Ellen hath no fury Crystal Swing singer Derek Burke insists DeGeneres is ‘really sound’
Crystal Swing singer Derek Burke insists under fire host is lovely and ‘really sound’
CRYSTAL Swing singer Derek Burke has joined a growing number of celebrities rushing to lend their support to embattled TV host Ellen DeGeneres.
The Cork star - who famously appeared on Ellen's show with his family in 2010 - describes her as "really sound" despite recent explosive allegations of a 'toxic' workplace.
Derek, who shot to fame when he was aged just 18 while singing a cover of He Drinks Tequila, is the latest well-known person this week to back Ellen, following in the footsteps of Katy Perry, Kevin Hart and Diane Keaton.
The "Be kind to one another" comedienne and talk-show host has been facing an onslaught of bad publicity after longstanding rumours of a toxic work environment surfaced publicly.
They culminated in recent weeks when ten former and current employees reported experiencing racism and intimidation whileworkingon the programme.
Show producers then said they were looking into the allegations and the NBC channel, on which the show airs in America, launched an internal investigation.
"From our perspective, we couldn't have been looked after better and that is the honest truth," Derek (29) tells the Sunday World. "They were as sound as a pound, everything like. They were really, really lovely, as in production-wise, and Ellen - not a bother with any of them."
Crystal Swing - a mother/son/daughter trio from Lisgoold in Co. Cork - tasted overnight success early in 2010 when their video cover of American country duo Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw's 2001 hit He Drinks Tequila became an internet sensation.
Ellen's production staff got to hear about the fuss they were causing online and remarkably asked them to perform on the hugely popular afternoon TV show.
"The thing about it was with us, Ellen initially wanted us on the show on St Patrick's Day," recalls Derek. "It was gas at the time to say 'oh no, look we're not available on that date'.
"We'd be on The Late Late Show one night, then doing a radio show the next day over the phone, we might have to be in studio again for RTE for some other show and then we'd be out playing that night.
"We were going from one thing to another. I suppose at the time when the Ellen show got on to us we were booked to play somewhere for Patrick's night. She kept on saying 'I want them on the show', so they rearranged for a date that would suit."
Derek reveals he found fame a bit of a whirlwind. "I was always playing away - but I would never have sampled that lifestyle where you're meeting so many celebrities and people are wanting your autographs and that kind of stuff," he smiles. "When we got catapulted into fame overnight, it was a new world for us and a new adjustment."
In April 2010, they eventually made it onto Ellen's show.
"We went to LA and we were treated like royalty," he beams. "We were put up in the best hotel. We met Ellen and she was lovely.
"We met Eva Longoria in the dressingroom. She was getting her make-up done at the same time as we were appearing on the same episode. There were people queueing up to see her and also people who were being recorded for another episode being filmed. It was really exciting."
The group played He Drinks Tequila on the show as well as doing a sit-down interview with Ellen. Derek also got to show his moves when he later performed the Hucklebuck, made famous here by the late Brendan Bowyer. "To be honest with you, we couldn't have had more of a positive experience on that show," he stresses. "We had a chat with her afterwards.
"Everybody wants to chat to Ellen and to get a photograph with her. She was asking us how things were going, just general questions. We got our photos and then that was it.
"I never saw any stress or arguments with her and her staff. If anything, it was the total opposite. It was just that everybody got on so well, everybody seemed so relaxed."
Derek can't recall if Ellen's wife, actress Portia de Rossi, whom she married in 2008, was in the studio.
"It was the one show that made us for the rest of our life," he insists. "That really catapulted us back here, for a small band like us to actually get on a show like that, sure that made us.
"Every day when I'd meet somebody, they'd ask 'what was Ellen like'. All the different presenters would have asked the same - and it was always the same, she was really sound." It was Derek's first time in America, although his mum Mary and sister Dervla had been in Florida before.
"After our appearance she played one of our songs again on the show a few weeks later, so we got three hits off her," he confesses.
Derek married his wife Claire McAuliffe two years ago and they now have a little boy, Ollie (seven months). His sister Dervla has two children, a four-year-old boy and a two-year old girl.
In recent years, Crystal Swing have limited their performances to maybe a dozen shows a year as they wanted to concentrate on raising their families
Derek adds: "It's hard to see a future with the music industry. Nobody knows what lies ahead for music... we are waiting to see what will come out of all this."