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Regine Velasquez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Regine Velasquez
Close-up image of Regine Velasquez singing.
Velasquez performing live at the Mall of Asia Arena in January 2013
Born
Regina Encarnacion Ansong Velasquez[1][2]

(1970-04-22) April 22, 1970 (age 48)[3]
ResidenceQuezon City, Philippines
Occupation
  • Singer
  • actress
  • record producer
Years active1986–present
Spouse(s)
Ogie Alcasid (m. 2010)
Children1
Musical career
Genres
InstrumentsVocals
Labels

Regina Encarnacion Ansong Velasquez (/rɪˈɪnvəˈlæskɛz/; born April 22, 1970) is a Filipino singer, actress and record producer. She gained recognition by winning both the 1984 Ang Bagong Kampeon and the 1989 Asia-Pacific Song Contest, representing the Philippines in the latter. Velasquez rose to fame with the release of "Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang" from her self-titled debut album in 1987. The album was generally well received and produced two more singles, "Urong Sulong" and "Isang Lahi", that established her as a commercially viable Filipino pop artist.

Velasquez signed a recording contract with Polygram Records in 1994 and released Listen Without Prejudice, marking her debut as an up-and-coming artist in the Southeast and East Asian region. It became her best-selling record in the region to date and produced "In Love With You", which became her most successful single of the 1990s. Its accompanying music video was named Video of the Decade by MTV Asia. Velasquez parted with Polygram in 1997, citing a lack of creative control over her music and public image, and signed a record deal with VIVA Records the following year. She was given full conceptual and creative control as the executive producer of R2K (1999). The album became the best-selling album by a female artist in the Philippines, and the best-selling album by a local artist in 1999 and 2000.

Velasquez ventured into film with a lead role in Wanted Perfect Mother (1996). She continued to play female lead roles in romantic comedy films — including Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw (2000) and Pangako Ikaw Lang (2001), with the latter being the highest-grossing Filipino film in 2001. She has also been successful in television with the shows Maalaala Mo Kaya (2002), Forever In My Heart (2004), Diva (2010) and Poor Señorita (2016). In the first of these, she appeared as a mentally challenged woman in a featured episode, which earned her a Star Award for Best Actress, while the other three were lead roles in prime time television shows.

During her career, Velasquez has sold more than 8.5 million records regionally. According to the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) she is the best-selling artist of all time in the Philippines, with seven million certified albums sold domestically and a further 1.5 million in Southeast and East Asia. Covers, Vol. 1 (2004) became her eighth album with sales exceeding 200,000 copies, more than any other solo artist in the Philippines. Velasquez has won two Asian Television Awards, two MTV Asia Awards, 21 Awit Awards, 20 Box Office Entertainment Awards, 13 Aliw Awards and nine Star Awards for Music, and has been consistently credited with inspiring a generation of Filipino singers.[4] Referred to as "Asia's songbird", she is regarded for her vocal range, agility and use of the belting technique.[5]

Early life

"We were very poor but we were happy. It’s only when you start growing up that you realize the hardships that your parents have to go through for you. My parents made sure that we ate on time and that was enough for me. [My father] had scoliosis and he was working at a construction site; he wasn’t earning enough. My mom was good with money. She was able to stretch whatever little money we had."

—Velasquez, on her childhood[6]

Regine Velasquez was born in Tondo, Manila, on April 22, 1970.[3] Her father, Gerardo Velasquez, was a construction estimator, and her mother, Teresita (née Ansong), was a homemaker.[7] The singer has three younger sisters, Cacai, Diane and Deca, and a younger brother, Jojo.[8] The family moved to Hinundayan, Southern Leyte where Velasquez spent the early years of her life.[9][10] She attended pre-school and elementary school at the Central School of Hinundayan.[9] At age four, Velasquez became interested in music and enjoyed listening to songs her father sang to lull her to sleep.[11] She recalled that she would listen to her mother play the guitar and piano while her father sang,[11] and referenced "Mr. DJ" by Sharon Cuneta as one of the first songs she learned to sing.[12]

By the age of six, Velasquez began intensive vocal training with her father who submerged her neck-deep in sea water and had her sing vocal runs.[13][11] She credits her father's method in developing her lung endurance by using breathing techniques that increased her lungs' capacity, requiring fewer breaths between verses and resulting in better control.[11][14] In 1976, Velasquez placed third in her first singing competition on Betty Mendez Livioco's The Tita Betty's Children Show.[15] When she was nine, her family moved to Balagtas, Bulacan where she continued her education at St. Lawrence Academy.[3] Velasquez remained involved in extra-curricular activities, particularly music,[3] and continued to compete in inter-school and inter-district cultural engagements including the annual Bulacan Private Schools Association vocal and literary competitions.[3]

When Velasquez was fourteen, her father encouraged her to audition for the 1984 season of the reality television series Ang Bagong Kampeon.[14][15] She eventually qualified to become the show's senior division daily winner and successfully defended her title for eight consecutive weeks earning a spot in the finale.[3] She won and signed a record deal.[3]

Music career

1986–1989: Career beginnings and Regine

After winning Ang Bagong Kampeon, Velasquez was signed to OctoArts International (now PolyEast Records).[3] She was introduced as 'Chona' Velasquez—her nickname—and recorded the single "Love Me Again", which was released in early 1986.[3] However, the single was commercially unsuccessful.[16] On February 16, 1986, at the behest of another OctoArts recording artist, Pops Fernandez, Velasquez was invited to appear on her live late night musical television show, The Penthouse Live![16] While she was rehearsing for the live show, the producer and talent manager Ronnie Henares showed interest and signed her.[16][17] At the suggestion of Fernandez's husband and the show's co-host, Martin Nievera, Velasquez adopted the stage name "Regine".[3]

