January 31, 2014

Lorde gets baseball autographed by George Brett from Rachel Ropp of Raymore

Rachel Ropp simply can’t believe what’s happened to her over the last few months. Among other things, she got to hang with the world’s biggest stars at the Grammy Awards and present the baseball to Lorde, whose song “Royals,” inspired by an old photo of Brett, won song of the year Sunday.

In case you wanted to know, Cinderella lives in Raymore.

Her name is Rachel Ropp, and she simply can’t believe what’s happened to her over the last few months. Among other things, she got to design furniture for the Grammy Awards, hang with the world’s biggest stars and personally give a George Brett-autographed baseball to Lorde, whose song “Royals,” inspired by an old photo of Brett, won song of the year at Sunday’s ceremonies.

“Isn’t this

wild?” Ropp squealed through the phone on Friday. “This is just amazing!

OK, rewind.

Ropp isn’t exactly a glitz-and-glamour gal.

“I’m just a stay-at-home mom with three kids,” she said. “I drive a minivan, wear a tool belt, rain boots, a ponytail and no makeup.”

And yet three days before the Grammys, she was kissed by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and met L.L. Cool J, Daft Punk’s Nile Rodgers, Neil Patrick Harris and Kacey Musgraves, among other celebrities.


It all started with her desire to model charitable behavior for her 11-year-old son, West, who plays on a fifth-grade football team, the Ray-Pec Monsters. Ropp is a self-taught designer who for the past 11 years has turned “trash into treasure” through her home business, Revamp Revive. To help the team raise money for a local woman with breast cancer, Ropp took an armoire that was gathering dust and, with help from daughters Naomi and Cora, painted it turquoise and gray.

“I just rock-starred it out,” she said. “Did it the way I’d want it.” She put a photo of it on Facebook.

Another football parent, Tim McElliott, then shared the post. As fate would have it, McElliott’s cousin is Pam Morrison, a Northland real estate agent who also works for a Los Angeles company that, among other things, produces the Grammy preshow event where celebrities and other bigwigs get their free swag.

Morrison loved Ropp’s work. Months later, she called and asked if Ropp could produce a cool, designer barn-wood table to display the swag in the so-called Gifting Lounge, held under a tent outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“Sure,” Ropp said.

“Great,” Morrison said. “We need 20 of them.”

But Morrison didn’t stop there. She also asked Ropp to make the centerpiece for the lounge. She sent Ropp a picture of what she wanted, asking if she could turn a piano into a fountain, with water streaming down the keys.

“Yeah!” Ropp said.

Her heart pounded like a jackhammer. She had never attempted anything on this scale. Her humble home business had always just been a way to help out with the family finances, to pay for shoes and dental appointments.

Then the big-time came calling.

“I didn’t know how to do this,” she said. “But I said, ‘I


going to do this.’ This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

She finished everything with the help of friend Mark Richmond of Kingsville, Mo., then drove the fountain, as well as the tables, to Los Angeles in a white trailer pulled by husband Trent’s pickup.

Before she went, though, she had an idea. Since she was representing the Midwest, she figured, why not bring Lorde an autographed George Brett baseball? After all, the 17-year-old New Zealander got the idea for her song “Royals” after seeing a 1976 National Geographic photo of Brett in his Royals jersey, signing baseballs for a crowd of fans.

Ropp called the Royals management, who gave her one of the Brett-autographed baseballs they keep for such occasions.

And then it happened. Three days before the Grammys, at the Gifting Lounge, she met Lorde — real name Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor — and gave her the baseball, protected in a clear plastic case.

“I’m from Kansas City, and I heard that George Brett, who is one of our Kansas City Royals, inspired your song,” Ropp told her.

Lorde smiled and thanked her.

“I ended up hugging her,” Ropp said. “My husband said the only time she smiled was with me. The mommy in me just wanted to put my big wings around her and hold her and say, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ Because it’s a big world out there, and the media can be brutal.”

The baseball helped ease the pressure.

“She was just beside herself,” Ropp said. “She was like ‘This is so cool!’ 

“And Lorde was so nice. Her mom and dad and brother were there, too. I told them if they ever come to Kansas City, they can hang with me.”

As for Brett?

“That’s a great story,” he told The Star on Friday. He said he did not remember having his picture taken for the now-iconic shot. And he has never met Lorde, but he’d like to one day. He’s proud to be the inspiration for a Grammy winner.

“Feels great,” he said. “Kind of cool.” And he likes the song.

Then he laughed.

“She’s like 17,” he said. “She doesn’t know who I am.”

Actually, Ropp said, that’s not true.



know who George Brett is,” Ropp said. “And so did her parents. They think he’s great.”

In addition to hiring Ropp to design the furniture, Morrison also gave her the opportunity to offer the celebrities a personal consultation for her custom services.

A few have begun to contact her.

Now she wants to share her good fortune.

“I feel like this is bigger than just me,” she said. “My whole goal is to make contacts in L.A. and bring jobs to the Midwest,” she said. “We have tons of people who have great skills. If I could be a conduit for them, that’s a win-win.”

Said Morrison: “If she hadn’t have been so wonderful, and I hadn’t have heard so many great things about her from my cousin, there’s a million people I could have given this opportunity to,” she said. “But I wanted to give it to Rachel. And I wanted to bring it home to Kansas City. It’s about time we show off some of our Midwest artists, and take them to the world.”

For Ropp, it was more than she ever could have hoped for: “I really do feel like this is my Cinderella moment.”

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