Joey Albert on 40-year music career: ‘I’m not done yet’

DIRECT LINE CONVERSATIONS - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star
Joey Albert on 40-year music career: �I�m not done yet�
Singer Joey Albert then (left) and now

MANILA, Philippines — The distance may be far and wide but it doesn’t keep Joey Albert away from the hearts and minds of Filipino music enthusiasts who continue to appreciate her timeless music.

Joey has been based in Vancouver, Canada for a couple of years now but I could still vividly recall how pleasant it was to work closely with her during her heydays in the music scene in the early part of the ‘80s. Our years of constant togetherness also led to a lasting friendship.

It’s been years since I last saw Joey in the flesh and that very well explained my excitement to have a chat with her on the virtual space the evening of July 2. Heartening reactions and endearing messages of online viewers flooded the comment section of the Batalk channel (Boy Abunda Talk Channel) on YouTube. Their instant recall of her beautiful songs such as I Remember the Boy, Tell Me, Points of View, Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin and Iisa Pa Lamang truly made her heart so full.

“Oh, I feel wonderful,” reacted Joey on some of the comments that I read to her. “Maski na hindi ko sila kilala, sobrang nakakatuwa, parang if you can be this light to other people, it feels like you have fulfilled something in this world, that you’ve done your part.”

Audiences here and abroad once again will again witness her musical artistry as Joey holds her solo digital concert titled Life Begins @ 40: 40 Years of Joey Albert’s Music. It is slated to go live on ktx.ph on July 11, 8 p.m. (Manila Time) with international global streaming on July 12.

“It’s simple and intimate just as I am,” said Joey of the concert. “It’s me singing to you all the songs of 40 years, 40 years later and I think the title, you know, we can spend another show on this title. It’s me telling there’s life after 40 years of a celebrity career. They’ll find out that after 40 years, I’m not done yet. 

“I took songwriting lessons with Jim Paredes and I’m taking songwriting lessons again with Moy Ortiz and I wrote two Christmas songs. I have a collaboration of a song in this concert with Jim and my former composer, Robert More, has come back and we are preparing a masterpiece. So, there’s so much more to be excited for.”

Produced by Joey herself, the event will be directed by Paolo Valenciano and Joey’s daughter Trixie Albert Pacis. Musical director is Archie Castillo. Tickets are priced at P800 each.   

“Be kind to the people on your way up because they’re the same people you will meet on your way down, Joey, and you will go down. Sinabi n’ya agad sa akin ‘yun from the get go (laughs),” she reminisced on what her mother would often remind her when she joined the music industry.

Here’s the rest of our conversation:

What has love got to do with music and what has music got to do with love?

“Love has everything to do with music and music is the ultimate expression of love because it appeals to all senses. When I sing to you, I don’t just talk to you. You just don’t feel the nuances of my heart, you listen, you see me and you feel my voice in your skin. For me, music is the most sensory expression of love.”

I had a conversation with Ogie Alcasid some years back and he said that the biggest inspiration for songwriters is heartbreak, what’s your take?

“That’s so true because I think my songs lasted because of that. Heartbreak Queen daw ako hahaha. I agree with Ogie because for some weird reason, human nature has it that happy times ang dali-daling kalimutan pero ‘yung hiwa sa puso ang tagal. But it’s true even for us that forgiveness is the hardest thing to do even at my age, that’s because pain is the hardest to get rid of, here (pointing to her heart).”

With forgiveness, now that I have gotten older, it has become less challenging to forgive but I don’t forget.

“You know what, that’s true now, I started delineating kasi nung bata pa tayo parang everybody —  the cliché was forgive and forget — and we expected to be able to do both at the same time. But at my age, I realized that I cannot and I’ve drawn a line between the two. And forgiveness doesn’t always mean that you’ll talk to the person again. Unlike nung bata tayo, sige bati na tayo ulit but now no, because you’re not good for my well-being, you’re toxic and especially after three cancers, Boy, I need to pick the people in my life. I can’t anymore have people draining me of my energy. I can’t keep trying to make you like me anymore.”

With social media, validation from people has become “the thing” but let’s not allow ourselves to be defined by what other people think about us.

“But you know, it took a long time to shake myself off from being defined by other people, being defined by an audience. The simple thing, like how I look because of 40 years in the industry, you sort of have a picture in mind of how you need to look because you know, the audience defines the way you look. And when Zoom started, di ba wala ng makeup so nagiging insecure na ako kasi honestly, I never thought of myself as pretty. I really think I’m not as pretty without makeup.”

I disagree because you’re one of those girls who, with or without makeup, just looked so good. But how did you survive the competition?

“Honestly, I never thought it was a competition. I never had that full vision that we’re going to reach this far, wala akong iniisip na dapat kailangan better ako than ganito. I would just always do my best and this is the thing, I used to get so hurt with how my colleagues would treat me and it didn’t get to me right away. It was only later on when somebody told me, ’Of course Joey, you’re a threat to them and I was like, ‘Why aren’t we friends?’ This was ignorance or innocence, whatever you call it, that for some godly reason, it worked to my advantage.”
Your mother was an opera singer, what was the most important lesson you learned as an artist from her?

“Discipline and hard work talaga. And this is an honest truth, I know the weaknesses of my voice and coming into the industry, I knew that I wasn’t amazing. I wasn’t outstanding. In fact, I never got a solo (part) in glee club. I knew the limitation of my voice so I went to school and I studied in St. Scho under Florencia Nepomuceno. I took voice lessons with her for a year, with the Ryan Cayabyab Music Studio, with Louie Reyes, Annie of The CompanY and Tillie Moreno, and I just kept working hard.”

What have you become because of the pandemic?

“Stripped (laughs). Everybody’s stripped but I tell you, I have become more productive. I have been doing Joey Jams on my Facebook every Saturday for a year and a half now, just singing to my friends who are in lockdown in Manila or anywhere else in the world. I have my YouTube Channel (Dear Joey) where people can write me letters and then I’ll sing them a song. And then I did fundraisers here for my church, for cancer foundation, name it. Perhaps, all Fil-Canadians here know my reputation na, ‘O, may fundraising na naman si Joey,’ hahaha, pero napupuno because I know that the most successful concerts are the ones that you mount out of honest reasons. If you have honest intention, God really honors it.”

Let’s talk about your concert, let’s go to the first part of the title of the concert, Life Begins @ 40, how has life been?

“Life has been beautiful. I cannot complain about life. I have surpassed my own expectations of how I was going to transition into this kind of life here in Canada from being a big celebrity. It was difficult in the beginning but now that my children are grown, they have paths of their own and have really proven to be so good at what they do, they’re such women of substance without my help. Life here is simple and beautiful. I have my every need and it’s so nice to say that you can live with just enough.”

40 years in the industry, your learnings as an artist?

“Relationships, so valuable. I don’t think anybody will last long in anything even in a workplace without prioritizing the relationships and without valuing relationships.”

You have a direct line to your 18- year-old self, what would you tell her?

“I’d tell her, ‘You’re gonna be a better girl.’”

A direct line to St. Joseph, your favorite saint, what would you tell him?

“I’m already on the direct line with him. I’m already asking him, please, can you make my children get married and give me apo.”

You have a direct line to God, what would you tell Him?

“Thank you.”

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