Louie Reyes lives the best of both worlds

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2013 - 12:00am

From the moment Louie Reyes decided on a career in Music Education and Voice from the College of the Holy Spirit (CHS) in Manila, she has made use of her degree through recording, jingles, concerts, coaching and musical theater both here and in the US upon migrating there in 1999.

She has also made it a point of visiting her homeland yearly to make her presence felt in a concert or two. Louie has presented major solo concerts worldwide, performing with such renowned artists as David Benoit, Noel Pointer and Diana Reeves. In the US, she taught at the Arts Development School of Music in Bellflower, California, a reputable international school offering lessons in all music genres including voice.

Beyond all these, however, Louie is best known as one of the New Minstrels who have had performed before ecstatic Filipino and foreign audiences. The Minstrels were originally a trio from San Beda College, Louie tells us, formed by Cesar de la Fuente who became her husband. In 1971, they thought of re-formatting to include girls and the New Minstrels were born.

An even more popular concept has been the New Minstrels-Circus Band combine which covered the amazing ’70s in music. We had watched a smaller version at the Music Museum called Loving in the ’70s, which was packed to the rafters.

The coming concert Circus-New Minstrels Greatest Hits Reunion at the CCP Plenary Hall will include 11 of the original players come Sept. 20. Performing are the best of the best in any language — Hajji Alejandro, Tillie Moreno, Pat Castillo, Jacqui Magno and Basil Valdez of the Circus Band. Representing the New Minstrels, apart from Louie, are Ding Mercado, Joey Albert, Ray An Fuentes, Chad Borja and Eugene Villaluz. Rudy Lozano, former Circus lead guitarist, is musical director.

We have met most of them who are based in the Philippines, but seldom get to watch the others. Louie tells us that she became a singer in Grade 2 when a classmate, the lead in a school presentation, lost her voice and Louie was asked to take over. Apparently, it was common knowledge that the irrepressible Louie had been watching rehearsals and knew all the songs by heart. The sad part of the story is that she sang into a mic backstage, while the star lip-synched the role onstage.

From then on, although her initial ambition had always been to become a teacher, Louie started singing in all disciplines, including the classics for which she trained for four years in various languages. “But I will not have the courage to stand onstage and perform side by side with a classical singer,” she confesses. It is interesting, however, that people are at a loss on how to categorize Louie. She would render performances in just about any style. 

The New Minstrels and Circus Band members always knew one another. Through that long period in Manila’s pop music history, they were the only two show bands that mattered, always pitted against each other. If in basketball it is La Salle versus Ateneo, in pop music it is Minstrels versus the Circus Band. In their case, however, they enjoy performing together, such concerts together drawing the most people. Which gives us an idea: Why doesn’t someone put up an Ateneo-La Salle combine versus a foreign team? That would break all records, we think!

Louie shares with us some memories from the period. Rudy Lozano was musical director of the Minstrels who joined the Circus Band as guitarist years later. It’s the other way around for Ray An Fuentes, a Circus Band member who became a Minstrel and met his future wife Meiling Gozun, a Minstrels alto.

Unlike others, however, Louie never specialized. She would perform in all musical genres. Our earliest memory of her was at the jazz place in QC Birds of the Same Feather with Eddie Katindig.

An evening of R&B, disco, rock, funk and romantic ballads from ’70s will be performed at the Sept. 20 concert. The audience may expect songs like The Harder I Try, I Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely, Celebration, Mr. Melody, One In A Million, There’s No Easy Way, Love The One You’re With, Wildflower, some Motown, Santana, Barry Manilow, Earth Wind & Fire and possibly Body and Soul, Louie’s favorite.

Produced by Viva Live, Inc. and Redstone Media Productions, the concert series goes to University of Baguio on Sept. 26, and the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on Sept. 28.

(E-mail your comments to bibsyfotos@yahoo.com.)


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