The Tawag Ng Tanghalan (TNT) Boys with host Steve Harvey during their guest appearance on Little Big Shots USA, from left: Mackie Empuerto, Kiefer Sanchez and Francis Concepcion and (below) Kiefer, Francis and Mackie during the interview with The STAR
Will the TNT Boys make it on the international scene?
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2018 - 12:02am

If the likes of Jake Zyrus (formerly Charice Pempengco) could make it on the international scene, why couldn’t the sensational Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT) Boys? After all, didn’t they win the heart of the (hard-to-impress?) Steve Harvey when they appeared as guests on his show, Little Big Shots, which features talented kids (singers, dancers, martial artists, et al.)?

The trio (Francis Concepcion, Kiefer Sanchez and Mackie Empuerto) is so called because they were first noticed — individually, that is...in the Tawag Ng Tanghalan (TNT) segment of ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime. Kiefer placed second, Mackie third and Francis fifth.

Francis, 11, one of nine children, originally from Kawit, Cavite, is in Grade 5. He started singing at age two. Kiefer, 13, from Davao, has one sibling and is in Grade 8. At age three, he was trained how to sing by his mom (a choir member) and his dad (a band member). Mackie, 12, one of three children from Digos City, is in Grade 7. At age four, he began dancing and, at eight, singing, prompting his parents to make him join barangay sing-and-dance contests. They are home-schooled at Catholic Family Academy (CFC).

Vice Ganda was instrumental in forming the trio when the boys guested on his show, Gandang Gabi Vice (GGV), where they sang Beyoncé’s Listen. True to the song’s title, not only Vice but the audience (at the studio and at home, nationwide and abroad via The Filipino Channel) “listened.” There and then, Vice launched the kids as the TNT Boys.

The trio’s GGV guesting went viral, picked up by CNN Philippines until it caught the attention of Steve Harvey. On the LBS, the boys again rendered Listen (and again, made the US audience sit up and “listen”) and Somebody To Love by Florence & The Machine (an English indie rock band formed in London in 2007, composed of vocalist Florence Welch, keyboardist Isabella Summers and a collaboration of other musicians), the same songs they performed when they appeared on the UK version of Little Big Shots.

Photo by Ver Paulino

It was their first trips abroad, all expenses paid, and they came home triumphant. They stayed for one week in the US, came home and after four days proceeded to UK for another week.

Asked what they remembered most from their US sojourn, Francis said, “The food! Ang laki-laki ng French fries, hindi mo kayang kainin ng isang araw lang.”

Steve was so impressed with them that he said he wanted to “adopt” them.

“Biniro pa nga niya kami,” said Kiefer. “Sabi niya, ‘I am your uncle.’ O, di masaya!”

The boys have individual favorites but all together they love the songs of Ariana Grande, Adele, Jessie J, Bruno Mars, Sarah Geronimo and KZ Tandingan. But their No. 1 “lodi” (idol) is Beyoncé — “Because kahit kumakanta siya at sumasayaw,” explained Mackie, “parang wala siyang pagod.”

Not to forget Destiny’s Child, the all-female trio where Beyoncé started before she went solo. On Your Face Sounds Familiar, another ABS-CBN talent competition for children, the TNT Boys performed the Destiny’s Child song Survivor and bagged the grand prize.

As they enter puberty, their voices are bound to change (for the better) and they hope to sound as good as Jed Madela. Asked why, Francis spoke for the group, “Kahit habang nagkaka-edad, mataas pa rin ang boses niya.”

Next Friday, July 13, Francis, Mackie and Kiefer will engage in a “showdown” as guests of Aegis: Doble Dekada, Ang Soundtrack ng Buhay Mo concert at the Big Dome, together with Regine Velasquez, Anne Curtis, Jericho Rosales, Karla Estrada, Jett Pangan and Vice Ganda. (For tickets, call 413-1222/0915-0369464.)

Probinsyano not ending yet

Here’s an ABS-CBN official statement from Kane Errol Choa, head of the Integrated Corporate Communications:

There is no truth to the rumor that FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is scheduled to end soon. Coco Martin and the show’s writers are enjoying the process of coming up with creative ideas to make the story more compelling, as well as collaborating with the cast and the production team. FPJAP continues to enjoy high viewership every night, and our Kapamilyas can expect new twists and characters as it goes into its third year.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com.)

PROBINSYANO STEVE HARVEY TNT BOYS
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