties in Los Angeles and from Las Vegas. “A huge milestone,” he said.
Apollo wrote and co-produced the four songs on “Clouds,” which include the title track, “Apollo Rising,” “Song of the Summer” and “Through the Night.”
Music videos for all four tracks are in post-production and will be posted on his official YouTube channel this summer.
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
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