MW / "Sultry" jazz "diva"

12:00:00 AM

Ridiculous, embarrassing.

Those were the two words that popped in my head when I read the script that introduced me as a "sultry jazz diva" for my four-song set over dinner at Technocirque, the launch event for Lenovo and Microsoft's latest product line. I am far from sultry, and I am also not a diva. I was just a jazz singer - one that didn't look like one, as a matter of fact. I had to fight the impulse to cross the words out of the script and replace them with "boyish neophyte jazz singer."

The back story

A couple of weeks before the event, I met JM, Mark, and Wills through our common friend, Jerry. I wasn't even supposed to go there; I was home in Eastwood when I got a distress text from Jerry, who said he needed help to get home. He bailed me out once when I was the one in (big) trouble, so I headed over to do the same for him. 
The first meeting.
(photo borrowed from Wills' Instagram account)
I went there thinking that I would just pick him up and bring him home, but I ended up staying because they were just so much fun to be with! :) I actually stayed with the group longer than he did, because he could go home on his own after all. Franny, whom I've briefly met before through my other friend AR, joined us later that evening (or morning, to be accurate). 

We talked about our respective jobs, and I learned that the three were in events, and they met Jerry during his days in an advertising agency handling a cigarette account. They asked me how I knew Jerry, and he told them that we met at my friend's wedding. He went on to say that I was the "wedding singer," and that if they ever needed a jazz/bossa nova singer, they might want to consider me. 

I didn't think anything of it at the time, so I was surprised when, one random evening a couple of weeks later, I got a call from JM asking me to sing at an event they were mounting for Lenovo and Microsoft.  Without thinking twice, I blurted out a YES. I asked for the help of Kristine, a Cyrano friend, to find a guitarist, and she referred me to Mike Bon. I was all set! :)

Days before the event, I was asked to go to the shop of a designer to fit a gown. I haven't worn one since my brother's wedding, and that wasn't even a gown per se - it was just a bridesmaid's dress. And when I asked about hair and makeup, I was told that they would take care of it, too. I've had lots of gigs before, but this was definitely the first time I felt I was being treated like royalty. It was oh-so-nice! :)

The gig
(photo by JC Valencia)
It was surreal. It's been a month since the gig, but to this day, I still have moments when I have to convince myself that the event actually happened. And every time I look back, I am overcome with gratitude to the divine forces in play, and to the people who made something I wouldn't even dare dream of become a reality.
(photo by JC Valencia)
During the dead hours leading to the event, I struggled to keep a straight face every time I thought about the intro. I imagined how disappointed the audience will be, expecting a sultry jazz diva and  then see me take the stage instead. But I guess I underestimated the power of couture and high-heeled shoes, and of the right hair and makeup. 
By the time I hit the stage, a part of me actually believed I was the sultry jazz diva introduced by Solar News Network's Menchu Antigua-Macapagal, who hosted the event. I'm too self-aware to fully believe the act, but in the moments that I let go, I really felt larger than life. 

In a previous blog post, I said that although I didn't consider myself ugly, I would never be the type to say out loud that I'm beautiful. Aimee Grey did my hair and makeup (with false eyelashes to boot!), and when she was done, I almost didn't recognize myself. For the first time ever, I actually gave myself the license to claim that I was pretty. She did an awesome job of transforming me from plain jane to glamour girl!  
(photo by JC Valencia)
(photo by JC Valencia)
(photo by JC Valencia)
And in a white sequined John Paras number, I took the stage for my first set, feeling like a princess. The whole experience was just absolutely exhilarating! I sang Dusty Springfield's I Only Wanna Be With You, Sting's Englishman in New York, Maroon 5's Sunday Morning, Amy Winehouse's Love is a Losing Game, and Antonio Carlos Jobim's The Girl from Ipanema (in Portuguese, of course). 
(photo by JC Valencia)
(photo by JC Valencia)
(photo by JC Valencia)
(photo by JC Valencia)
For the second set, I changed into a black Bea Albert gown, and JM commented that the look was reminiscent of Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf. I agree! And I loved the gown so much that I only took it off a couple of hours after singing. I sang Norah Jones' Don't Know Why, D'Sound's Tattooed on my Mind, and Carole King's It's Too Late.   
Bassist with the wrong guitar: Goofing off backstage
(photo by Mike Bon)
Being self-critical, I'll admit I don't think I did too well. I missed a few notes, mainly because I was actually nursing a really bad cold. It was my first time to perform with Mike, and we didn't really get a lot of practice time in the days leading to the event. My friends were really nice about it; they complimented the good parts, and they also gave constructive criticism. 

I'll try to do better next time - I'm booked to sing at a couple of weddings next year, so I'm already gearing up for that. :) I'll practice more often, and I'll also build my repertoire. Right now, I'm too focused on old music. I was actually asked to sing a Top 40 song, but I wasn't able to because I didn't know anything new. 
(photo by JC Valencia)
For the record, though, I'm not setting out to become a full-time singer. Don't get me wrong - I'm very passionate about singing, and music in general - I wouldn't dedicate a section of my blog to it if I weren't. But I know I don't really have that X-factor to make it big, so I'm happy with the occasional gigs that I get. 
The third dress. Too bad I had nothing more to sing.
And of all the gigs I landed so far, this is my favorite. After singing, I hung out with the team in the room that they got at the Crowne Plaza. I got to put on a third dress, a black and gold sequined dress, also by Bea Albert. It was so nice, I wished I had a third set to wear it to! Haha! I also got to enjoy buffet breakfast at the hotel! Woohoo! :)
Wills and me after my sets. I didn't want to take the dress off! :)
Good vibes all the way!
I don't think I'll be able to top this incredible experience, and for the nth time, I'd like to thank JM, Mark, and Wills, for letting me have it. Shoutout to Mike for accompanying me, to Kristine for helping me find him, to Jerry for being the connector that made this possible, to fashion designers John Paras and Bea Albert for my lovely dresses, to makeup artist Aimee for my new face, and to Evoy and the rest of the team for being so wonderful. Love you all! :)


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