During this period, Velasquez was introduced to Vicente del Rosario, the head of VIVA Records, who signed her and started production of her debut album.[18] Del Rosario enlisted songwriters that included Joaquin Francisco Sanchez, Vehnee Saturno and Christine Bendebel.[19] He and Henares, who both served as executive producers,[19] planned to market Velasquez as one of their main female pop artists, hoping to attain commercial success as they had done with Nora Aunor and Sharon Cuneta.[20] After Velasquez completed her debut album, Regine, VIVA released the lead single "Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang" in 1987.[3] She made promotional appearances on the ABS-CBN television variety shows Triple Treat and Teen Pan Alley.[21][22] The album produced two more singles—"Urong Sulong" and "Isang Lahi".[3]

Two years after the release of her debut album, Velasquez represented the Philippines in the 1989 Asia Pacific Singing Contest in Hong Kong.[3] She went on to win the contest, performing the songs "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel and "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the musical Dreamgirls.[3]

1990–1993: Nineteen 90 and Reason Enough

In 1990, Velasquez signed a contract with Vicor Music and released her second studio album, Nineteen 90.[24] Velasquez worked with Louie Ocampo who provided the musical arrangement for the album's lead single "Narito Ako",[24] a song originally recorded and performed by Maricris Belmont and written by Nonong Pedero for the 1978 Metro Manila Popular Music Festival.[25] In July 1990, Velasquez headlined her first major concert as a solo artist in support of the album at the Folk Arts Theater.[26][27] She recorded a duet with Jose Mari Chan, "Please Be Careful With My Heart", for his sixth studio album Constant Change,[28] and contributed backing vocals for Gary Valenciano's "Each Passing Night", a single from his sixth album, Faces of Love.[29] At the end of 1990, Velasquez made her North American concert debut at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall in New York City—a first for an Asian solo artist.[30] Soon after, British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh invited Velasquez to audition for the West End production of the musical Miss Saigon.[31] Velasquez received a letter from the production company offering intensive musical theater training in the United Kingdom; she declined the offer citing inadequate theatrical experience.[31]

Velasquez's third studio album Tagala Talaga was released in October 1991,[32] and included cover versions of classic OPM recordings by National Artist for Music recipients Ryan Cayabyab, Lucio San Pedro and Levi Celerio.[33] The album's lead single "Buhay Ng Buhay Ko", originally recorded by Leah Navarro, was also written by Pedero, who Velasquez previously worked with on Nineteen 90.[33][34] Three singles were released the following year—"Anak, "Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan" and "Kastilyong Buhangin".[33]

By early 1993, music executives Alex Chan and Norman Cheng from PolyGram Far East approached Velasquez and began negotiations for a record deal, mapping her commercial debut in the region.[16][35] Following the deal, PolyGram Far East announced its joint venture licensing agreement in the Philippines with the formation of its subsidiary, PolyCosmic Records.[35] Reason Enough was the newly-formed label's maiden release in July 1993.[36] David Gonzales of AllMusic described the album as a "mixture of passionate, easy listening love songs, which are popular in the Philippines, and songs with a modern, contemporary touch, more attuned to an international audience".[36] Velasquez recorded a duet with Paul Anka for the album's first single "It's Hard to Say Goodbye".[35] Its second single, "Sana Maulit Muli", won the Awit Award for Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist in 1994.[37]

1994–1998: Breakthrough with Listen Without Prejudice and My Love Emotion

In July 1994, Velasquez released her fifth studio album and first regional record Listen Without Prejudice.[38] She worked with new music producers and songwriters, including Glenn Medeiros, John Laudon and Alex Yang.[39] The album debuted in several countries in Southeast Asia including: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.[40] AllMusic's David Gonzales called the album "adventurous, [with] contemporary touches throughout".[40] The album's lead single, "In Love With You", featured singer-songwriter Jacky Cheung.[41] Gonzales heralded the song for its popularity, but felt "Cheung's presence on the duet had much to do with the overseas success of the album."[40] MTV Asia listed its accompanying music video in its 1990s to 2000s music video rankings as "video of the decade".[42] In December 1994, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reported that Listen Without Prejudice had sold more than 600,000 copies regionally and a further 100,000 in the Philippines, making it the best-selling album of her career.[5][43]

Velasquez began work on her sixth studio album, My Love Emotion, in early 1995.[44] She enlisted Japanese songwriters and producers such as Mariya Takeuchi, Kazufumi Miyazawa and Tatsushi Umeyaki during its recording.[45] AllMusic's David Gonzales praised it as "an even better album",[46] but criticized the record for being very similar to the formula used on Listen Without Prejudice.[46] The record's lead single, "My Love Emotion", was a collaboration with Southern Sons' lead guitarist and vocalist, Phil Buckle,[45] which Gonzales, called "a triumph" describing it as "an outstanding vehicle, containing a strong melody and hook in the chorus."[46] The album's follow-up single, "You've Made Me Stronger", maintained the record's adult contemporary theme and reunited Velasquez with songwriter and record producer, Trina Belamide, who had a brief role in the production of her first album with PolyCosmic Records.[47] The album made a combined regional and domestic sales of more than 250,000 copies.[41]

A close up photo of Regine Velasquez with a banner behind her bearing her name and some Korean text
Velasquez at the press launch for Retro in November 1996 in South Korea

