Entertainment | Music

Living her dream

At 19, she's achieved what most singers only dream of - landing on the top 10 of the Billboard 200. Krita Coelho tracks how the talented Filipina singer Charice Pempengco journeyed to the very top.

  • By Krita Coelho
  • Published: 00:00 October 21, 2010
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Charice Pempengco
  • Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • Charice looks like any other teenager: petite, cute and full of life

Denzel Washington aptly said it, "Luck is when an opportunity comes along, and you're prepared for it". When an opportunity presented itself Filipina singing sensation Charice Pempengco made the most of it and the world noticed her talent. Hers is an inspiring story of unspeakable talent, painstaking perseverance to pursue her dreams and the ability to give 100 per cent when she got the break.

Today her greatest dream stands realised: she's a singing superstar, but the young girl doesn't want to let fame get into her head. "It's been very exciting. I take it one day at a time and don't think too much about it. I still like to be normal with my feet on the ground," she said in an interview.

At first sight, Charice looks like any other teenager: petite, cute and full of life. But when the 19-year-old sings, the deep, powerful and soaring (10 decibel) voice that comes from her tiny frame takes your breath away.

For someone that young, the Filipina singer has an impressive list of accomplishments under her belt. She's the first Asian to land a spot on the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 with her single Pyramid and many big names in the music world have dubbed her the "next big thing".

Legendary singer David Foster said, "her voice is the most beautiful he's heard in a long time." In fact, Foster was so taken by her talent that he produced her first album Çharice.

And how did she get her big break? YouTube! Though Charice bagged the third place at a televised talent show back in the Philippines, which won her some positive press coverage, a few commercials and so on, it was ultimately YouTube that catapulted her to instant super stardom. However, it was not Charice who was promoting herself. A fan named Dave, but known as Falsevoice online is said to have posted several videos of her belting out some hardcore tracks. "He's now my friend. I owe a lot to Dave. He's a great guy!" Charice told a celebrity website.

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After watching one of her performances on YouTube, Ellen DeGeneres invited her to her show and lo and behold! Charice took a flight to the US for the first time and performed two songs on the show. The rest as they say is history.

Life wasn't always a bed of roses for the starlet. She was raised by a single mother in the Philippines and often entered singing competitions to try to make money so that her family could get by.

That must have put a lot of pressure on her young shoulders; however, she has taken everything in her stride. "Back in the Philippines we had some tough times, however, I always had the amazing support of my mother," she was quoted as saying.

Her true moment of glory came when she appeared on the ‘Dreams Come True' episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her sublime rendition of her role model Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On, with David Foster on the piano, charmed the world. Charice was thrilled when Oprah got Celine Dion on the show via satellite and she won an invitation to sing a duet with Dion as part of the latter's ‘Taking Chances Tour' at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

Choked with emotion and amid tears, Charice performed Because You Loved Me with Celine Dion. Out of all her performances, appearances and promotional travels, she considers this the highlight of her career so far. "She is one of my heroes. The first song I learnt was My Heart Will Go On. We sang Because You Loved Me for my mum which was a huge deal for me," she said in an interview with a teen magazine.

Charice is now a force to reckon with. She's bagged a role on the hit television series Glee where she plays Sunshine Corazon, an exchange student. How did she manage to earn such a high profile role? Director Ryan Murphy came to know of Charice because she was on Oprah. He saw the clips of her singing and decided to meet her. "She came in - she's so tiny and cute. I thought we were just going to be introduced. I'd heard her album. She said, ‘Do you want me to sing for you?' I said, ‘OK'. She opened her laptop... she had a demo — she hit play and sang. She was in my office for half an hour...," Murphy told the Inquirer.

Murphy was so taken by Charice that he decided to write a good role for her. "That's one of those things where somebody walks in and you're just so touched that you say, ‘I have to write something for you.' So that's how it happened," enthused Murphy.

Charice was thrilled, naturally. "When the rumour came out, I was like this is the best rumour ever! I'm excited, but I'm also so nervous to be on it."

Now after having achieved so much in such a short time, Charice still has a dream: she wants to have a record with Beyoncé or Lady Gaga as they are both her inspirations.

And does she want to sing forever? Surprisingly no! She wants to fulfil her dream career as a lawyer.

More about charice

Her real name is Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco.
Artists she'd love to work with: Beyoncé Knowles, Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey.
Her celebrity crush: Josh Groban.
One thing people don't know about her: she is studying hard and devotes two hours a day to furthering her education.
Styles of music she loves performing: Pop, but she excels at ballads.
Her all-time favourite song: all tracks from the Bodyguard.

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