‘Random Girl’ gets invite from Ellen DeGeneres
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‘Random Girl’ gets invite from Ellen DeGeneres

Bubbly Zendee Rose Tenerife is on a roll.

She is leaving for Tinseltown sometime next week and will make her debut on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The 21-year old Zendee attracted the attention of popular TV host DeGeneres following her sensational rise to popularity via the most unconventional way.

A video clip of her on YouTube belting out a videoke of a Whitney Houston song outside a music store went viral.

She instantly became a YouTube sensation and  soon enough found herself ‘guesting’ on TV shows.  She became the  backpack-toting ‘Random Girl’ who wowed everyone else even though, weeks earlier, one reality TV show junked her for not possessing enough ‘star material’ to qualify in the final rounds.

One’s loss is another one’s gain

Zendee is no stranger to rejection.

She grew up with her grandmother as mother Jinky toiled overseas singing in bars and lounges.  Yes, she got her singing voice and wiry hair from her mother, who separated from Zendee’s father when the YouTube sensation was barely old enough to remember anything.

When Jinky was in town and between overseas contracts, she would arrive home often very late with Zendee already asleep.

In 2008, Zendee auditioned for a now defunct reality show of ABS-CBN where she bagged one of the two slots that would have advanced her into the nationwide elimination round.  By then, Zendee was already doing rounds in parties and other special occasions.

To say that Zendee and her mother were very excited when ABS-CBN beckoned was an understatement.  It then meant the whole world to them, especially the mother, who saw her singing as their way out of a more challenging existence.

But luck and destiny were not on their side.

For one reason or another, the reality show was cancelled and Zendee was dejected after a long and uncertain wait for the show’s promised notice that never came.

The two refused to accept failure and defeat, however.

Zendee would continue to audition at every opportunity to showcase her talent.

Unlike many local singers here in General Santos, Zendee possesses a personality uniquely her own.  That she can carry a tune is a given.  She can also dance and do spiels to keep the audience fixated on her.

Even at 21, she still exudes the innocence of a girl barely in her teens.

When she hit the ‘mini-jackpot’ and became popular via GMA 7, the rival TV station that promised her exposure then largely ignored her could only watch Zendee parade in other TV shows – all prime time.

Only girl

Jinky was a lounge singer who hopped from one resto bar to another.

She pinned all her hopes on Zendee to make up for her own frustration as an artist and as a mother.

She now no longer sings for a living.  She quit singing professionally to give full-time direction to her daughter’s career that she did not have when she was starting as a singer herself.

She frowned when Zendee had her first boyfriend.

She would call and text friends in the dead of the night and said she would not like to see Zendee fail like her.

She resisted any attempt to have Zendee perform and join bands.

At one point, a group of bank officials saw Zendee perform and invited her to their Christmas party in Manila.  Jinky pointed to me as their manager!  That was my greatest laugh with the mother and daughter tandem who often would ask me to invite them to a local bar owned by a friend so that Zendee could sing – for free.

She was immediately offered a slot to perform in the bar but Jinky, now a wary ‘stage mother’, politely declined.

She preferred that Zendee just do gigs while her daughter finishes her college.  But bringing her child to college was also a tall order for a jobless single parent.

In 2010, Jinky and Zendee found ready helping hands from Manny Pacquiao who was then running for congressman in Sarangani.  Pacquiao would shoulder the cost of Zendee’s remaining years in college.

Zendee was always the accommodating performing artist.  The only time she was not able to honor an invitation from me was when she was out of town.  She sang for the Notre Dame of Lagao High School Batch 1977 reunions in 2009 and 2011 for token fees.  Everybody in the batch loved the mother and daughter duo, who belted out the Barbara Streisand-Celine Dion song “Tell Him.”  Zendee also front acted for classical and jazz artists Jenny de Vera (of Triple Fret) and her boyfriend when the two performed for a charity show for our batch in November 2011.

In 2012, Jinky’s little Zendee finally graduated.

Then came that Youtube clip.

Hollywood, here she comes

When word got out that Ellen DeGeneres was asking around about her, Zendee excitedly posted on her Facebook account about a possible appearance at the show’s studio in Warner Bros. in Burbank, California.

On Saturday, Jinky said she would gladly treat me whenever I will be in Manila.  That is if they are still in Manila by then.

I asked why?

She said they are going to the US Embassy for a visa interview on Tuesday.

They are going to the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Zendee is now going big time.