Charice in KL

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By IAN YEE en­ter­tain­ment@thes­

teenage star charice is tak­ing on a new look and a stronger fo­cus in her own mu­sic iden­tity.

Not many peo­ple have to worry about their ca­reers be­ing over at 21. But then again, not ev­ery­body has a voice like Charice.

Since she got her big break as a 15-year-old on The Ellen De­generes Show four years ago, the pint-sized Filip­ina has been belt­ing out mega-bal­lads to stand­ing ova­tions around the world.

And the kind of songs that are her bread and but­ter on stage is the stuff that would have even the big­gest di­vas do­ing ex­tra warm-ups back­stage. We’re talk­ing about I Have Noth­ing, And I Am Telling You, Lis­ten, and the ol’ rep­u­ta­tion maker (or breaker), All By My­self – and she al­most al­ways does them at full throt­tle.

“It’s ac­tu­ally pretty bad,” said Charice, on the phone from Los An­ge­les.

“Belt­ing high notes all the time is not good for the voice. So for me, I just try to limit it, but still try to sing the same songs that peo­ple love watch­ing me sing. I’m 19 now and I don’t wanna turn 21 and lose my voice!”

But with so many shows to do, es­pe­cially be­ing part of the David Foster and Friends tour – which we’ll see her singing at the Pu­tra Sta­dium, Kuala Lumpur to­mor­row – the only thing she can do at the mo­ment to avoid any dam­age is to know her lim­its.

“Ev­ery artiste will feel that some­times their voice isn’t in con­di­tion, but there are tech­niques to get around that. It de­pends on the ar­range­ment of the song.

“Some­times I tell my mu­sic di­rec­tor that my voice is not in con­di­tion, so maybe we won’t do this song, or we’ll change it to this song so that I won’t dam­age my voice. there’s al­ways a plan B,” she said, quickly adding: “But it hasn’t hap­pened a lot of times.”

It’s hard to imag­ine Charice hav­ing to worry about los­ing her voice, be­cause on the phone, she talks with this tiny lit­tle chip­munk voice, and she adds this cute, girly chuckle af­ter ev­ery other sen­tence.

In many ways, Charice is still a kid, one who says her favourite pas­time when she’s not singing is play­ing video games. But be­cause of the tra­jec­tory of her ca­reer, she’s hav­ing to grow old and ma­ture a lit­tle faster, just like her voice.

Speak­ing about tour­ing with le­gendary pro­ducer David Foster, 61, whose con­cert se­ries in KL will also in­clude stars like Phillip Bai­ley, 60, Rus­sell Wat­son, 44, Ashanti, 30, and Michael Bolton, 58, she said: “I feel like I’m get­ting old too fast be­cause I’m the only teenager in the group! It makes me feel happy ac­tu­ally, cos that’s what I’ve al­ways wanted.

“It might sound weird, but I ac­tu­ally love hang­ing out with these peo­ple more than hang­ing out with peo­ple my age be­cause I’m not into clubs and every­thing.”

But there are some down­sides to grow­ing up so fast, like hav­ing to miss out on “reg­u­lar school”. Charice cur­rently does online school­ing alone at home, still work­ing to­wards her child­hood am­bi­tion of be­ing a lawyer.

“I miss my class­mates from back in the Philip­pines. I don’t even know where they are now, and I don’t know how to reach them. I see them some­times when I go back to do shows. Some of them ac­tu­ally watch the shows, and it makes me happy,” she said.

As an artiste, how­ever, Charice is wary of be­ing typecast as the young girl who sings the “old songs”. “It’s like the Body­guard med­ley, I Have

Noth­ing and I Will Al­ways Love You – peo­ple want to see me sing those songs, so I just made them into a med­ley. But I think a med­ley or edit ver­sion is enough, be­cause my genre is to­tally dif­fer­ent now. It’s more pop/ R&B now, and I have to go that way.

“And some­times I think peo­ple should un­der­stand that, cos peo­ple are like ‘ oh, why isn’t she singing bal­lads any­more’. I’m not say­ing I’m gonna aban­don the bal­lads. I still sing them ev­ery time I do con­certs, but we’re try­ing to cre­ate Charice, a pop/R&B singer,” she said, in one of the few times dur­ing the in­ter­view where she doesn’t laugh or chuckle.

Charice grew up in the prov­ince of La­gu­nain Philip­pines, and started singing when she was four, en­cour­aged by her sin­gle mother. She would per­form and take part in singing con­tests through­out her child­hood, do­ing every­thing from town fairs to re­al­ity tV com­pe­ti­tions. She got her big break when Ellen De­Generes was so amazed by a Youtube video of her singing that she flew her over to the United States to fea­ture on her show.

then oprah came into the pic­ture, also bring­ing her on her show, chris­ten­ing her the “Most tal­ented Girl in the World”, and in­tro­duc­ing her to peo­ple like An­drea Bo­celli, Ce­line Dion and Foster, who im­me­di­ately took her un­der his wing.

She cred­its both Ellen and oprah equally for hav­ing helped with her ca­reer, and says she “feels spe­cial” to have both of them con­tinue to take an in­ter­est in her life.

But fun­nily enough, hav­ing met so many of her mu­sic he­roes, she says the per­son that has left her the most starstruck so far, is Paris Hil­ton.

“It was kind of funny be­cause I was just sit­ting at a ta­ble and draw­ing or some­thing, and Michael Bublé was at the same ta­ble talk­ing to some­body else. then all of a sud­den this tall lady just taps me on the shoul­der and she’s like ‘Hi, I know you! You’re the girl on oprah, right?’

“I couldn’t say any­thing! And she was like ‘Can I take a pic­ture with you?’ and I was like ‘Are you kid­ding me? of course I’ll take a pic­ture with you!’ I couldn’t be­lieve it. She was re­ally nice,” she said.

Back to mu­sic, Charice’s sopho­more al­bum In­fin­ity fea­tures a track called Be­fore It

Ex­plodes, writ­ten by some­one with whom she shares a bit of a Filipino con­nec­tion – Bruno Mars, who is of Filipino-Puerto Ri­can de­scent.

So we just had to ask – what is it that makes Filipinos such good singers?

“It’s part of us! We love mu­sic, we love singing. Even peo­ple who aren’t as good as Bruno Mars – they still love singing!” she said, with that girly chuckle again.

“We love karaoke, we love singing other peo­ple’s songs, and I think it’s just part of our cul­ture, and that’s what I love about it.”

David Foster & Friends – Live in Asia Tour 2011 takes place 8pm at Pu­tra In­door Sta­dium in Bukit Jalil, KL, to­mor­row. En­rich Malaysia Air­lines, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with JAG Con­certs and Events, are the con­cert pre­sen­ters. Tick­ets are avail­able at www.jagtick­

Pint-sized princess: Filip­ina singer charice Pem­pengco is geared up for a groovy re­turn with her sec­ond al­bum in­fin­ity which is de­cid­edly a more ma­ture pop out­ing.

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