Simply phenomenal

Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – How do you sum up an artist’s legacy in a matter of minutes?

In the case of Jessa Zaragoza’s recent I Am Me solo concert at the Music Museum last month, two hours were more than enough to reacquaint her audience with her stature as an OPM icon.

Opening her show was a video montage culled from recent tribute posts from her Facebook and Instagram followers.

The heartwarming compilation featured song snippets and personal messages from some of Jessa’s closest showbiz friends, including Gladys Reyes, Bela Padilla, Mr. Fu and even Sarah Geronimo. Of special significance was the video personally sent by the late German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, two days before he passed away.

As a fitting token of gratitude to her former showbiz mentor, Jessa brought her audience close to tears with her rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings.

It was a sentimental trip down memory lane as Jessa belted out her signature hits including Di Ba’t Ikaw, Siya Ba Ang Dahilan, Nahuli Kita, Ibigay Mo Na, Paano Kaya and Bakit Pa.

Jessa retraced her musical roots, recalling the songs that were instrumental in forging her singing style.

Although she never really made a career out of being anyone’s sound-alike, Jessa proved to be a revelation with her near-perfect takes of her musical idols, including Basia’s Time & Tide, Toni Braxton’s Breathe Again and even her medley of Shirley Bassey hits.

What came as a surprise to many was how it turned out that she was the voice behind quite a number of top-rating movies and teleseryes over the past decades, including Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas, Bata-Bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit, Jewel in the Palace and The Princess’ Man. All throughout the medley, excerpts from the aforementioned films served as the video backdrop.

One of the concert’s most applauded (and much-awaited) spots was Jessa’s duet with 12-year-old daughter Jayda, who has been getting her fair share of the limelight lately because of her prodigious talent (not to mention her being tagged as the Ariana Grande of the Philippines).

Clad in revealing outfits, Jesssa and Jayda looked more like sisters as they emerged from both sides of the stage with their respective back-up dancers, challenging and taunting each other with their creative mash-up of Britney Spears and Ariana tunes, including Slave, Work, Work and Hit Me Baby.

As the musical drama unfolded and built up to its feverish pitch, tension resolved into levity and hilarity with the surprise appearance of Jessa’s Pepito Manaloto co-star and Bubble Gang mainstay, Michael V.

“Ako ang iyong konsyensya,” Bitoy muttered, clad in her mock-divaesque outfit of tapis and bakya, as he revealed how he, as Jessa’s alter ego, had been an unseen yet guiding voice all throughout her storied career.

For all the accolades she earned for her sheer lung power and showmanship, Jessa readily acknowledges that a sizeable chunk of the concert’s success can be credited to its director: Jessa’s better half Dingdong Avanzado.

After all, who else would be in the best position to encapsulate Jessa’s storied career, and weave everything into an engaging narrative?

“The biggest challenge was trying to show Jessa’s real musical identity, which probably even her most loyal fans might not even be aware of. From all the tribute videos submitted to us, what became clear was how she had become a big influence to generations of Pinoys from all over the world, who knew all her hits. There was even this one American guy who had all her albums from way, way back.”

Ensuring the show’s tight and seamless musical interplay was the couple’s long-time musical director/arranger Elmer Blancaflor, together with their ensemble, The Doorbells.

Just like Dingdong’s recent #Hitback concert series, the couple also disclosed that there’s a good chance that Jessa’s concert might be slated for a US tour this year.

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