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The girl named Charito

MANILA, Philippines - Pinay jazz singer Charito has reaped all the accolades from all over the world. She has released international albums in Asia, USA, France, South America and the Middle East. She has been topbilled in the most prestigious jazz vocalist for more than three decades.

And yet, Charito remains quite unheralded in her own country. Only avid jazz enthusiasts know a little something about the world-class jazz artist.

With her enormous talent and impressive credentials, Charito deserves more than a simple introduction.

She was still in college when she joined a singing contest cum audition, conducted by the Hotel, Restaurant and Bar Association of Japan. Charito was declared champion and among her prizes were a six-month working visa to Japan and a six-month engagement at Scotch Bar, a classy venue during that time.

The auspicious start began nurturing her jazz artistry. The gutsy Pinay has also formed her own groups, which performed in the most prestigious hotels and venues in Japan. As her career continued to bloom, Charito also became a most in-demand studio session musician, until she released her first album, The Girl, released by Nippon Crown. Charito is the first foreign artist under the leading Japanese record label.

From the start, it was always smooth sailing for Charito.

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“Not a bit of difficulty nor bitter struggle for me,” Charito beamed. But what I lack in pain or hyper-emotional experience, I make up with my limitless passion for my art.”

This burning desire to perpetually strive to improve her craft has given Charito the imaginary wings, that have brought her to foreign lands. In every country she has performed or released an album, the jazz star has always left an indelible mark of excellence. Audiences adored her. Critics hailed her as a top exponent of her genre.

Her live gigs have always been remarkable. She received thunderous applause from the 70,000 strong crowd at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, her first jazzfest outside Japan.

As Charito’s name topbilled most prestigious jazz festivals, she has collaborated with the likes of Harry Whitaker, Alex Blake, Wallace Rooney, Cornell Dupree, Buddy Williams and David Espinozza, in recorded albums and live concerts.

Reviewers said her concert tour covering Chicago, New York, Ottowa, Toronto and Montreal, was nothing short of enthralling. She toured several cities in China as part of the Lost Chart ensemble. She also released the Forevermore album in the US and Canada.

Charito has also performed in Seoul, as part of the World Jazz All Stars. All her performances in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Seoul are considered memorable musical events.

In 2004, Charito recorded the album Non Stop To Brazil, with Ivan Lins. Recorded in Sao Paolo, the rich and senous jazz/pop vocal arrangement by Charito and Lins, made the Afro-Latin album special.

The same year, she was invited by and performed with Jan Jarezyk’s group in the Karakow Jazz Festival in Poland. She was also invited to be a faculty member of the Chodziez International Jazz Workshop.

“It’s such a new high and sense of fulfillment to share the things I learned and treasured to young and aspiring talents,” she mused. “During those voice classes, there were also opportunities to acquire precious knowledge from young artists. It has always been a symbiotic relationship.

Charito has her own voice workshop in Tokyo. Sharing her knowledge with international voice students is Charito’s way of giving back the continuous blessings in her career.

She has received several Gold Disc awards and Best Vocal Performance trophies from award-giving worldwide. She did a New York recording with the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, the first venture of the MJO with a vocalist. She also performed in Augsburg Germany’s Agustiana Hall, where she conducted a master class workshop for voice students at the Downtown Music Institute.

She received Gold Disc and Best Vocal Performance awards for her Nica’s Dream album in 2007. The next album, Now And Always, featured her new group, Music Virus.

Her first performances in Russia, at the Old Fortress International Jazz Festival, was in 2008. The same year, she was a featured solo vocalist at the Atlanta Jazz Festival and Black Arts Jazz Festival.

She did a collaboration with Michel Legrand, Watch What Happens, featuring the maestro’s movie theme in provocative interpretations.

Legrand paid tribute to Charito’s vocal styling when he said, “The album is a beautiful and spontaneous interpretation of life.”

Before the end of historic 2008, Charito toured Switzerland, with Juerg Mongenthaler’s Jazz Four. She later fulfilled engagements in New York clubs the same year.

In 2009, Charito was featured artist at the Jazz Aux Lles Festival in Tahiti. She also performed and conducted voice workshops at the Philippine Jazz Festival. She got rave reviews for her stint at the Jazz A Vienne Sydney Festival and was among the jazz greats in the Los Angeles Fil-Am Jazz Festival last December.

Early this year, Charito showcased her Michel Legrand repertoire at the Doha Jazz Festival in Qatar.

Her new album, Heal The World, produced by Harvey Mason, takes Charito to a new level and endless possibilities. Most of the songs for the certified gold CD, will be performed at the Charito Live homecoming concert at the Hard Rock Café, Makati on July 30.

For details, call 0920-9477968, 383-7131 or Cookie Del Gallego at 0917-8040137 or 216-9565.

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