10 year old Vedder Gabriel has become something of a celebrity singing with famous people ranging from Jared Leto to Chris Stapleton! He joined Beth & friends on the air to talk about his experiences and his support for Charity Water, bring clean water to people in need. Listen to the on-air segments and read Vedder's amazing story below ..
Help donate with Vedder to Charity Water-- CLICK HERE!
When Vedder Gabriel was 7, Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto plucked him from the audience, where he'd been sitting on his father's shoulders, to join him on "Night of the Hunter" at 30 Seconds to Mars' inaugural Camp Mars music festival in Malibu, California.
"I sang but I didn’t sing," recalls the young singer whose hair was fashioned in a bright green Mohawk the day of that concert before clarifying, "Well, I sang but really quietly."
It was his first time on stage, after all.
He's had plenty of opportunities to get comfortable sharing the stage with his musical heroes since then.
This past summer at Ak-Chin Pavilion marked the third time Leto had invited Gabriel, now 10, to join him in the spotlight.
And by that point, he was fast becoming something of a fixture on the Phoenix concert scene, singing "Tennessee Whiskey" with Chris Stapleton, "Know Your Enemy" with Green Day, "Dead and Bloated" with Stone Temple Pilots and "Last Time for Everything" with Brad Paisley.
It wasn't long after this summer's performance at Ak-Chin Pavilion that Gabriel was back on stage at Camp Mars, where he danced to "Rescue Me" and Leto told the crowd "He's a born lead singer."
Those words meant the world to Gabriel, who's sitting in the music room in his family's Peoria home wearing gold sequined pants and a T-shirt that features a picture of him and Leto on stage from that first time.
"I think he likes me a lot," he says of Leto. "I believe in him and he believes in me, I guess."
His real last name is Ellis.
But that first name is no stage name.
He was named for Eddie Vedder.
As Desiree Ellis, his mother, recalls, it was her sister Angela's idea.
"But I didn’t know," she says, "until the nurses kept hearing this high-pitched hum somewhere and they were asking, ‘What machine is on? What am I hearing?' And you hear Vedder in his Isolette just humming, like, this high-pitched hum. It was just weird because they were looking for something and they couldn’t find it, couldn’t find it, and they were like, 'Come listen. It’s your kid.'”
An Isolette is a brand of incubator for premature or other newborn infants, providing controlled temperature, humidity, and oxygen levels with armholes through which the child can be reached with minimum disturbance to the controlled environment.
Vedder and twin sister Winter were born premature.
"It was awful," his mother recalls of the pregnancy. "I knew it was gonna be hard because there wasn’t enough room for them. From 15 to 20 weeks, I was on mild bed rest. Then from 20 to 31 weeks, I was on complete bed rest. I went into pre-term labor at 24 weeks and then again at 28 weeks. They finally came at 31 weeks."
Winter was born with a hole in her heart and had open-heart surgery at five months.
Vedder developed necrotizing enterocolitis, a debilitating bowel disease, at two weeks.
"The doctors gave him a 30 percent chance of survival," Vedder's father, Eric Ellis, says. "So he was really sick and for two weeks in the ICU, he was held without food, just TPN and lipids, a binky and lullaby renditions of Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, for music therapy."
They shared their story on a Pearl Jam online forum, Eric says, and had thousands of Pearl Jam fans from around the world praying for Vedder.
When they brought Vedder home from the hospital, Desiree says, he was crying a lot.
"They kept telling me 'You have a colicky baby.’ I told them 'This is not colic. He’s in pain.' And then he started to throw up and we took him into the emergency room and he was obstructed."
At two months, he had surgery on his intestine.
"For him being so sick when he was a baby, he doesn’t have any long-lasting stomach issues," Desiree says. "And Winnie, you would think would have issues and restrictions on activity but she doesn’t. Her heart looks great."
Desiree also suffered complications from the pregnancy.
"She lost a lot of blood and her hemoglobin went down to three," Eric says. "They gave her a blood transfusion in the middle of the night and she went into anaphylactic shock because she was allergic to the immunoglobulins in the blood, which is pretty rare. If I hadn’t felt her shaking because I was laying at the foot of the bed, she probably wouldn’t have woken up."
Having almost lost his wife and newborn twins at 30 was what Eric calls an a-ha moment.
"These are miracle kids," he says.
"They shouldn’t be here. They’re medical miracles. So Desiree and I, we're jocks. We’re not musicians or artists. We don’t have those talents or abilities. But we knew early on if they were gonna show an interest in something, we were gonna go all in. Not to win, but just because we’re grateful we’re all here."
As a result, they're always learning something new, says Desiree. "If we go to the bookstore or the library, he picks out books like 'Who is Stevie Wonder?' 'Who is Elton John?' 'Who is Bob Marley?'”
The only thing that seemed to soothe him when he was younger was music.
"I just listened and it moved me," Vedder says. "It moved my veins. It’s just inspiring. You know how music can make you feel different feelings? That's what I like about it. When I get all sad, I’ll listen to music and it goes away, I guess."