Cetera sings for the glory of love
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - February 4, 2009 - 12:00am

In the late ’60s, the rock band Chicago captured the imagination of millions worldwide with its exquisite and endearing sound that produced such hits as If You Leave Me Now; Hard To Say I’m Sorry; Baby, What a Big Surprise; You’re My Inspiration; Stay The Night; Love Me Tomorrow; Happy Man; Feeling Stronger Every Day; Along Comes a Woman, etc.

The voice behind these songs was Peter Cetera who broke away from the band in the mid-’80s. As a solo artist, Cetera came up with more hits, including Just You And Me, I’ve Been Searching For So Long, Call On Me, Wishing You Were Here, Old Days, No Tell Lover, The Next Time I Fall (a duet with Amy Grant), Feels Like Heaven (a duet with Chaka Khan), After All (a duet with Cher, included in the movie Chances Are), No Explanations (from the movie Pretty Woman), Hold Me Till The Morning Comes (a duet with Paul Anka) and, but of course, Glory Of Love, theme song of the movie The Karate Kid Part II which was nominated for a Best Song Oscar.

Cetera is starring in a Valentine concert on Feb. 14 at the Araneta Coliseum, which marks the Philippine debut of his acclaimed “Symphony Tour” group which features a 42-piece symphony orchestra.

Cetera granted Funfare an exclusive interview by phone.

You were in Manila 12 years ago with Chicago, the band you were connected with. What do you remember from that visit?

“I remember that I didn’t like the place where we played. It was some kind of a club and it was not a very nice experience. It’s going to be a different situation this time.”

You are performing in the biggest dome not only in the Philippines but in Asia.

“Ah, it will be a wonderful show. I’ve been doing this with many symphony orchestras around the US and Canada and, yeah, it will be a great, fun show. Everybody gets a chance to hear all the songs and all the hits.”

You are going to serenade your Manila fans with love songs on Valentine’s Day. How romantic are you as a person and as a singer?

“I think the songs that I’ve written kind of show my romantic side.”

How do you express your being romantic? Do you say it with flowers or chocolates or love notes?

“When I sing, I sing from the heart and I think people can feel that.”

If you were to court a woman with a song, what would the song be?

“Hahahaha! Glory of Love would probably be one of them. Well, you know, it’s a good message to send to a woman: I am a man who would fight for your honor. I think any woman would like a man who would fight for her honor.”

Aside from Glory of Love, which three of your many songs are closest to your heart?

“You know, the songs that I’ve written are all close to my heart. I can’t name just three. They are like my children. No favorites. You love them all for different reasons.”

What song by another singer do you like most?

“Hmmmm. I have no idea.”

What do you consider the song of your life?

“As a songwriter, there’s not just one song that keeps playing in my mind over and over again. I’m always influenced by what I hear that day. The next day when I hear another song on the radio, that’s what keeps playing in my mind. And then the next day comes another song...”

What inspires you to write songs?

“You know, it’s always different. Sometimes, I can be very happy and write meaningful songs; sometimes, I’m sad and I write sad songs. I am inspired by my thoughts and my mood at the moment I’m writing a song.”

Would you remember the first song that you’ve ever sung? How old were you then?

“The first song? Hmmmm...It had to be Row, Row, Row Your Boat. You know that old favorite. We were five kids in the family and when we did our work around the house, my mother taught us the harmony in singing that song. And then I started listening to Top 40 on the radio and then to all kinds of songs, from country to western to pop to everything. My mom was always singing around the house.”

How old were you when you realized that you wanted to pursue singing as a career?

“Hmmmm...I think I was maybe 11 or 12 years old when I realized that I could sing really good and everybody who heard me sing would tell me, ‘Ah, you sing really good!’ When I got into high school, I started seriously thinking of pursuing a career as a singer.”

You’ve been singing solo (minus Chicago) since 1985. How has it been so far?

“Well, it has been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and, hmmmm...yeah, it’s been fun! And now with the symphony concert which I’ve been doing for five years...I have a four-piece unplugged group that I travel with from Nashville...it’s even more fun. We’ve also been doing smaller venues with a string quartet as well.”

You’ve been around for four decades...one of the most enduring singers around. Do you continue learning as you mellow?

“Yeah, I do. I think you continue re-learning what you wanna sing and how you wanna sing it, and what you don’t wanna sing. I still do vocal exercises a couple of weeks before I go on the road. I try to keep my voice in shape as best as I can. I’ve realized that singing and performing is a fleeting thing and if you don’t take care of yourself and your voice, then you lose it. And I’m not ready to lose it.”

How do you take care of your voice?

“I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. I try to exercise as much as I can. I do warm-up vocal exercises regularly.”

What kind of music do you listen to?

“All kinds. I listen to a little bit of everything. I notice that even a lot of the younger kids are picking up once again on the older type of music because some of the new stuff are, let’s just say, not so melodic. A song has to have melody before I get to like it. I know from my Philippine fans and friends how much you love to sing, so I’m expecting everybody to sing along with me when I get over there.”

(Note: Peter Cetera Live in Manila is presented by Music Management International and Ovation Productions, headed by Renen de Guia, with The Philippine STAR among the sponsors. Ticket prices are P7,875, P5,775, P4,725, P3,150, P1,575 and P630. Call Ticketnet at 911-5555 or Ovation Productions at 532-8883.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

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