Zendee’s dreams are now coming true

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2013 - 12:00am

It is always amazing when someone’s dream comes true. But surely, even Zendee Rose Tenerefe didn’t imagine that one day, she would become like all the singers she idolized, fly to the US, meet Ellen de Generes face-to-face and release her own debut album.

But all those things have come to pass, and no one could be happier about them than the 21-year-old YouTube sensation who was supposedly discovered while singing at a videoke display at SM Megamall where she performed Jennifer Holliday’s And I Am Telling You. The video of that performance — which was posted on YouTube on July 28 under the title “Random Girl” — quickly went viral, garnering over two million hits, 14,063 likes and more than 5,000 comments. With that kind of attention coming her way, it wasn’t long before the General Santos City native got the attention of a major recording company. She was eventually signed to a recording contract by Warner Music Philippines. The video also got her noticed by the Ellen de Generes Show, which flew her and representatives from Warner Music Philippines to Los Angeles for taping.

Zendee’s debut in Ellen — a performance of And I Am Telling You (yes, the same song she sang in her YouTube video) — aired on Oct. 26, 2012. During the show, De Generes gave Zendee an iPad 3 made to look like a miniature portable videoke machine, filled with all her favorite songs.

But it is the release of her album I Believe that caps Zendee’s incredible rise to fame. Her nine-track album features six original compositions and three cover songs, including Go the Distance, Hallelujah and Love Takes Time, originally sung by Mariah Carey.

The album is proof that she has truly come a long way from the girl who, at six years old, would record her vocals on cassette tapes and send these to her mom, who was then working abroad also as a singer, in the hope that she would be discovered, and then they could be together. On the way to her debut album, Zendee also joined various singing contests, including a brief run in X-Factor Philippines with her friend KZ Tandingan, who eventually went on to win the contest.

But then again, there is always a reason for everything. She may have lost out in X-Factor Philippines, but now she has a debut album and is well on the way to a successful solo career.

This opportunity is a dream come true for Zendee. Ever since she was small, she always wanted to become a singer. “Four years old pa lang po kasi ako, gusto ko na mag-apply na singer sa pinagtatrabahuhan ni Mommy abroad, para magkasama na kami. Tapos n’ung five years old ako, sumasali na ako sa mga singing contest, tapos ‘yung prize ko ibibigay ko sa mga tita ko pambili ng bigas,” she says.

Zendee makes no secret of her humble beginnings. She is also not shy about telling people that she and her mother owed their living to singing. “Dito ako lumaki sa GenSan,” she says. “Dito ko rin nasimulan ‘yung singing career ko, kumukuha kami ni Mommy ng maliliit na gigs para makaraos at makabili ng pagkain.”

She’s been through a lot, and her rise to fame is the best thing that’s happened to her yet. But every step, every stop, along her journey, she considers worth it. Although she knows that this is a competitive industry, she feels good about her chances. “I feel kind of hopeful right now, I feel like life is taking me to a new direction.”

She has no room in her life for regrets. “Wala akong specific na regret,” says Zendee. “Masaya ako sa mga nangyayari sa buhay ko ngayon at masasabi ko na nakarating ako dito dahil sa mga maganda at hindi masyadong magandang mga bagay na nangyari sa buhay ko.”

It is a testament to Zendee’s own determination and belief in herself that her dreams are now coming true. Indeed, I Believe is an apt title for her album because if she didn’t believe in herself and the power of her dreams, she wouldn’t be where she is now. 


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