On October 18, 1996, Velasquez's seventh album, Retro, was released.[48] It featured cover versions of international hit singles in the 1970s and 1980s from artists including Donna Summer, Melissa Manchester and Olivia Newton-John.[48] Its lead single "Fly"—the only original song on the record—credited songwriters Maurice White, Al McKay and Allee Willis, members of the American disco-soul group Earth, Wind & Fire, because the song interpolates the melody of their 1978 single "September".[49][50] David Gonzales expressed approval of the album's content as having a "considerable amount of adventurous, [and] modern music" and described it as a "welcome development in a country where the local music scene is dominated by easy listening love songs."[49] However, he cited one of the drawbacks of Velasquez's choice to do a cover album, saying that "[O]ftentimes Filipinos prefer international music, and remakes thereof, than music composed by their countrymen."[49] In December 1996, Velasquez released Love Was Born On Christmas Day—her final record with PolyCosmic.[18][51]

In 1997, Velasquez parted from PolyCosmic and signed a five-album recording contract with VIVA Records.[44][18] Drawn was released on November 22, 1998,[52] it combined the pop sensibilities of Listen Without Prejudice and My Love Emotion with downbeat R&B and soul influences.[53] For Drawn, she worked with songwriter and producer Mark Feist, under his label The MJF Company in Los Angeles, California.[54] Feist served as the executive producer of the record, with songwriting and musical arrangement credits for a majority of the tracks including the lead single, "How Could You Leave".[52] AllMusic commended the album as her "most modern, [and] contemporary" and found the single to be "sensuous."[53] The album's follow-up single, a cover of Samantha Sang's 1977 song "Emotion", was described as a "fine acoustic remake."[53] Drawn sold more than 120,000 copies and was given a triple-platinum certification by Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI).[55]

1999–2003: New image and independence, R2K, and Reigne

Velasquez performing in a long yellow gown while hanging on a harness
Velasquez performing "Butterfly" during her R2K Concert in April 2000

With her next albums, Velasquez took more initiative and control of her music, and had creative involvement over her projects.[56] For her tenth studio album R2K, she became executive producer and reunited with longtime collaborators Tats Faustino and Cesar Aguas.[57] Released on November 27, 1999, R2K was Velasquez's third cover album of international material from contemporary hits of the last forty years, from artists including Dionne Warwick, Michael Jackson, and The Beatles.[56] The album's lead single was a cover of Jeffrey Osborne's "On The Wings of Love".[58] AllMusic's David Gonzales said the record kept up "with the country's infatuation with Western popular music." He called Velasquez's singing "self-assured", but criticized it for having "no magic in the air, nothing that makes one stand up and take notice."[58] Commercially, R2K sold more than 40,000 copies in the first two weeks of release, receiving a platinum certification and becoming the best-selling local album in the Philippines in 1999.[10] At the end of 2000, PARI reported that R2K sold more than 350,000 copies and was the best-selling album by a solo female artist in the Philippines.[59][10] To date, R2K has sold more than 480,000 copies domestically.[44] On December 31, 1999, Velasquez partook in 2000 Today, an internationally broadcast BBC television special commemorating the beginning of the new millennium, where she was a featured artist in a musical performance, and sang "Written In The Sand" at the Peninsula Manila on Ayala Avenue, Makati City.[10] The television special drew a worldwide audience of more than 800 million viewers with its core international broadcast lasting for 28 hours, beginning with Kiribati, Line Islands and culminating in American Samoa.[60][61]

In support of the album, Velasquez headlined R2K The Concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in April 2000.[62] Ricardo Lo from The Philippine Star was generally enthusiastic of the production and complimented the quality of Velasquez's live vocals, saying that "unlike other concert artists who require guests to act as concert fillers to compensate for the main star's deficiencies, [Velasquez] is blessed with enough talent to depend on".[63] In the same year, Velasquez won Best Female Major Concert Act at the 13th Aliw Awards for the show.[64] In December 2000, Velasquez's first live album, Regine Live: Songbird Sings the Classics, was released.[65] She recorded a fifteen-piece setlist at the Westin Philippine Plaza, under the musical direction of Gerard Salonga.[66] During the show, Velasquez and Salonga sang a cover of Carol Connors and David Shire's 1979 duet "With You I'm Born Again". It was later released as the album's lead single.[65] David Gonzales criticized the technical mixing and described how the record "lacks the excitement that a live album should generate."[67] Despite the negative critical response,[67] the album sold more than 200,000 copies.[44][68]

By 2001, Velasquez began developing new material for her eleventh studio album, Reigne, and worked with Filipino songwriters, including Teresita Agbayani, Janno Gibbs and Moy Ortiz.[69] Reigne and its lead single "To Reach You" was released on November 28, 2001.[70][71] AllMusic's David Gonzales heralded the album as "an adventurous set" and praised the song writing's "high quality".[72] Two more singles were released the following year—"Dadalhin" and "Sa Aking Pag-iisa".[73][74]

In 2002, Reigne earned Velasquez a MTV Asia Award nomination.[75] She won the inaugural award for Favorite Artist Philippines and performed "Cry" alongside Mandy Moore to promote the theatrical release of the latter's film, A Walk to Remember (2002).[76][77] In that same year, Velasquez hosted the first season of Star for a Night, a format based on the British talent show of the same name.[78] The series' concept involves discovering unsigned singing stars, with the winner determined by a panel of judges.[78] On April 26, 2002, Velasquez headlined One Night with Regine at the National Museum of the Philippines.[79] The show was a fundraiser in partnership with the Bantay Bata Foundation, a social welfare organization of media conglomerate ABS-CBN.[80] The Philippine Star complimented the "outdoor setting," and mentioned that Velasquez's show "invariably becomes a big musical event."[79] Later that year, One Night with Regine won Best Musical Program at the 7th Asian Television Awards.[81]

