MANILA, Philippines – Three contestants remain in the running to become the next lounge singer of The Peninsula Manila after the third and final elimination round on Tuesday night at the hotel’s posh Salon de Ning.
Rafael Gutierrez, Joselle Feliciano and Garrett Bolden Jr. will compete at the finale of the [email protected] contest on November 6 after they bested four other contestants during Tuesday's OPM jazz round.
Feliciano, a 21-year-old sophomore at the Ateneo de Manila University, drew loud applause from the audience for her version of Mon David’s “Let Go,” which was also highly praised by the three celebrity judges.
“Best jazz for tonight,” said bossa nova singer Sitti Navarro. “I was thinking to myself, if I owned a recording company, I would snatch you from this competition and sign you up to a recording contract and market you to the whole world because I think that voice can put the Philippines in the international map."
Theater actress Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo described Feliciano’s voice as “velvety.” “It has a very relaxing quality to it, which is very jazzy. There’s no effort. You’re just singing it and it’s going where it should go,” she said.
“I love the tone of your voice, it’s not the usual screaming, belting thing, which goes to show that you don’t have to have like a high chest register to be able to hit the high notes. It’s perfect,” added composer and composer Trina Belamide.
Feliciano will be up against two male contestants, who were also early favorites in the contest, which has a top prize of P100,000 and a three-month contract to perform at Salon de Ning.
Gutierrez, a 19-year-old junior at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, gambled with a song popularized by one of the judges – Navarro’s “Para Sa Akin” – and got the approval of the singer herself.
“Sige, I like you, este, I like the song,” Navarro joked. “Of all of you tonight, I think you were the one who really took Ms. Jacqui Magno’s advise na you get a song, and you completely transform it into an entirely different-sounding song. Your scatting was also the longest and it was very nice. I really liked it. Thank you.”
Belamide praised Gutierrez for being “comfortable” onstage. “Aside from that you’ve got a fantastic voice too. You’ve got the skill. You do the scatting. It was a wonderful arrangement of the song. And I agree with what Sitti said that you made the song your own. Good job,” she said.
Lauchengco-Yulo pronounced Gutierrez as Feliciano’s male counterpart. “You were having fun. I like the quality of your voice. It fits into the jazz mode. I remember now the word I wanted to say to Joselle, it’s a velvety-sounding voice. And you’ve got the same. The scats really sit well with your voice,” she said.
Bolden, a 20-year-old senior at Lyceum of Subic Bay, will enter the finals as the underdog, after he failed to impress Belamide with his jazz performance, a cover of Verni Varga’s “Being With You.”
“I don’t know if it was the arrangement or the song itself, it wasn’t jazzy for me,” said Belamide. “It really sounded like a pop song that was given a jazz feel. And even the way you would stylize, really I could see you more as a pop singer than a jazz singer. But that said, I could also see that you are a very skilled pop singer. Ang lakas ng dating mo. You have some X factor even during the opening number, ikaw ‘yung kapansin-pansin. So you have that going for you. “
“I think your voice is great and you’re very confident. And I noticed you in the beginning. You really stuck out because you’re so secure and confident,” Lauchengco-Yulo said, advising Bolden to sing more to the audience.
Navarro, however, said she liked Bolden’s performance. “For me, I saw a lot of soul in you. For me, it’s really good,” she said.