Search is on for PH’s best young lounge singer

By Karen Flores,

Posted at Jul 24 2012 06:26 PM | Updated as of Jul 25 2012 10:55 PM

[email protected]'s overall director Onyl Torres (right) with The Peninsula Manila general manager Sonja Vodusek (third from right) and some of the judges at the singing contest. Photo: Handout

MANILA, Philippines – College students ages 18 to 25 are invited to join a new singing competition that hopes to be a platform for promising lounge performers.

[email protected],” named after the popular Salon de Ning lounge, is the first singing contest of The Peninsula Manila. Sonja Vodusek, the hotel’s general manager, said [email protected] started out as an advocacy project.

”It has been in the making for 12 months,” Vodusek said during the launch of the competition last week. ”We want to support the musical arts, to promote young musical talent.”

At the helm of [email protected] is musical director, stage actor and vocal coach Onyl Torres, who hopes that the competition will help remove the stigma associated with singers and performers.

He wants to make sure that all contestants are in school to show the public that one can get a college degree and still be a great singer.

”I don’t want to be telling the contestants that education is not important, kumanta ka na lang. Ayoko rin bumaba ’yung tingin ng mga tao sa mga singers na kumakanta lang ’yan, di naman nakapagtapos,” said Torres, a Political Science graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Qualified contestants should sign up via [email protected]’s YouTube channel starting August 1. Those who will be selected after the video audition will undergo a series of live elimination rounds starting September 16.

The top three finalists will be selected by a set of judges and vocal coaches, which include actress Pinky Marquez, stage and television actor Floy Quintos, and vocal powerhouses Dulce, Bituin Escalante, Rachel Alejandro, Moi Ortiz, Sitti, Isay Alvarez, Robert Seña, Menchu Lauchengco and Audie Gemora, and host Tim Yap, among others.

They then will vie for the grand prize of P100,000 cash, scholarships to Spotlight Artists Centre and John Robert Powers, a weekend stay at The Pen, and a three-month singing contract with Salon de Ning.

”’Yung three months na ’yun, I would say it’s a learning experience for them,” he said.

Torres sat down with to share his views about the upcoming competition.

What attracted you to this project?

As long as it’s about discovering a new breed of young talents, I’m all for that. That’s one of my advocacies of sorts.

But I did set conditions. I said yes as long as the people we’re going to use will still be in school. We will not pull them out of school just to be part of this competition.

How is [email protected] different from other singing contests?

It’s not showbiz. But the judges are a mixture of showbiz and non-showbiz people. The judges are well-known in the music industry, others are directors, producers, songwriters and composers, people who know music.

It’s really for Salon de Ning. The thing is, we’re not even offering a record label, it’s just that they will perform here. But that will open windows of opportunity, because who are the people who come here? Well-known people.

Plus the fact that they have training. Usually, in other contests, there are only cash prizes, and a house and lot. Here, they have training, personal development. Those three months [of performing at Salon de Ning] I would say will be a learning experience for them.

What type of talent are you looking for in the competition?

We’re really looking for a lounge singer. We’re not looking for a biritista, whatsoever. It’s a lounge performer. There are a number of lounge performers who have made it big here. Like Sitti, she’s one of the judges here. She would know what it would take to be able to perform.

But we also want that person to be diverse when it comes to vocal production. So if you can do other genres and still do lounge singing, that would be great.

Not everyone can do lounge singing. You may be a good singer, but you cannot do lounge singing.

What makes lounge singing different?

Lounge singing is different from singing in Araneta Coliseum, in front of so many people. Here, you’ll see their reaction. Here, you’re up close. You have to be really able to get their attention. It’s challenging because it will make use of your creativity and artistry.

Why target only students in this competition?

I don’t want to be telling the contestants that education is not important, kumanta ka na lang. Ayoko rin bumaba ’yung tingin ng mga tao sa mga singers na kumakanta lang ’yan, di naman nakapagtapos. It’s a different take on that.

’Yung iba kasi sa mga showbiz competitions, ma-discover lang wala na ’yung degree, bye na. Ito, hindi. This is part of your personal development as a performer, as an artist.

How will the elimination round be like?

The elimination round will be a test of your musicality, that’s the hard part. You’ll only have piano as accompaniment. It’s just you, your music, how you interpret it. And particularly challenging is gagawin mong lounge ang kundiman. I think it has never been done.

Of course in the finals, reality na tayo. Ano nga ba ang music sa lounge? There is the saxophone, the guitar and percussions. Doon natin ilalabas talaga.

For more information about the competition, visit or