In May 2003, Velasquez embarked on a tour with Martin Nievera—Martin and Regine: The World Concert Tour.[82] The tour had stops in key cities in the United States and Canada, four shows in Manila and one in Cebu.[83] In the same year, Velasquez returned as host for the second season of Search for a Star (formerly Star for a Night).[84]

2004–2007: Covers Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

A woman in a red dress sings into a hand-held microphone while sitting on a chair beside a piano during a concert
Velasquez performing "Sana Maulit Muli" during her Twenty concert in October 2006

In October 2004, Velasquez released her twelfth studio album, Covers, Vol. 1—her fourth record containing only covers.[85] The album features tracks originally recorded by local male artists and musical groups, such as Ariel Rivera, Side A and South Border.[86] Covers, Vol. 1 was her most expensive album to produce to date, due in part to the cost of securing licensing rights for songs by local songwriters.[85] "Forevermore", the record's lead single, debuted in August 2004, one month before the album's release.[87] Covers, Vol. 1 sold more than 200,000 copies domestically and became her eighth album to have exceeded that sales mark, more than any other solo artist in the Philippines.[68][88]

In 2005, Velasquez continued her television work as presenter on another talent show, Pinoy Pop Superstar.[89] In November 2005, Velasquez headlined Reflections, a concert series at the Aliw Theater, that included eight shows concluding on December 10, 2005.[6] Towards the end of 2005, Velasquez, Del Rosario and Raul Mitra began developing material for her follow-up to Covers, Vol. 1.[90]

Released on January 30, 2006, Covers, Vol. 2 became her fifth cover album and thirteenth overall.[91] The album, partly influenced with 1980s and 1990s sound, incorporated genres such as jazz and blues.[91] The record featured tracks from artists including Alanis Morissette, Blondie, Paula Abdul and Prince.[91] The Manila Bulletin complimented Velasquez's "versatility" and the album tracks' "jazzy and blues-y interpretation".[90] In October 2006, Velasquez headlined a show, named Twenty, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.[92] For the show, she won Best Female Major Concert Act and Entertainer of the Year at the 20th Aliw Awards.[93]

On August 11, 2007, Velasquez appeared as the co-host with Ogie Alcasid on the television program Celebrity Duets.[94] The show is an interactive reality television music competition based on the original US show, and an addition to the Celebrity Duets franchise produced by FremantleMedia and SYCOtv.[95]

2008–2012: Low Key and professional hiatus

Velasquez holding a trophy for an award she has won
Velasquez attending the 6th Myx Music Awards in March 2011

Velasquez developed other television projects during early 2008. She appeared in Songbird, a weekly late night musical television program that aired on GMA Network Inc, where she was the main act and which featured performances by a musical guest.[96] She also appeared on a musical television special, The Best of Me, filmed at her residence in Ayala Hills Estate, Quezon City.[97][98] Velasquez signed a recording contract with Universal Records,[99] and released her fourteenth studio album Low Key in November 2008.[100] The album, as with Covers, Vol. 2, contains cover versions of international songs which Velasquez described as "more relaxed, laid-back and restrained".[99] It included tracks from artists such as Christopher Cross, Dan Fogelberg and Rita Coolidge.[100] Rito Asilo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer praised the album's maturity and wrote that "[Velasquez] no longer shrieks and shouts as much as she used to."[101] Commercially, the album sold more than 12,500 copies in its first week, and received a platinum certification a month after its release.[102]

She made two television appearances in 2009. The biographical documentary and musical, Roots to Riches chronicled her life, described her personal and professional struggles, and included musical performances filmed in her hometown of Malolos, Bulacan.[103] She returned briefly to hosting with Are You the Next Big Star?, a reality talent show.[104] In August 2009, Velasquez embarked on a concert tour, Most Requested, which began at the Sky Dome in SM City North EDSA and visited selected cities in the Philippines, including Bacolod, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and Iloilo.[105]

Fantasy, Velasquez's fifteenth studio album, was released on November 21, 2010 as a double CD set.[106] The first was a disc of OPM recordings; the second included covers of international singles such as Madonna's, "Papa Don't Preach", Toronto's "What About Love" and the Eagles' "Love Will Keep Us Alive".[107] The Philippine Daily Inquirer called the album "vocally sumptuous" and was generally impressed with Velasquez's vocals and range.[108] Fantasy and its singles were nominated in a total of five categories at the 24th Awit Awards[109] and 3rd Star Awards for Music.[110] The album has sold more than 30,000 copies domestically and received a platinum certification.[106] After receiving the Magna Award at the Myx Music Awards 2011,[111] Velasquez took a hiatus from public engagements following confirmation of her pregnancy.[112]

On October 6, 2012, Velasquez returned to television with Sarap Diva, a weekly lifestyle talk show.[113] In November 2012, she performed at the Mall of Asia Arena, her first appearance since her pregnancy.[114] The show, Silver, was cut short after Velasquez suffered from acute laryngitis due to a viral infection.[115]

