Kuh sings the classics
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - June 1, 2007 - 12:00am

I believe that singers, particularly the stars who have been blessed with so much, should record the classic songs, even if only once in their lives. They owe it to their fans, who should be made aware of our great musical heritage. They owe it to their country to keep the music of the past alive. If nobody takes the trouble to record the old songs, they will surely die. Then nobody in the future will know that treasures like those ever existed.

Now pop diva Kuh Ledesma took care of paying off this debt early in her career. I remember playing her Unforgettable LP a lot, many years ago but the one that still leaves me awe-struck is her Ako ay Pilipino, an album of contemporary works that she recorded during the late ’70s. It not only remains her best but is also a brilliant showcase for the best Filipino songwriters, musicians and producers of the time. She had no need to do another but I am glad that Kuh has taken the trouble to take the patriotic route one more time with K.

It is most commendable that instead of going out to bat for new songs she might turn into hits Kuh harked back to the past with really old kundimans and even reworked two of her personal favorites in K. In case you are wondering, the simple letter K is the title of the album. But K in this case does not only mean Kuh. It also stands for klasiko or to be more specific the klasikong awitin that the album contains.

She explains why in her dedication on the album cover. Para sa bayan kong mahal, then she goes a bit further, at para rin sa ‘yo Carmen, ang aking mahal na ina. Here then in K is Kuh, the loving daughter. She dedicates her interpretations of the classics to her country and to her mother, maybe because the songs hold a lot of memories or are simply Carmen’s personal favorites.

Included in K and boasting of ear-popping arrangements by Bob Aves are Mutya ng Pasig by Nicanor Abelardo and Deogracias Rosario; Pakiusap by Francisco Santiago and Jose Corazon de Jesus;  Saan Ka Man Naroroon by Restie Umali and Levi Celerio; Nasaan Ka Irog? also by Abelardo with Corazon de Jesus; Ugoy ng Duyan by Lucio San Pedro and Celerio; Bayan Ko by Constancio de Guzman and Corazon de Jesus; Dahil sa ‘Yo by Mike Velarde Jr. and Dominador Santiago; and Lahat ng Araw, another composition by Velarde and Santiago which has come to be known also by the title Silayan.

The songs were well-chosen and are indeed among the most beautiful and enduring Filipino compositions ever written. Kuh’s singing is more expressive than before and I like the way she took the trouble to update the songs. Perhaps taking Nasaan Ka Irog out of the classical vocal mode might finally get kids interested in the song. Hey, because of Kuh, they can now sing the kundiman even without taking voice lessons.

So given all these wonderful qualities of K, I do not see any reason why Kuh decided to include two George Canseco songs she has already done with good results before. Siya na Ba?, a moving ballad but admittedly a minor Canseco hit and a tri-languaged Bulaklak, with Tagalog, French and English lyrics. The latter was one of her big sellers but it is actually a French song given Tagalog lyrics by Canseco. It is always nice to have a Canseco song in any album and these two might end up among the classics someday but they are certainly not klasikong awiting Pilipino as of this moment.

Sorely missed

Goodbye, Yoyoy and Kuya Cesar: The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that there will never be another Yoyoy Villame or Kuya C­­­esar Nocum. These two pop icons passed away within only a few hours of each other last Friday, May 18. Both died of cardiac arrest and will be badly missed.

Yoyoy was 74. He was a jeepney driver blended Filipino folk melodies and nursery rhymes for his music and then added witty lyrics that mixed Tagalog, Cebuano and English in a form of grammar that he concocted. Yoyoy rewrote history with Magellan, established a love team with Barok Labs Dabiana, pitched for physical fitness with Mag-Exercise Tayo and celebrated his fisherman father with Piyesta ng Mga Isda.

Kuya Cesar was 69. His measured mellow tones soothed many troubled souls in his long-running melodrama cum advice radio program. He pioneered entertainment talk radio in Taglish on the FM band, a move that shocked many but which is now the accepted broadcast style. At the time of his death, Kuya Cesar was the host of Ikaw Sa Likod ng Mga Awit over DZMM where he played music from the ’50s.

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