Charice soars higher

Published on .

Sings duet with Céline Dion at Madison Square Garden


Performing in Winnipeg on Sept. 28 in Willie Revillame show

WINNIPEG – Charice Pempengco is only 16 years old but there is no doubt that this young Filipina vocalist has achieved what many top performers in the Philippines can only dream of – to perform with the her favourite singing idol, Céline Dion. And if that were not enough, to do it in New York City before a full house in Madison Square Garden.

Pempengco will be in Winnipeg on Sunday, September 28th joining the superstar Willie Revillame in the live Wowowillie show at the MTS Centre.

One thing Charice won’t be bringing to the show is her last name. According to her biggest admirer, top record producer David Foster, Charice will now be known only by her first name, similar to other one-name pop stars like Cher, Madonna, Shakira, Prince and Sting.

Charice’s performance with Céline Dion on September 15 is only the latest in her growing list of astonishing accomplishments made even more impressive considering that just one year ago, she was not recognized as a high-calibre artist in her country of birth. In 2005, she joined a TV singing contest called Little Big Star where she placed second runner-up. While many viewers thought she should have won the American Idol-style contest, she received fewer text votes than the grand prize-winner, Sam Concepcion.

Last year a fan using the name FalseVoice posted Charice’s performances on YouTube where it was viewed by millions of people worldwide who admired her beautiful voice. The pint-sized singing sensation then received an invitation from Sweden to record several songs in June 2007 followed by an invitation to guest on a Korean TV talent show.

Her international popularity received a huge boost when Ellen Degeneres saw her YouTube clips in November and invited her to sing on her popular show on December 12. In April 2008, she appeared on the Paul O’Grady Show in England. This was followed by a guest appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated TV show on May 12, 2008 where she was among the ten featured “World’s Smartest Kids.” In all her appearances, Charice received standing ovations.

Obviously, it was not only Charice’s voice that made an impact on Oprah. “One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she’s faced in her life, she’s never given up on her dream of something better,” said Winfrey during her show. It was Oprah who introduced Charice to the legendary producer and star-maker David Foster after Charice’s first guest appearance on the Oprah show last May.

Since then, the invitations have continued to pour in. On May 17, Charice was invited to sing at the grand opening of MGM Grand in Connecticut where she shared the limelight with Josh Groban, Alicia Keys, John Meyer and David Foster. A few days later, on May 23, she was at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas preforming in a live concert tribute to David Foster where she again received standing ovations, prompting Foster, who accompanied her on the piano, to proclaim, “Tonight, a star is born!”

From Las Vegas, her next stop was in Italy on July 20th to sing with the famous tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Theatre of Silence of Lajatico where she mesmerized the Italian audience.

Her most recent appearance on Oprah, September 9th, was the clincher in the young Filipina singer’s ascent to international stardom. The first 45 minutes of the syndicated TV show, viewed by millions around the world, focused on Charice and even showed clips with her mom, briefly documenting her early struggle in life and showing the house where she grew up in Cabuyao, Laguna.

During the show, Oprah surprised Charice by linking her through video with her idol, Céline Dion who complimented the young Filipina by saying, “...I have heard you sing. I have seen a little bit of your life story and I am extremely ecstatic like the rest of the world who is watching right now. I can tell you that we have lots of things in common. And I also have a mother who is my strength. And David Foster, you cannot even think of finding somebody better than that to bring the best out of you. You have more talent than most people.”

Continuing her message for Charice, “Thank God your strength comes from your mother and your heart will go on and I’m pretty sure of that. And if I may, I would love to propose something. I would love to do something very special with you. Next week, I’m going to be singing at Madison Square Garden and I would love to ask you to come and sing a duet with me. And we can sing together. Maybe we can sing Because You Loved Me, and maybe we can dedicate this song to your mother. So I hope you can travel and come to New York to meet with me,” Dion told Charice.

Oprah was teary-eyed as she embraced the thrilled young Dion fan who cried tears of joy as she gleefully accepted her idol’s invitation.

On Sunday, September 28, thousands of Winnipeggers will get to see this petite Filipina singer in person as one of the guests of Willie Revillame on the Wowowillie show at the MTS Centre.