Behind the Music: 'Tell Me' by Joey Albert

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Jul 10 2021 02:40 PM

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When Joey Albert recorded Louie Ocampo and Alan Ayque’s “Tell Me” in 1984, the success of the song didn’t sink in right away to her. It was only her second single under OctoArts International after “Over and Over,” penned by Gerry Paraiso and released that same year.

“To be honest, I didn’t really grasp the full impact of ‘Tell Me’ at that time,” Albert told ABS-CBN News.

Not even after she won Best New Artist and Best Female Artist in 1985 at the Cecil Awards, one year after she started her solo career, Albert was still clueless about her recording success.

“But four decades later, I am in awe of how my song continues to touch the hearts of people of all generations,” she granted.
“Tell Me” became an instant hit nationwide. It was a much-requested and popular song on the radio and even in all of Albert’s performances then and now. 

“Tell Me” received a gold record award and made Albert the first local artist to record on CD. The song became one of the well-loved and best-selling ballads released back in 1984.

“The true measure of a song’s success is generally its longevity,” Albert maintained. “People don’t only remember the song. It was the soundtrack of their lives. It bookmarked a time in their lives which they still feel after 40 years.”

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Through the years, “Tell Me” had other versions by other local and even international artists. Side A Band had their re-imagined cut, as well as David Pomeranz and “American Idol” runner-up David Archuleta. Even Gretchen Barretto had her version and Mexican singer-actress Thalia.

“When big stars, both local and international, do remakes of your song, well, there’s definitely something to be said about it,” Albert quipped. “It’s very fulfilling, especially when they do remember to acknowledge me as the original singer. It’s really nice when they do.”

For more than two decades now, Albert has been based in Vancouver, Canada, where she lives with husband Vicente “Ting” Pacis III and two children.
Albert recorded many other popular songs through the years. Among the ones she collaborated with Ocampo and became popular, she particularly singled out the intense love ballad, “Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin.”

“Of course, as it has a very personal meaning to me,” she said. “Of the ones that weren’t released as a single, there’s a song called ‘Sana’y Malaman Na Niya’ that I wrote together with him. I always write the lyrics and he the music. That’s a personal favorite. You’ll see why when you hear it.

“Among the songs that I did not record with Louie, my personal favorite is ‘A Million Miles Away’ by Robert More. Something about that song makes you float on air.”

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But “Tell Me” has undoubtedly become a sentimental favorite by many.

“There aren’t many songs people screech to by the first two chords,” Albert laughed. “So enough said, what more can I say?”

Working on the lyrics for “Tell Me” wasn’t readily a breeze for Ocampo and Ayque. “I thought it was funny when Alan Ayque told me he couldn’t find words to the beginning of the song at first,” recalled Albert. “It was only when Louie played the melody of the chorus when the words came to Alan.

“So the song actually started with a chorus. Then the rest came to him. Maybe it was the San Mig Light they were having while they were working on ‘Tell Me.’” 

Ayque penned another song for Albert, “Back In My Arms,” with Tony Perez. He also wrote Marco Sison’s popular Tagalog ditty, “Si Aida o si Lorna o si Fe,” with Ocampo.

In 2007, Albert released a re-imagined version of “Tell Me” that was used as the theme for the Star Cinema romance-drama, “A Love Story,” starring Maricel Soriano, Aga Muhlach and Angelica Panganiban, directed by Maryo J. de los Reyes. That introduced the song and its original singer to a new generation of Filipinos.

“I felt that I achieved another first,” Albert beamed. “An unprecedented case of an artist doing a remake of her own song.

“Come to think of it. Having five original hit songs used as movie themes is pretty unprecedented, too. How lucky can anyone get?”

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Aside from “Tell Me” and “Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin,” Albert recorded other songs that were used as movie themes like “Iisa Pa Lamang” (1992) for the film of the same title megged by Jose Javier Reyes, Laurice Guillen’s “Sa ‘Yo Lamang” (2010) and “Without You” for Ruel S. Bayani’s “One More Try” (2012).

On July 11, Albert will stage “Life Begins @40,” a concert to mark her four decades in the music business. That is truly an enviable feat for any artist.

“Life Begins @40’ finds a unique and refreshing way to revisit 40 years and present my hit songs over those years,” Albert said. “There were a hundred things people thought I should do in this digital concert. But we’re keeping it organic and honest. I always believed in an honest performance.”

Musical director for the show is Archie Castillo, with a couple of tracks to be accompanied by Gino Cruz. George Ontal plays the piano in one of the songs.

After four decades in the entertainment business, Albert has done concerts in the Philippines and other countries. She has charted hit records, scored TV shows and films. Admirably, she is not wasting any time amid this pandemic, as she is always raring to record her next accomplishment.

“Why wait till after the pandemic?,” she boldly asked. “I embraced the pandemic as an opportunity to create music with a purpose. Every bad situation is an opportunity to make something good.”

“Joeysjams” is a Saturday night ritual where Albert sings for her Facebook friends who are on lockdown. “I’ve been doing it for more than a year now,” she said. “Singing songs that bring back good memories, so people can forget the bad ones.”

“Fundraisers have always been a passion for me. ‘Bayanihan Musikahan’ taught me the ropes. Since then, I have done four major Facebook fundraisers raising over P1.5 million for worthy causes.”

Dear Joey, finally, is Albert’s YouTube channel where people can write her and share their stories. In turn, she can sing them a song.

“As for the pandemic, aaahhhh, that’s when life after 40 begins… Abangan!” Albert concluded.

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