Friday, October 21, 2011

"Not Everybody Has a Voice Like Charice"

Screenshot from Charice's One Day music video (Japan Edition)

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.
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