Very pleased to see a short essay of mine in ROGUE Magazine’s music issue this March. I profile one of my respondents and make a case for overseas Filipino musicians to be heard and included in the country’s huge and diverse music world.
Here’s an excerpt. The whole issue (which is excellent) is out now in most bookshops here in the Philippines, and on ROGUE’s online shop.
He may be one of the greatest Filipino singers you’ve never heard of. Reuben Laurente’s pedigree is impeccable: former member of legendary vocal ensemble The CompanY; versatile solo artist with five gospel and pop albums to his name; and numerous industry accolades recognising his talents as live performer (ALIW Awards), composer (AWIT Awards), and album producer (the CMMA). His voice, nimbly shifting from soaring tenor to burnished baritone, runs the gamut of the pop music spectrum from intimate ballads to horn-blaring showstoppers.
It’s a virtuosity he’s put to good use in his work for Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Cruises, entertaining guests in Broadway-style musical theatre revues with a cast of elite performers; and as a solo headliner act of Don Casino Productions, a U.S.-based production house specialising in Vegas-style live music shows. Currently he is one of four Filipinos in Royal Caribbean’s international roster of featured singers. In between contracts and regular rehearsals in Miami, he maintains a busy recording and performing schedule in Manila: his most recent performance last month saw him briefly reunited with The CompanY for a major Valentine’s Day concert at the PICC with another iconic pop-vocal group, The New Minstrels.
That Laurente should still sing with the fresh-faced ardour of a performer 30 years his junior not only underscores his inherited talent, borne of a childhood serenaded by a kundiman-loving mother and a father who played in a combo with his friends. This is not so unusual in a country where belting one’s heart out is an intergenerational means of comradeship, competition, and consolation. What sets his voice apart is the remarkable story behind it: a story of the migrant Filipino artist at the juncture of two precarious industries, with two contradictory orientations. The first is a globally minded outlook that seeks opportunity and security in working abroad as a music entertainer. The second is a homeward longing for the elusive recognition by the audience that is hardest to please—the one closest to one’s heart.