2013–2016: Silver Rewind and Hulog Ka Ng Langit

Following Silver's cancellation, it was announced that Velasquez would headline the re-staging of the concert on January 5, 2013.[116] Titled Silver Rewind, Velasquez recommenced the one-night show in the Mall of Asia Arena.[117] The concert received generally favorable reviews; Manila Bulletin's Jojo Panaligan called it a "redemption of reputation",[118] while Dolly Anne Carvajal of the Philippine Daily Inquirer mentioned that Velasquez did not fail to make up for the initial cancellation of the show.[119] The following month, she co-headlined in Foursome alongside Alcasid, Fernandez, and Nievera.[120] For both of these shows, Velasquez received four nominations at the 5th Star Awards for Music,[121] winning Best Female Major Concert Act for Silver, and Concert of the Year for Foursome.[122] In October 2013, she embarked on a short string of concerts for Silver spanning three dates across the US, performing at the OC Fair & Event Center and Solano County Fairground in California, and at the Mohegan Sun resort in Montville, Connecticut.[123][124] On November 28, 2013, her sixteenth studio album, Hulog Ka Ng Langit, was released.[125] It contained tracks written by Filipino songwriters, and covers of international recordings such as "Rainbow Connection" from the 1979 film The Muppet Movie; "Tomorrow" from the 1977 Broadway musical Annie; and a re-arrangement of Bruno Mars' single "Just the Way You Are".[126] Two weeks following its release, Hulog Ka Ng Langit sold more than 15,000 units domestically.[127] The album earned six nominations each at the 27th Awit Awards[128] and 6th Star Awards for Music.[129]

A long angle shot of a concert stage with Velasquez singing in the middles
Velasquez performing "What Kind of Fool Am I?" during her R3.0 Concert in October 2017

In 2014, Velasquez won Best Inspirational Record for the single "Nathaniel (Gift of God)" and Best Christmas Recording for "Hele ni Inay" at the 27th Awit Awards,[130] while Hulog Ka Ng Langit won Album Cover of the Year at the 6th Star Awards for Music.[129] On February 14, 2014, Velasquez reunited with Nievera for a one-night show, Voices of Love, at the Mall of Asia Arena.[131][132] In the same year, Velasquez worked on other music projects. She was a featured artist on Gloc-9's single "Takip Salim"[133] and in Vice Ganda's "Push Mo Yan Teh".[134]

In February 2015, Velasquez appeared alongside Nievera, Valenciano and Lani Misalucha for a concert, titled Ultimate, at the Mall of Asia Arena.[135] She later won Best Female Concert Performer at the 47th Box Office Entertainment Awards,[136] 7th Star Awards for Music[137] and 5th Edukcircle Awards for the production.[138] In the same year, Velasquez appeared as a main judge on the sixth season of the reality television series and interactive competition, StarStruck.[139] The series featured a pool of aspiring actors competing for an artist management contract.[139] In November 2015, Velasquez headlined a four-date concert series that featured a repertoire of songs from musicals, called Regine at the Theater.[140]

For the third straight year, Velasquez appeared in a co-headlining concert at the Mall of Asia Arena in February 2016.[141] The two-night show, Royals, reunited her with Nievera and featured Angeline Quinto and Erik Santos.[142] Due to the concert's positive critical reception,[143] Velasquez won two awards for Best Female Concert Performer at the 48th Box Office Entertainment Awards,[144] and the 6th Edukcircle Awards.[145] By mid-2016, Velasquez embarked on a US concert series—Timeless. The tour had stops in Chicago, New Jersey, Pasadena and San Diego.[146][147] In December 2016, People Asia magazine included Velasquez on their annual People of the Year list.[148]

2017–present: R3.0, The Clash and Idol Philippines

Velasquez next appeared as main host of the late night musical variety television show, Full House Tonight.[149] The weekly program premiered on February 18, 2017, and ran for fourteen episodes.[150] On June 30, 2017, Velasquez announced her return to VIVA Records and that she had begun production of her seventeenth studio album, R3.0.[151] In August 2017, a cover of Up Dharma Down's 2012 song "Tadhana" was released as a promotional single[152] and an original track, "Hugot", was released as the album's lead single the following month.[153] R3.0 was released on October 21, 2017. In support of the album, Velasquez headlined the R3.0 Concert at the Mall of Asia Arena.[154] In November 2017, she played a four-date US concert series with Alcasid, titled Mr. and Mrs. A, that included shows at the Los Angeles Theatre, in California and The Townhall in New York City.[155][156] In July 2018, she served as host on the GMA Network television reality show The Clash.[157] On October 17, 2018, Velasquez was signed to serve as a judge on ABS-CBN's revival of the Idol franchise series, Idol Philippines after returning to the network.[21]

Acting career

Velasquez photographed with a guy on her right while being interviewed
Velasquez, pictured with VIVA Entertainment head Vic del Rosario, who gave the singer her breakthrough in Wanted Perfect Mother (1996)

Velasquez entered mainstream films in January 1988, beginning with a brief appearance in The Untouchable Family, an action comedy film.[158] Its soundtrack contained her single "Urong Sulong".[159] She continued to appear in a series of supporting roles in comedies that included Pik Pak Boom (1988) and Elvis and James 2 (1990).[159][160]

In 1995, Velasquez began working with stage and musical director Ryan Cayabyab on a workshop for the theater production of José Rizal's Noli Me Tángere.[161] She made her musical theater debut playing the female lead, María Clara, after the production premiered at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on July 14, 1995, filling in for West End theater actress Monique Wilson.[162] Del Rosario, who also headed VIVA Entertainment's film production arm, saw Velasquez in one of her performances and offered her a starring role in a film.[161] In May 1996, she made her cinematic debut in a leading role, playing a music teacher in Ike Jarlego's romantic comedy film, Wanted Perfect Mother.[151] To coincide with the film's theatrical run "You Are My Song" was released as the soundtrack's lead single.[163] The musical comedy Do Re Mi—in which she played alongside Donna Cruz and Mikee Cojuangco—was released in the same year.[164] Velasquez continued to play lead roles in 1998, appearing in the comedy fantasy film Honey Nasa Langit Na Ba Ako as Janno Gibbs' fiancé,[160] and the romantic comedy Dahil May Isang Ikaw with Aga Muhlach.[42] Her first television lead role came in 2000 in an episode of the IBC-13's weekly drama series Habang May Buhay, playing Piolo Pascual's cancer-stricken love interest.[160]

