The sweet sound of success
Vocalists and frontliners Suzanne Lansangan-Sabangan and Hermie Angeles in Makilala TV

The sweet sound of success

Leah C. Salterio (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A decade away from home is definitely a long time. However, when that decade translates to ultimate recognition and undeniable success, that time is truly rewarding enough.

Sounds of Manila (SoM), the premier OPM band in the US, is marking a decade of being actively around in the entertainment scene. That time has certainly given the group an enviable level of recognition among Filipinos across the US.

Based in New Jersey, Sounds of Manila was formed in 2008. At that time, band leader and bassist Ronnie Sabangan met some people who were musically inclined and invited them to form a band.

The first recruits were first keyboard player Neil Estanislao, drummer JR Gendrano and lead guitarist Jason Paguiligan. They all came from different bands.

The group thought of having two lead vocalists as the band’s front man and woman, so with Suzanne Lansangan-Sabangan, Sounds of Manila’s female vocalist, they had to look for a male vocalist and that was Hermie Angeles, whom they met in church choir.

The powerful vocal blending of Suzanne and Hermie became the selling point of Sounds of Manila. Completing the other members are Paulo Areza (second keyboard player/back-up vocals) and Christian Hidalgo (percussionist).

It was Suzanne who came up with the name for the eight-member group. “I thought the name Sounds of Manila reminds me of home,” she maintains. “I also wanted the Filipinos in the US to be reminded of the music or the sounds that they listened to when they were back home in the Philippines. 

The CD, Sounds of Manila Sings Cecile Azarcon, is the group’s tribute to the multi-awarded singer-songwriter. The album contains 10 of the songs that Azarcon composed.

“That (album) was a wonderful collaboration with Ms. Azarcon, who also produced our CD,” Suzanne beams. “Many of the songs in our CD were played on the airwaves in Manila (Fresh with George Boone 104.3) and on Internet radios in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.”

Sounds of Manila (SoM), the premier OPM band in the US, is marking a decade of being actively around in the entertainment scene. That time has certainly given the group an enviable level of recognition among Filipinos across the US.

Sounds of Manila had a concert and CD tour with Azarcon in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The group was also featured on various Fil-Am TV shows in the US, including G. Toengi’s Kababayan L.A., Makilala TV in New York, Adobo Nation on The Filipino Channel, Fil-Am Now in Chicago and on MCBN Pinoy Radio Broadcast Center in the Greater Toronto Area.

Moreover, Sounds of Manila has also proudly shared the stage with Grammy-Award winning artists — Patti Austin, Pieces of A Dream and Sherry Winston.

“We’re the first Filipino-American band that performed on the Philly Groove Stage as part of Philadelphia’s Signature July 4th Festival,” Suzanne offers. “We have also shared the stage with artists from the Philippines and performed as special guests in Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas concert at the Golden Nugget Casino and Regine Velasquez’s concert in New Jersey.”

Sounds of Manila has been featured in the concerts of other top Filipino artists who performed in the East Coast, such as Ariel Rivera, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Angeline Quinto, Piolo Pascual, Bugoy Drilon, Sheryn Regis, Rachel Alejandro, Jessa Zaragoza, Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson.

Sounds of Manila has proudly collaborated with brothers Spanky and Roger Rigor of the famous VST & Company. Last year, SoM joined the brothers’ concert in Virginia to celebrate VST & Company’s illustrious 40th anniversary in the Philippine music industry.

On June 15, Sounds of Manila will share the stage anew with Spanky and Roger Rigor for a show in New York City. The show will be produced by Jeliza Olaguera of Infinity Entertainment NYC, with Myrna and Rolan Gutierrez of Queens Asian Festival.

The concert is being held in celebration of Sounds of Manila’s 10th anniversary as well as VST and Company’s 40th year in the Philippine music industry. There are plans to bring the show to Chicago and also Manila.

“We cannot be thankful enough that Sounds of Manila has lasted this long — 10 years,” Suzanne boasts. “We are very proud of our CD and our collaboration with Cecile Azarcon. We feel truly blessed and very honored to have been the only band to do a tribute CD for a legendary OPM composer.

“We are also proud to have had an opportunity to collaborate and work with the legends of the Philippine music industry, who include Lorrie Ilustre, the co-producer/musical arranger of our CD, and Spanky and Roger Rigor of VST & Company.”

What’s in store for the next decade? Sounds of Manila keeps the faith that they will continue to be in the music scene actively and proudly.

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