x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Charice: a down-to-earth singer

As she steps on stage at Dubai's Festival Park tomorrow, the Filipino pop sensation Charice says she remains dumbfounded at her global appeal.

Charice will perform in Dubai on Friday. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP
Charice will perform in Dubai on Friday. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP

The Filipina pop star Charice may have youth on her side, but the 19-year-old isn't wasting any time.

Since being discovered in 2007, the singer has played stadiums in the US and Asia, duetted with her musical heroes and sneaked a few episodes worth of acting work on the hit television series Glee.

However, she is taking it all in her stride. Charice remains dumbfounded at her appeal in both the US and Asia.

"I will let the fans answer this question," she offers. "That being said, they embrace me and now I'm grateful for the amazing reception and the great welcome I had."

No doubt Charice will receive a similar reaction when stepping on stage at Dubai's Festival Park tomorrow.

Promising a "fun and exciting concert with lots of up-tempo songs", Charice is promoting her latest release Infinity.

The album is her second international release and as a result, the songs are more in line with current pop trends. The almost operatic tone beguiling early listeners in 2007 has been streamlined.

Her signature lush ballads also made way for a slick pop and R&B sound courtesy of songwriting contributions by the Grammy Award-winner Bruno Mars and Nick Jonas.

Charice denies the new musical direction was merely a way to capitalise on the fame generated by her Glee appearance.

"I did enjoy the transition," she says. "It's important to explore as an artist. I always loved pop and R&B and wanted to sing and record songs in that genre."

Charice says her love for singing stems back to her childhood in the Philippines.

"When I was a very young girl, my mother caught me singing on the kitchen table," she recalls. "Well from that point I never stopped singing."

It was the US comedian Ellen DeGeneres who first spotted Charice during her 2007 television appearance in a South Korean talent quest and flew her over to perform as part of her hit talk-show.

Offers from Oprah and others followed, as well as invitations to duet alongside her "idols" Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, the latter being "a nerve wracking" performance in Madison Square Garden.

But it was her role as the exchange student Sunshine Corazon in Glee's second season that was responsible for her rise to teenage pop star.

Charice admits her Glee role was not much of a dramatic stretch. "Yes, [Sunshine] is very much like me," she says. "Our lives are similar in many ways and it was easy to connect to the character ... I relate to her a lot."

Maintaining her close ties to loved ones is important to Charice, she says it helps ground her during the current heady days.

"I keep my good friends and family close and that's the main reason," she says. "They remind me of the simple, great things in life."

Which is just as well as her hectic schedule does not let up.

Charice's Dubai stop is part of a seven-city Asian tour including Japan and Singapore, as well as two home-town performances at the legendary Araneta Coliseum (home to the epic Thrilla in Manilla boxing bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazer).

She is also set to make her feature film debut later in the year with the comedy Here Comes the Boom, alongside Kevin James and Salma Hayek.

Charice is confident of the film's success.

"It is incredible," she says. "You have to see it."

Charice is performing on Friday at Festival Park at Dubai Festival City at 7pm. Tickets start at Dh95 from www.timeouttickets.com