(Source: Cartoon Stock)
A very long time ago, but long after vinyl, PolyGram Asia released the first record by Filipina Regine Vellasquez and cutely titled it “Listen Without Prejudice” despite knowing George Michael had released a record with the same title.
The reason for the title came from the exec who signed the artist up and was a message to radio DJs, music fans, retail etc to listen to the music without forming any misconceptions which had and still dogs artists from the Philippines- not the most commercial nationality to be in Hong Kong, especially when it comes to music. And this prejudice continues today.
The problem with this idea of trying to deflect or wipe out any prejudice for the Regine Velasquez record was that she was made to look “more fair” and with a Faye Wong hairstyle which hid her face.
In other words, those goons at PolyGram behind the marketing of the record were as prejudice as everyone else.
Hell to make her even MORE “acceptable” to Chinese music fans, she recorded a mawkish duet with leading Chinese singer Jacky Cheung who sang his part in some language that has yet to be totally understood.
Years later when at EMI, we tried to break an excellent singer named Bam and his band, er, Bamboo plus a young Rock act named Hale, both of whom who could sing in fluent English in this region- but this was a Big Fail.
The reason: Our local offices refused to market or promote the records as “Filipino acts are not popular.”
Seriously, Asia and us Asians must be the most prejudiced people around. We don’t like anyone.
We bitch and moan about the “gweilos” and then elevate mediocrity and open the doors and allow in junked up trumpet players with zero talent from the Hicksville of Canada who should either be busted or tarred and feathered and driven outta town.
(Source: Cartoon Stock)
Today I watch a band like Brown Sugar playing covers at a joint like Spicy Fingers in Wanchai, watch Dan, their guitarist and the incredible keyboard player who also plays amazing harp and KNOW they can easily fit into a top draw Rock band in the States. But how when having to make end meet playing the covers circuit?
Known as great copyists but lacking in originality- that’s the perception outside of the Philippines and why so many Filipinas are hired as hotel lounge singers and asked to replicate well-known hits- this is a perception Filipino musicians living and working outside of the Philippines need to prove, something Freddie Aguilar did decades ago with his composition called Anak.
There must be a new generation of Freddie Aguilars from the Philippines making that pilgrimage to show the world that Filipino musicians are not just background musical fodder before the main act, but original sounding main acts on their own. And this WILL happen!