A key point in Velasquez's film career came when Joyce Bernal cast her as the lead in her romantic comedy Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw (2000) opposite Robin Padilla.[64] Cinemaya and Film International correspondent and film critic Noel Vera described the film's formula as "nothing really new, ... it's the nth variation of Roman Holiday", although he complimented the singer for bringing her own public persona, charisma and sense of humor to the role.[165][166] Her next film role was in the romantic comedy Pangako Ikaw Lang (2001).[10][167] The film reunited her with Bernal and Muhlach.[167] Vera was impressed with the film's direction and writing, and described her performance as "sunny good nature", played with a "light comic touch".[168] Pangako Ikaw Lang became the highest-grossing Filipino film of 2001.[10][169] Due to the film's commercial performance, Velasquez was the recipient of the Box Office Queen title at the 32nd Box Office Entertainment Awards.[169] Her next television appearance was in an episode of ABS-CBN's weekly drama series, Maalaala Mo Kaya (2001), playing a mentally challenged woman who develops a romantic relationship with a younger man.[170][171] The role won her the Best Actress award at the 16th Star Awards for Television.[172] In 2002, she starred in Ikaw Lamang Hanggang Ngayon with Richard Gomez.[173] Filmed entirely in Manila City,[174] her performance of a mundane and undesirable Manila Post Office mail sorter earned a Young Critics Circle nomination for Best Actress.[175] Pangarap Ko Ang Ibigin Ka (2003) reunited her with Christopher de Leon of Wanted Perfect Mother.[176] The film premiered at the Manila Film Festival in July 2003.[176] Mars Ravelo's Captain Barbell was her second film released in 2003.[177]

Velasquez did not make any film appearances in 2004, but made her prime time television debut in the drama series Forever In My Heart.[178] In the series, she reunited with Gomez and worked alongside Ariel Rivera and Dawn Zulueta.[178] She was not seen in film or television until late 2006 in a reunion project with Padilla, Till I Met You.[179] Rito Asilo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer criticized the film but found Velasquez to be "less awkward" and showing "dramatic insight and depth" in it.[180] She played an unemployed single mother in Paano Kita Iibigin (2007), a romantic comedy co-starring Pascual.[181] Jeffrey Valisno of BusinessWorld Cinema was unenthusiastic about the film and criticized Velasquez's portrayal.[182] Despite the negative review, the performance earned Velasquez FAMAS[183] and FAP[184] awards nomination for Best Actress. In 2008, she returned to prime time television playing the title role in the comedy series Ako Si Kim Sam Soon, an adaption of the South Korean television show.[185] Velasquez also voiced the eponymous character in the animated film Urduja (2008).[186] She had three cameo appearances in 2009, including Kimmy Dora, OMG (Oh, My Girl!) and Yaya and Angelina: The Spoiled Brat Movie.[187][188]

In 2010, Velasquez appeared in the prime time television musical series, Diva,[189] playing a facially disfigured, aspiring singer who undergoes surgical enhancement to pursue a career in music.[189] Her next appearance was a starring role in the television comedy I Heart You, Pare! (2011), co-starring Dingdong Dantes.[190] She dropped out after the 45th episode (following her pregnancy) and was replaced by Iza Calzado.[191]

Five years after her last film appearance, Velasquez worked with Bernal and Muhlach for the third time in the romantic comedy Of All The Things (2012).[192] Philbert Dy of ClickTheCity called the movie a "tedious, unfocused mess that forces chemistry where none really exists".[193] Despite the film's critical and commercial failure, Velasquez's performance won the 10th Golden Screen award for Best Actress.[194] She next starred in the independent film Mrs. Recto (2015), a comedy-drama set principally on Recto Avenue.[195] She then portrayed a socialite misdiagnosed with a terminal illness in the television comedy series Poor Señorita (2016).[196] Her only acting appearance in 2017 was a supporting role in the sequel to the 2004 television series Mulawin, tilted Mulawin vs. Ravena.[197]

Artistry

Influences

Barbra Streisand (left) and Mariah Carey (right) both significantly influenced Velasquez.

One of Velasquez's earliest musical memories was listening to her father, Gerardo Velasquez, sing lullabies to put her to sleep.[3] As a child she enjoyed hearing classic songs. She would wait for her father's return from work and ask him to sing her the "old songs" he knew until she fell asleep.[11] She was drawn to traditional songs instead of nursery rhymes because of this routine. Frank Sinatra's 1943 cover of "You'll Never Know" was a nightly staple.[154] Velasquez has said that from childhood she has considered Sharon Cuneta a role model and credits the singer as a key inspiration to pursue a musical career.[198]

Her music is strongly influenced by American music and she credits Sheena Easton, Angela Bofill, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey as being very important in her early years.[199][6] She admires Houston for her "style and R&B influence," and was impressed with Carey's songwriting.[199] On several occasions, Velasquez has credited singer, songwriter and actress Barbra Streisand as her main influence and musical inspiration, explaining, "I look up to her not just because of her enormous talent, but because of her fearlessness and dedication to excellence, her willingness to take risks and to be different."[200] Streisand's music has been heavily featured in Velasquez's repertoire throughout her career, including a series of concerts paying homage to the singer,[201] which she described as "a pleasure" to perform.[200] Velasquez has also been influenced by many OPM artists.[199] Early in her career, she has expressed appreciation for singers such as Kuh Ledesma, Joey Albert, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez, and cites them as role models.[6] She has also spoken fondly of Filipino songwriters like George Canseco, Rey Valera, Basil Valdez, Ryan Cayabyab and Willy Cruz.[202]

