MANILA -- Filipino pride Jake Zyrus joined other global artists from America and Asia in the OPM album produced by Filipino-American musical director Troy Laureta.
Jake Zyrus recorded his version of the Visayan classic love song "Usahay," originally performed by OPM legend Pilita Corrales.
His track is part of Laureta’s album “Kaibigan: A Troy Laureta OPM Collective,” co-produced by ABS-CBN Music International.
In a digital conference on Wednesday, Zyrus said he wanted to do something "challenging and special" for Laureta's OPM album.
"What am I going to do? I am Filipino and I wanted to do something challenging yet special as well. Then we remember, probably a decade ago, I did this concert in Cebu and 30 minutes before the show Troy was like 'Kapatid, we should do a Visaya song.' And 30 minutes before the show I literally tries to learn it. So I had an idea what this song was. And we both looked at each other and we were like 'yeah, we have to do 'Usahay,'" Zyrus said.
"For me, it's challenging as well and I hope I did justice kasi may mga Cebuano and Davaoeños talagang music lover din ang mga 'yan. In fact, we have so many famous singers in the Philippines na mga Visaya. Kay Ma'am Pilita pa lang. Oh my God! Thinking that Ma'am Pilita is the original singer, that made me really nervous. This is such a classic iconic song," gushed Zyrus, who thanked Laureta for creating the most beautiful arrangement of "Usahay."
"It's really special to me too because it was his first time hearing my voice ever since I transitioned. So when I recorded it with him it was really special. So thank you, kapatid, I'm always grateful for you," Zyrus added.
For his part, Laureta praised Zyrus and his rendition.
"The work ethic and everything behind Jake Zyrus is just so, it's very inspiring because I've never met someone like that, was so dedicated with the craft. Even when learning Visaya, he wanted to get all the little tones and all the little emotions. When he started singing, it was the first time that I got to hear his voice after the transition and I just started crying," said Laureta, who has been working with Zyrus for nearly a decade.
"And to hear just how he has grown as an artist it was just so magical," Laureta added.
The music collection “Kaibigan: A Troy Laureta OPM Collective” kicks off with a short intro of "Harana" followed by eight Filipino tracks featuring global artists like AILEE, Cheesa, Matt Bloyd, Nicole Scherzinger, Pia Toscano, Sheléa and Regine Velasquez.
South Korean artist AILEE interpreted Martin Nievera’s “Kahit Isang Saglit.” YouTube star Matt Bloyd from Los Angeles performed his rendition of Jay-R’s “Bakit Pa Ba.”
America’s “The Voice” season 2 quarterfinalist Cheesa rendered the Jessa Zaragoza original “Bakit Pa.”
Laureta also tapped former Pussycat Dolls member Nicole Scherzinger to do a version of Velasquez’s original song “Pangako.”
For the song “Kailangan Kita” written by Ogie Alcasid, Laureta chose “American Idol” season 10 finalist Pia Toscano to do the interpretation.
Laureta also included “Patuloy Ang Pangarap,” composed by Jonathan Manalo and first recorded by Angeline Quinto. He tapped the American singer, songwriter, and pianist Sheléa to record the song.
Laureta concludes the album with a track dedicated to his grandfather, a special rendition of “Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan” by Velasquez.
For Laureta, the album is his way of expressing his love for Filipino music and his roots.
"This project is something that has been a dream of mine for so long. I'm so passionate about music. Filipino music has been such a huge part of my life. I owe a lot to it. I respect it, I admire it, I embody it. When anybody, when any artist says like, 'oh you played that so well' or you do something, it's because of Filipino music," he said.
Born to Filipino parents, Laureta grew up in Hawaii and later moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue his music career. He has an eclectic taste in music, enjoying pop, R&B, and ballad music, as well as reggae, punk, and metal.
Laureta’s “Kaibigan” album is out now on digital platforms worldwide. Its lyric videos are now on Star Music’s YouTube channel.