Sheer talent, perseverance and dedication – these are the marks of someone who would be able to survive in a cutthroat field such as the music industry. Many have tried but only few were able to make it big, particularly in developed countries where musical talents abound. There are several Filipino singers who are destined for the bigger stage. And their musicality makes them crowd drawers wherever they perform.
It’s a modern world and there are now more avenues for someone to be discovered. While singing competitions are almost everywhere, video sharing sites like YouTube contribute to make some aspiring and established Filipino singers very popular not only in the Philippines but around the world as well. There’s Arnel Pineda who became the lead singer of the American band Journey and Charice Pempengco (better known as Charice), the little woman with a big voice.
She is such an exceptional talent. At age seven she was already starting theatre work, debuting in Repertory Philippines’ production of the “King and I.” She got the lead role in “Annie” soon after and worked in other theatre productions like “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Sound of Music” and the “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” At age ten she already had recorded and released “Small Voice,” her first album. She later hosted her own TV show and was part of the cast of several family-oriented movies in the Philippines. Her talent had been distinguished early, leading to numerous prestigious awards. She was the opening act for international artists Menudo (1985) and Stevie Wonder (1988).
Lea Salonga is a soprano. At age 18 she was chosen among thousands to play the role of Kim in the theatre musical, “Miss Saigon,” which had a very extended run. Her performance in the musical earned her a Tony, Outer Critics, Olivier, Theatre World and Drama Desk awards. She was also outstanding as the first Asian actress to ever play the roles of Fantine and Éponine in the Broadway musical “Les Misérables.” She was the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin in 1992 and Fa Mulan in Mulan in 1998 and Mulan II in 2004. Disney named her in 2011 as a Disney Legend for her contributions to the company.
Video sharing sites contributed to the discovery and success of other Filipino musical talents. Arnel Pineda was already an established singer-songwriter in the Philippines. He had formed and sang with different bands, and had years spent performing for audiences in Hong Kong, shuttling to Manila and Hong Kong for other singing engagements and solo recordings. One of his avid followers began taking videos of his performances and uploading them on YouTube on February 2007 where he was shown singing cover versions of songs of Journey, Air Supply, Aerosmith, Scorpions and other bands. On June 2007 he received an email from Neal Schon of Journey although he thought of it as a hoax. When he was finally persuaded to send a reply, Neal Schon called him ten minutes later, asked him to audition for Journey in Marin County in August and by December 2007, he officially became the lead singer of the legendary U.S. rock band, Journey, replacing Steve Perry. His first performance with Journey was at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Chile on February 2008.
The same online venue launched the musical career of powerhouse singer, Charice Pempengco. Charice was trained by her mother who was also a singer since she was young at her insistence. By age four she was already joining singing competitions. Videos of her were uploaded by an avid supported in 2007.
Mid-year in 2007 Charice was invited by a Swedish publishing company, TenSOngs/Productions for a 7-song demo recording. October of that same year she was invited by Star King, a South Korean talent show where she sang “And I Am Telling You” by Jennifer Halliday. She also sang “A Whole New World” with Super Junior’s Kyuhyun. It was the video of her appearance on Star King that led to the on-air invitation to sing in the Ellen DeGeneres show. She came in December and after her U.S. TV debut, she was voted the “Most Requested Foreign Act” and made another guest appearance on Star King. Overall, she made four appearances in the hit South Korean talent show, wowing audiences and top South Korean musical talents as well. When 2008 rolled in Charice was making a round of international appearances such as in The Paul O’Grady Show in London, The Oprah Winfrey Show in the U.S. Oprah Winfrey was so impressed with her talent that she contacted David Foster after that show and by May she was already performing with him.
Charice has made great strides in her career, for she’s not only performed with David Foster, she’s also sang together with Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, had a stint in “Glee” and held shows and concerts in several key cities in the U.S., Europe and Asia. She had released two international albums, “Charice” (2010) and “Infinity” (2011). The single, “Infinity” for her international debut album featured rapper, dancer and singer/songwriter Iyaz from the British Virgin Islands. The single “Before It Explodes” from her album Infinity was written and produced by Ari Levine and Bruno Mars of The Smeezingtons.
“Charice,” her first international album made it to the Billboard 200 chart, debuting at Number 8, which made Charice the first and the only singer from Asia to land in the Top 10 of the said chart.
Although now married and residing in Texas, Jocelyn Enriquez is still very active in the music business. Both of her parents are from Pangasinan, a province in the Philippines. She grew up in San Francisco.
She was still in high school when she started singing, with an all-girl group called “Pinay Divas” in reference to the then hit all-girl quartet En Vogue. She released her debut album in 1994 under Classified Records, entitled “Lovely.” Two years later she signed up with Tommy Boy Records. She first released a single, “Do You Miss Me?” which became a hit and her name became a household word. That was in 1996. She released her second album, a self-titled one in 1997. It landed at Number 182 on the albums chart (Billboard 200). On the Top Heatseekers chart, it peaked at Number 11. Her hit single was a pop and dance radio Top 40 hit and was successful outside of the United States as well. Her second single, “A Little Bit of Ecstasy” had stronger sales but did not do well on radio. However, it is now again a buzzword since being included in the PlayStation 2 game, “DDRMAX 2.”
Jocelyn Enriquez had another major success when she joined Stars on 54, which consists of Jocelyn, house/pop/dance/R&B musician Ultra Naté and dance-pop/Eurodance performer, Amber. They recorded a cover version in disco style of “If You Could Read My Mind,” a 1971 hit song by Gordon Lightfoot. It was used in the soundtrack of “Studio 54,” a movie released in 1998. Jocelyn’s third album, “All My Life” was released in 2003, with one of the two singles released, “No Way No How” becoming a surprise hit. She also established JEM Entertainment, her own record label that same year.