Richmond drummer takes center stage in Beyonce performance

Richmond drummer takes center stage in Beyonce performance
Ty Onley plays drums next to Beyonce
Ty Onley (Source: NBC12)
Ty Onley (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond man is flying high after he took center stage as a drummer during Beyonce's recent Coachella performance.

The Huguenot High School grad says this opportunity was years in the making. Ty Onley has been drumming on everything for as long as he can remember.

"There's nothing that makes me happier than sitting behind the drums," he said.

He says the experience is more than just a line on his resume and still feels unreal.

"When you see somebody from Richmond, from Richmond Public Schools do a performance, with the biggest entertainer of our time, hopefully it inspires you to keep going," he said.

Onley has performed internationally, but when he got a call from a contact he met at another opportunity years ago, he had to move cross country and keep the news top secret - he couldn't even tell his family!

"They trust me enough, and they know that if I'm leaving within two-days notice, then it's for a reason," Onley said.

The shining moment came at two o'clock in the morning during the Coachella live stream.

He says his wife and daughter's reactions made it all worth it. They stayed up in the middle of the night pacific time to see Onley perform on the pacific coast.

The Norfolk State grad says he wouldn't have caught Beyonce's eye, had it not been for his time as a drummer at the historically-black college.

"All of the high schools when we were coming up, we mimicked Norfolk State, because they were that staple of precision," he said.

He now works along side his former band director at Meadowbrook high school. He remembers Onley's tenacity from a young age.

"I thought he'd be the best role model for my students," his former director, William Prentiss said.

Onley's message to any aspiring musician is clear:

"I don't care if no one believes in you. You have to believe in yourself."

Onley says he's being considered for other high-profile gigs.

Another Virginia local is also making headlines following Beyonce's Coachella performance.

Brianna Bundick-Kelly, a Virginia State University computer science major, recreated Beyonce's dance routines on Instagram - her performance netted her tens of thousands of followers, even a spot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

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