Musical style

Velasquez's music contained elements of traditional OPM love songs early in her career.[203] She described how she developed her musical style, saying, "I was only 16 and people didn't know what to do with me. When they want me to sing love songs, they had to explain to me what it meant because I didn't know the feeling yet."[204] Her debut album, Regine, incorporated ballads and bubblegum pop love songs.[203] Lyrically the album addressed the excitement, uncertainty and regrets experienced with young, playful love.[203] Elvin Luciano of CNN Philippines wrote: "During her [initial] phase, she proved that Filipino love songs don't have to come pre-packaged in the kundiman-rooted love ballad."[203] Her later releases Nineteen 90 and Reason Enough capitalized on these themes.[205] Velasquez began working with foreign songwriters with her first regional album, Listen Without Prejudice.[40] The record was strongly influenced by adventurous, contemporary music with most of the songs using syncopated backbeats with hip-hop influences.[40]

During the mid-1990s to early 2000s, Velasquez's albums consisted primarily of cover versions of international material because of its commercial viability, and Filipinos' preference for American music.[49][58][203] According to CNN Philippines, "Regine has a knack for choosing songs which at first, may not fit her, but eventually become her own."[203] Many of her songs, particularly in Retro, Drawn and R2K contained R&B, soul and hip-hop influences.[49][53][58] Velasquez's eleventh studio album Reigne is an OPM album that she described as "songs influenced by the music, artists, and genres that I enjoy listening to."[203] Most of the tracks are reflectively melancholic, lyrical and poetic.[203] Her crossover to film saw significant use of contemporary love ballads in her catalog of soundtrack themes.[203][206][207] Her records often blend ballads and uptempo tracks that are straightforward, earnest and lyrically simple.[203]

Voice and timbre

Velasquez is known for her use of vocal belting.[5] She was ranked first in a 2011 FemaleNetwork countdown of the 25 Best Filipina Singers,[208] and is listed as one of the Ten Most Admired Female Singers in Asia by Malaysian magazine Top 10 of Asia, with other female entertainers, including Lea Salonga, Siti Nurhaliza and Tata Young.[209] Velasquez credits the intensive vocal training she received from her father as a child.[11] She said of going through vocal runs while submerged in neck-deep sea-water, "My father did that ... it was supposed to make my stomach muscle stronger ... develop my lung power ... make my voice stronger."[11]

Velasquez is a soprano[210] and is often praised for her range and technical ability.[5] Elvin Luciano of CNN Philippines complimented her "trademark and sometimes melismatic vocals",[203] while AllMusic's David Gonzales adds her singing is "strong, emotive, and confident".[46] However, she has often been criticized for excessive usage of belting and oversinging.[211] AllMusic described her timbre as "thin, unimpressive and unappealing at times" and observed her singing as "aiming for a higher [note], [which] she did all too often."[46] Velasquez said of the constant scrutiny, "I don't mean to make any songs hard. It's just that when I'm on stage, with the adrenaline rush and all, you get excited. I do try to hold back [because] otherwise I'd be screaming the whole show, that's not good."[211]

Influence

Velasquez wearing a blue gown while singing
Velasquez performing "Songbird" live during her fragrance launch for clothing brand Bench

Velasquez's vocal style and singing ability have significantly impacted Philippine popular and contemporary music.[212] Referred to as Asia's songbird by critics,[5][213] she is often cited as one of Filipino music's most influential voices.[212][214] As entertainment writer Allan Policarpio of the Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote, "Regine needed only to open her mouth and that celebrated voice would come out. She could sing seated, lying down or hoisted up in the air with a harness—no problem. And even when she was so sick she couldn't speak, she could still sing."[212] Velasquez has also been recognized for playing a pivotal role in creating the "blue print" of becoming a "singing icon".[215] Many critics complimented her work, often singling out Velasquez's influence: Elvin Luciano, writing for CNN Philippines, described her "legitimacy" as "enough to secure a space in pop culture", and remarked that her musical career "continues to influence generations of OPM patrons and songbird wannabes up to this day,"[203] while The Philippine Star added, "If one were to go by records and distinctions made, Regine Velasquez would win, hands down."[5] She has often been regarded as a trailblazer in music for her performances and musical content.[216]

Despite her vocal prowess, Velasquez's use of vocal belting has been subject to public scrutiny mainly because young singers such as those on talent shows have been overly imitating her singing technique. Critics have commented: "The popularity of 'birit' [belting] started here with the amateur singing contests. Then came Regine Velasquez, who also launched her own singing career the 'birit' way. Trouble is, Regine's belting became so popular that her successors ... imitated her."[217] The Manila Bulletin also added that "Most of our top selling new female singers are still and mere parrots of her in terms of vocal acrobatics and predilection to show off her high range."[218] As writer and publicist Boy Abunda noted, "Most of the young female singers currently making waves in the industry are cut from the same biritera [belter] cloth as Regine Velasquez."[219]

Among the pop, hip-hop and R&B artists in the Philippines who have cited Velasquez as an influence are Aicelle Santos,[220] Charice,[221] Erik Santos,[222] Jona Viray,[220] Julie Anne San Jose,[220] KZ Tandingan,[223] Kyla,[223] Maricris Garcia,[224] Mark Bautista,[225] Morissette Amon,[220] Toni Gonzaga[226] and Yeng Constantino.[223] Velasquez's music has broadly influenced a younger generation of performers, Sarah Geronimo has stated how the singer made her realize the value of hard work,[227] while Rachelle Ann Go and Angeline Quinto have both mentioned her as an inspiration in their early years as aspiring singers.[228][229] American Idol finalists Ramiele Malubay,[230] Thia Megia[231] and Jessica Sanchez[232] have all expressed desire to emulate her.

