Justin Rhodes grew up around music. His mother was a professional singer for most of her life, and his father taught him how to play the piano at just three-years-old. The Buffalo native has stunned the judges on America’s Got Talent with his smooth vocals this summer, and will face them again during Judgment Week tonight.
Here’s what you need to know about him.
1. A Former Friend Posted A Mean Facebook Comment About Him After His AGT Appearance
When Rhodes left for NYC to pursue music, he performed with a local musician named Tom Sartori, who posted a horrible rant “questioning just about everything that Rhodes said on TV and added some negative things about Rhodes’ character.” The post has since been removed at his mother’s request.
When asked to respond to what Sartori said, Rhodes simply stated:
I have no comment on them. When someone is in the limelight, that’s just what happens.
Rhodes seems to think that comments like these are going to accompany his rising stardom, but the specifics of his relationship with Sartori are still unknown.
2. He Has Used Drugs
Sartori’s first post, which has been taken off Facebook, hinted at the fact that Rhodes’ lied about ever using drugs, but the singer merely said:
I’ve used drugs. That’s the short answer. It became a problem, yes.
While no more comments have been made about his drug usage, Rhodes’ family has inevitably supported his ambition to pursue music on AGT, as seen by his fathers’ tears watching him perform.
Justin Rhodes profile on his D Bailey Management page describes him as a
R&B/Soul/Pop singer out of Buffalo, NY. Smooth vocals and striking presence make this show a must see. Playing piano since the age of 3, singing since the age of 13, Justin’s talent exceeds his years, going far beyond what you’d expect from a 23 year old from Buffalo.
3. He Almost Became a PE Teacher
Mauren Reilly, Rhodes’ former vocal coach, told Buffalo News that Rhodes planned on going to Cortland State to become a PE teacher but missed music too much to follow through with the job.
Reilly also recalled that Rhodes’ first appearance on stage in high school was for a production of Beauty and the Beast, where he played the Beast.
He got his initial love to perform here
When he first performed on America’s Got Talent, Howard Stern couldn’t believe the 23-year-old’s father had never seen him sing on stage. Rhodes’ has admitted that since the episode first aired, he’s received other skeptical comments from people who don’t believe his story on the show. When he spoke to Buffalo News, he said,
I’ve gotten a few comments about what Howard Stern said. I’m not sure about this but all the contestants have kind of speculated – the judges are guided on what to say to us. There are times that they so happen to touch on the most important part of our story and what is going to draw the biggest audience. And they just so happened to touch on that.
4. He’s Received Calls From Record Companies
Rhodes told Buffalo News that after his performance on AGT, he’s already received calls from record companies and people in studios.
I’ve already gotten calls from record companies and people in studios who want to work with me so in a sense you are right I have already won.
The Buffalo native has been living in Tampa for three years, and plays at the Hard Rock Casino up to five nights a week. He told News Channel 8,
A lot of musicians say they hate playing certain songs because they’re so overdone. For me, when everything comes together beautifully: the harmonies are there, everything’s together. That’s what makes it for me.
5. The Producers of AGT Set Up a Private Audition For Him
The 24-year-old singer has never taken a music lesson, but nonetheless decided to pursue this dream after attending SUNY College at Cortland and realizing it wasn’t for him, according to News Channel 8.
His cover of John Legend’s All of Me has over 1 million views, and when the producers of AGT saw it, they set up a private audition for him in Orlando. He told News Channel 8,
A few of the people I’ve met being at the auditions with them – their careers – even just from being on one episode – has taken them from a couple hundred viewers and followers to 15,000,” Justin said. “So I’m hoping that this first episode can kind of jump start things.