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Singer Lands Contract After Gay Proposal Vid Goes Viral

by David  Perry
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Monday Sep 30, 2013
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You would have to be living under a rock to have missed the video of Spencer Stout proposing to his boyfriend, Dustin Reeser, in a Salt Lake City Home Depot. Brought to the store under the pretense of buying decorations for a party, Reeser found himself in the middle of a flashmob dance routine, complete with friends and family, before Stout, who had been hiding in another aisle while the action unfolded, appeared and got down on one knee (Reeser said "yes," in case you didn’t know).

Posted on Sept. 11 to YouTube, the video instantly went viral, hitting over a million views on the first day and stands at over 10 million as of this writing, with supporters chiming in from as far away as Greece. The video quickly made the rounds on BuzzFeed and E!, leading up to Stout and Reeser appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show Sept. 20.

While Stout and Reeser received the lion’s share of the publicity - and a honeymoon in Australia courtesy of DeGeneres - the positive fallout from their video continues to reach far beyond TV and the Internet: Betty Who, the singer to whose effervescent anthem "Somebody Loves You" Stout & Co. used to choreographed the event, landed a recording contract with RCA Europe - just three days after the video was uploaded.

Sitting down with EDGE, the Australian songstress described the whirlwind of activity that has followed since.

"I was in my hairdressers!" says Betty, real name: Jessica Anne Newham, when she first saw Stout’s proposal. "I was literally sitting underneath the heaters when I got a text from my manager saying, ’I’m watching a flash mob marriage proposal in a Home Depot to your song!’ At first I was, like, ’why are you in a Home Depot?’"

When she watched the video, her reaction was similar to many. "I watched it and I cried, I mean, just weeping in this hair salon. This was the most beautiful thing I ever saw."

What happened next, however, took her completely by surprise.

"The next time I opened the video up to show my friends a couple hours later, it already had 100,000 views and all I could think was, ’What happened?’" she recalls. "When I was going to bed that night, it was already over a million. It was insane."


The Road to Discovery

Even in the annals of viral videos, Stout’s marriage proposal was particularly quick, so much so that the 21-year-old Betty and her team had to go back and chart exactly how it played out. Curiously enough, Betty was one of the last people to find out what Stout had planned for her song, explaining that it was her manager who did most of the corresponding.

"My manager got an e-mail from Spencer, saying that he was going to propose to his boyfriend, and if they could use my song," Betty explains, adding that Stout assured her team the resulting video wouldn’t be used for commercial purposes. "And my manager said sure, go for it. And a week and a half ago, he got the private link to the video. Originally, we had given permission without really realizing what it was for, and then the video happened, and we were, like, ’Oh, my gosh!’"

While her growing fandom draws a parallel between Betty in the hair salon and Lana Turner at the soda fountain, the Sydney native demurs, allowing only that the video galvanized a process that was, serendipitously, already underway.

"We had be talking to a couple different people about signing," she is quick to note. Already well-known in New York clubs such as the Knitting Factory, the singer explains how she already spoke to RCA executives in early this summer, "Somebody Loves You" having been made available on-line since last year.

"And then the video went viral, everybody thought somebody should be capitalizing on this and someone should be in charge for leading its force for us," the musician said. "So it just sped everything up, as opposed to being like, ’Oh, she had a viral video happen? We have to sign her!’ It expedited the process."

Signing her contract last week, Betty admits that everything is still falling into place, both with her own team and that at RCA.

"We’re all playing catch-up a little bit," she says, "trying to keep up with the rate at which ’Somebody Loves You’ is getting exposure. Now we are figuring out what exactly the next step is; hopefully that will be radio."

But beyond those immediate steps, Betty Who is still in the heady realm all artists enter with their first contract, with the possibility of fame and having "made it" become that much more concrete of a reality.

"I’m just so excited and overwhelmed...and freaking out a little bit," she laughs. "It really hasn’t even sunk in yet for me what is going on. I don’t know if any of us really know what is going to happen."

Check out the music video for Betty Who’s "Somebody Loves You" and Stout and Reeser’s viral video below:





Author’s note:

RCA and millions of YouTube views aren’t the only ones registering Betty’s talent. Count VH1’s "Big Morning Buzz Live" as one more step in her ascendancy: On Oct. 2, the singer took to the airwaves, belting out "Somebody Loves You." In the audience where the two men themselves, Spencer and Dustin Stout-Reeser, that set the whole ball rolling.

"I ended up actually taking them out to dinner the night of my performance and we got to talk for a couple hours," Betty says, her eyes lighting up. "It was AMAZING; they’re the sweetest, and I got a little starstruck because I’ve watched the video so many times!"

Having been officially introduced to the world, Betty Who reflected on everything that has happened, and perhaps, will happen.

"It’s unreal when I think about how many people there are in the world who could change my life in a heartbeat," she tells EDGE. "I was so grateful just to be able to go out with them and thank them for all they’ve done for me and for being, in a lot of ways, the face of true love."

David Perry is a freelance travel and news journalist. In addition to EDGE, his work has appeared on ChinaTopix, Thrillist, and in Next Magazine and Steele Luxury Travel among others. Follow him on Twitter at @GhastEald.

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