Velasquez has also been credited for her work and performances with international artists, including 98 Degrees, Alicia Keys, Coco Lee, Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson and Stephen Bishop among others.[5] French musical composer and arranger Michel Legrand described working with Velasquez, saying "It's tough to sing a song after Barbra Streisand, I will tell you. But to sing with Regine is, I'm in heaven. She sings so well, she has such an extraordinary technical voice ... sensitive voice and talented expression."[233] American singer Brian McKnight who co-headlined a concert with Velasquez has complimented her singing, stating: "I got to sing onstage with Regine and it was one of the best experiences ever because she's one of the best singers I've ever heard."[234]

Other activities

Philanthropy

Velasquez has been involved with several charitable organizations. She became associated with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 2001,[235] and worked on a documentary produced by MTV Asia, titled Speak Your Mind.[235] The organization sought to encourage broadcasters to play a more active role in promoting and protecting children's rights.[236] The documentary featured the plight of homeless children in Payatas, Quezon City, one of the Philippines' largest open dumpsite.[235] It explored issues concerning children's welfare with an in-depth focus on hazardous working environment risks and child abuse.[235] The production was nominated for the UNICEF Child Rights Award.[236]

One of Velasquez's highest-profile benefit concert appearances was on ABS-CBN's 2002 special, One Night with Regine,[79] during which she performed at the National Museum of the Philippines in support of the Bantay Bata Foundation, a child welfare organization.[79] In 2005, Velasquez appeared in an episode of the lifestyle talk show Mel and Joey and donated proceeds from her auctioned gowns to the GMA Kapuso Foundation's Christmas Give-a-Gift project.[237] In 2009, Velasquez headlined a musical special, After The Rain, a nationally televised fundraiser and documentary in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy).[238] In October 2010, Velasquez became an ambassador for Operation Smile,[239] a nonprofit medical service organization that provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide.[240][241] She recorded the theme "S.M.I.L.E.", which was written for the project, and appears on her fifteenth studio album.[239] In November 2013, proceeds from the sales of her album Hulog Ka Ng Langit were donated to the Philippine Red Cross in support of the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) relief.[242]

Product endorsements

Velasquez has been involved in brand marketing initiatives since early in her career.[243] She recorded and promoted a series of television commercials for American fast food restaurant chains, Wendy's and KFC.[243] Velasquez has also signed advertising deals with several brands, including, Digitel, Lux, Nestle Philippines, Nokia, and Smart Telecommunications.[243] Throughout 2004 and 2005, she appeared as the face of the Department of Tourism's travel promotion campaign.[243][244] In August 2009, Velasquez released her line of women's fragrance for clothing brand Bench, called Reigne and Songbird.[245][246]

Personal life

Velasquez confirmed her relationship with singer and songwriter Ogie Alcasid in June 2007 in an article published by Yes! magazine.[247][248] On August 8, 2010, the couple announced their engagement,[249][250] and in December the couple married in Nasugbu, Batangas.[251] On November 8, 2011, she gave birth to their son, Nathaniel James via caesarean section.[252][253]

Velasquez is a born again Christian.[254] In March 2016, she revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage prior to her marriage to Alcasid and cited the personal tragedy as her reason for converting.[254] She has stated that she has been attending Victory Christian Fellowship.[254]

Honors and awards

Throughout Velasquez's career, she has collected many honors and awards, including MTV Asia's Favorite Artist Philippines in 2002[76] and 2003,[255] the Asian Television Awards' Best Musical Program in 2002[81] and Best Entertainment Special in 2003[256] and the Aliw Awards' Entertainer of the Year in 2007[257] and 2009.[258] She has been the recipient of lifetime achievement awards, including the Awit Awards' Dangal ng Musikang Pilipino,[259] the Star Awards for Music's Natatanging Alagad Ng Musika,[260] FAMAS Awards' Golden Artist[261] and Myx Music's Magna Award.[111]

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Velasquez has sold more than seven million records in the Philippines and a further 1.5 million in Asia, making her the biggest-selling Filipino artist in OPM history.[88] Eight of her albums have tallied sales exceeding of 200,000 copies each.[88] Velasquez was ranked first in Female Network's 2011 countdown of the "Top 25 Best Filipina Singers"[208] and was included in Top 10 Asia magazine's list of "Ten Most Admired Female Singers in Asia".[209] Aside from her music career, Velasquez has received recognition for her work in television and film; she was given the Box Office Queen award in 2002,[169] the Star Awards for Television's Best Actress in 2002,[172] and the Golden Screen Awards' Best Actress in 2013.[194] As well, she has received a total of 21 Awit Awards,[262] 20 Box Office Entertainment Awards,[263] 13 Aliw Awards,[264] and 9 Star Awards for Music.[265] In December 2007, Velasquez was honored with a star on the Philippines' Walk of Fame.[266]

Discography

Filmography

Concerts

Headlining concerts

Co-headlining concerts

Concert series

See also

References

Footnotes

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Book sources

External links

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