She is short. She is not pretty. She is not even classy in her looks and in her ways. Those understatements plainly describe the latest youtube star which, of late, has become a blooming international celebrity. And at this early, her name is already in Wikipedia, the internet’s encyclopedia cum almanac. And there’s also www.chariceonline.com saying it is the Official Charice Cyberfans Site. Definitely, it can be said that Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco has already made her mark in the music scene. And the way she did it was phenomenal, legendary and somewhat unprecedented.
It all started when Charice, then a bubbly 13-year old, joined the Little Big Star singing contest of ABS-CBN hosted by Sarah Geronimo, herself a singing contest winner. Sadly, Charice suffered an early elimination. But as fate would have it, she earned a re-entry ticket via the wildcard method, widely used now to give another chance to the early losers. With her second life in the contest, Charice worked her way up to be a worthy finalist. However, Charice landed only in third place. And with that, she had automatically earned a contract with Star Records.
But in spite of the recording contract, Charice was left with no option but to just sing inside their bathroom because there was no more exposure granted her. She couldn’t complain though because even Sam Concepcion, the eventual winner of the Little Big Star singing contest, was also nursing a faded star.
And so life was peace and quiet until someone had posted in youtube Charice’s rendition of Whitney Houston’s signature song I Will Always Love You. Since the pseudonym of the poster was False Voice, some youtube viewers had the impression that the video was only a lipsynch job by Charice. But when it was followed by the video of Charice’s faceoff with Bianca Ryan, a winner in America’s Got Talent, those supposedly ordinary videos caught the attention of Ten Songs Productions, a Swedish recording company that is on the lookout for fresh talents.
Charice showing her dance steps during her first mall tour at Ever Gotesco (Cainta) on April 18.
With her power-packed vocal cords, Charice flew to Stockholm, Sweden, to record 7 songs for Ten Songs Productions. Of course, it included I Will Always Love You and 4 original songs. But the most awaited international album seemed to be in wait until now.
False Voice added another 2 videos to the Charice collection in youtube – Dreamgirls and I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. This time the youtube channel that False Voice had created mesmerized the Koreans, resulting in an invitation from the Seoul Broadcasting System. By October of last year, Charice hied off to South Korea for a command performance in Star King, a talent show. Her duet with Kyuhyun, a Korean singing star, of A Whole New World was so explosive that the Koreans, on their own accord, posted the video in youtube.
And it is now a whole new world for Charice. “Ito po ang una kong mall tour,” she confessed on the stage. “Hindi ko po expected na ganito karami ang taong sasalubong sa akin. Saka hindi ko rin po expected na kakanta ako sa ganito…. dati kasi puro dreams lang,” her voice was ecstatic with genuine glee. The exhibition area of Ever Gotesco in Ortigas was filled to the rafters, so to speak, and applause was deafening.
Charice with the male dancers
With her natural gift of gab, Charice easily established rapport with the audience. “Kayo pong lahat ay friends ko na,” she smilingly said while pointing to the crowd. “Sa May ten po ay birthday celebration ko sa Wowowee at sa Hawaii po gagawin pero ipapalabas po sa Channel 23. Huwag nyo pong kalilimutang panoorin.” She sounded so excited such that she admitted her excitement to the crowd since it will be her very first big birthday celebration.
But popularity has a price to pay. There was an item in the tabloids referring to the statement purportedly said by Charice’s father. “Huwag na sanang gamitin ni Charice ang Pempengco kasi may iba na kong family. Para hindi kami maistorbo pare-pareho.” Charice is a catchy screen name, yes, but it would be difficult to remove the not so common family name.
The first mall tour was a rousing success in terms of attendance and audience impact. A planned autograph signing was aborted at the last moment when probably Charice’s handlers realized that her album was yet to come. “Invite ko rin po kayong bumili ng album ko,” Charice exhorted the crowd. It is a self-titled album which promises to be fulfilling, not just for the singer, but to the listener as well.
The so-called voice timbre is like a fingerprint that is almost unique to every person. You may sound like someone but acoustically speaking, your voice timbre is difficult to match. Charice has captured the imagination of the listeners with her effortless belting of high notes. Unlike other singers whose voice thins out when scaling high notes, the voice timbre of Charice remains on the normal level whether it be a low note or a high note.
Charice belting with might
Like a chain reaction, Charice Pempengco’s video of her Korean sojourn in youtube caught the fancy of E! which featured her in the Daily Ten. It was another round of success for Charice’s video for she was even named Queen of the Week. That American exposure paved the way for a guesting in The Ellen DeGeneres Show via a personal invitation by Ellen herself.
In December of last year, Charice was invited by Martin Nievera to his US concert where Charice wowed the crowd with her rendition of One Moment In Time, another Whitney Houston signature song. Charice also did a duet with Martin – The Prayer.
A week before Christmas of 2007, Charice took the first step of the long road to international stardom. For The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Charice belted I Will Always Love You and the now famous And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. Not only the audience were treated to an audio display but even Ellen herself was so thrilled with Charice’s performance.
And right on Christmas Day, Charice flew to South Korea again. This time it was for the taping of her duet with Lena Park, another popular Korean singer, of I Will Always Love You. Charice also sang I Will Survive. The high-rating Korean tv show was aired on December 29 in South Korea.
Early in April, Charice took another step in the international scene when she guested in the Paul O’Grady Show in London. Not just once but twice, Charice was accorded standing ovations for her powerful rendition of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going and I Will Always Love You. Also in the same month, Chariced had landed in the most coveted guesting opportunity for American tv – the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her stint at Oprah will be shown late this month or ealy May – TheTalented Kids of the world.
Although Charice is more popular abroad than in her homeland, she is also starting to make big waves with the help of her ABS-CBN contract. Aside from the first and the succeeding scheduled mall tours, her first self-titled recording album will surely be launched with a big bang. And not to mention her grand birthday celebration in Hawaii, ABS-CBN must be cooking a lot of dishes for Charice’s singing career.
It was a whole new world for the little big voice of that little girl with a big heart. Now, the world… tomorrow, the country for Charice.
* photos by Alex J. Socorro
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