Okada bets on nostalgia as Gloria Gaynor, Kool & The Gang lead retro shows

Edwin P. Sallan

Posted at Aug 01 2019 05:37 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2019 04:26 PM

Original 'disco queen' Gloria Gaynor. Photo from the artist's website

MANILA -- American soul singer Gloria Gaynor, dubbed as the original Disco Queen during the 1970s, will lead several nostalgia acts that will perform at Okada Manila starting this August. 

Kicking off the series of retro shows at the integrated resort in Parañaque City is the Manila Sound Project concert headlined by Hagibis, VST and Company, the Boyfriends and Sampaguita on August 24 at Okada Manila’s Grand Ballroom. 

The four OPM hitmakers all scored a string of hits from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Sampaguita is dubbed the Queen of Pinoy Rock with hits like “Bonggahan” and “No Si Balasi,” while VST and the Boyfriends were identified with dance/disco hits like “Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko,” “Sumayaw, Sumunod,” although the two groups are also known for tender ballads like “Ipagpatawad Mo” at “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal.” 

Hagibis, the Philippines’ answer to the Village People, were also identified with rocker Mike Hanopol, who wrote and co-produced their biggest hits like “Katawan” and “Legs.”

Celebrate with Kool & The Gang. Photo from the artist's Facebook page

On September 21, it’s the turn of American hitmakers band Kool & The Gang and Deniece Williams to take centerstage at Okada Manila together with RJ Jacinto and his band. 

Formed in the mid-'60s, Kool & The Gang has been identified with related music genres R&B, soul, funk, jazz and disco. From 1973 to 1987, the group was a fixture on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with hits like “Jungle Boogie,” “Ladies Night,” “Too Hot,” “Get Down On It,” “Fresh,” “Cherish” and their No. 1 hit, “Celebration.” 

Deniece Williams started her career as backup vocalist for albums recorded by Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack and the late Minnie Ripperton during the early to mid-1970s. 

Williams became a household name in 1978 when her hit duet with silky-voiced balladeer Johnny Mathis, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” became a No. 1 US hit. In 1984, she scored another chart-topping smash with the bouncy dance hit, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” from the soundtrack of the hit movie, Footloose. 

Let's hear it for Deniece Williams. Photo from the artist's Facebook page

Taking solo spotlight on October 3 at the Grand Ballroom is Gloria Gaynor.

Born in New Jersey, Gaynor has been singing since the 1960s, originally with the jazz/R&B band Soul Satisfiers. Her mainstream breakthrough, however, began in 1975 when the non-stop disco album, "Never Can Say Goodbye," which included her dance remakes of Motown classics like the Four Tops’ “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” and the title track that was originally a hit for the Jackson 5. 

Gaynor, however, is best known for her 1979 iconic smash, “I Will Survive” which was a song about getting past a devastating breakup. To date, the song has sold over 14 million copies worldwide and is considered as one of the most covered disco classics with known versions by artists as diverse as Diana Ross, R.E.M., Jill Sobule, Cake and Chantay Savage. 

The singer’s last major hit was her dance version of the Broadway show tune, “I Am What I Am” from "La Cage Aux Folles." The song was particularly big with Filipino fans when it became a signature song of sorts for Maricel Soriano. 

Paul Simpson of the Wild Swans. Photo from the artist's website

Finally, on October 19, Cove Manila presents New Wave Festival II, a sequel to the successful concert last June, the concert will be headlined by Englishman Paul Simpson, formerly of the Wild Swans and local bands Skarlet Brown and Wency Cornejo of the Scarlet Boogie, the Edralins and Luna Band. 

Although best known for his association with the Wild Swans and their big hit, “Bringing Down The Ashes,” Simpson was also a founding member of The Care, another new wave group popular with Filipino fans as a result of hits like “Whatever Possessed You” and “My Boyish Days (Drink To Me).” 

Simpson was also one of the original members of the UK post-punk group The Teardrop Explodes which was fronted by the legendary Julian Cope and is best known for their hit, “Reward.”

In addition to the Grand Ballroom and Cove Manila, Okada Manila is also expanding its events venue portfolio with the introduction of an “at sea” venue via its 120-foot yacht and “air” travel through its private jet.