The making of a champion

(The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former Pinoy Idol finalist Carol Leus doesn’t easily say die. After she didn’t make it to the Top 12 in the talent search two years ago, the then 17-year-old Carol didn’t let her dejection get the better of her.

“I felt disappointed,” she admits. But the thought of giving up singing never crossed her mind. In fact, she continued to join singing contests left and right in Dubai, where her parents are based and where she was then taking up high school.

Carol placed second at Starquest 2003 and was declared grand champion of the 2004 TFC Pop Star search in Dubai. Carol bested 60 contestants, some of them veteran singers.

What made her stand out among the sea of wannabes who had one eye on fame and the other on the grand prize of 60,000 Dirhams (or P200,000) plus a house and lot in General Trias, Cavite?

The answer, according to board of judges chair Louie Ocampo is raw talent.

“He said they were looking for someone fresh, someone new,” relates Carol. Ocampo and the rest of the jurors must have seen how she poured her heart and soul into her winning piece, Whitney Houston’s Run to You.

She emerged the winner, hands-down.

Like a magic door that opened to a whole new world of opportunity, Carol’s victory took her to various venues where she hosted shows and contests for TFC (The Filipino Channel).

She knew, however, that hands-on experience is just half the battle. She wanted to look for a good school when she reached college. So she got her parents’ blessings to fly to Manila and enroll in a university here, “where education is better.”

Carol passed the UPCAT and enrolled under a BS Biology course at UP Los Baños.

But since music is her first love (she taught herself to play the guitar), Carol transferred to Manila when she learned that De La Salle – College of St. Benilde was offering a new course called AB Music Production. Carol got a rent-to-own condo unit along Taft Avenue (near Benilde) and enrolled in Music Production. She now has only one year to go before graduation.

“My music production subjects are interesting,” says Carol. “Subjects include music theory, songwriting, recording and of course playing musical instruments. I’m learning how to play the keyboard and the piano.”

Carol didn’t just bury herself in books. She was also going back and forth in the recording studio to prepare for her self-titled debut album, with her father, Arman Leus as executive producer and her uncle Boy Christopher as producer.

Unlike other albums which take the tried and tested path of formula songs and covers, Carol and Boy Christopher dared come up with originals (Hindi Ako Laruan is the only revival track).

The 12 songs in the album center on things a normal teenager like 19-year-old Carol feels. The catchy carrier single Timang, like the rest of the tracks depict young love . One track, Paalam at Good Luck revolves around graduation.

Carol can easily identify with some of the songs — like those about falling in love, because she’s been there, done that. But others, like Paalam at Good Luck, can only be sung with all the yearning she can muster as Carol has yet to reach of goal of getting that coveted college diploma.

Knowing her, Carol will not stop until her dreams come true. She’s proven it, and she will prove it again.

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