Charice earns rave reviews from NYTimes, NY Post

Posted at 09/18/08 1:46 PM

DREAM COME TRUE. Filipina singer Charice Pempengco in duet with idol superstar Celine Dion at Madison Square Garden on September 15.

Is Charice's star ever going to dim? By the looks of it, not anytime soon.

Fresh from the success of her performance in the concert of international pop star Celine Dion at Madison Square Garden, sixteen-year-old Charice continues to gain more fans after two major newspapers, the New York Times and the New York Post, heaped praises on her performance last September 15. (Watch a video clip of that duet here.)

In an article published September 16, reviewer Jon Caramanica of The New York Times described Charice's voice as "impressive" and praised the young diva for giving a rougher, more emotional edge to her performance of Dion's hit song "Because You Loved Me."

"They performed 'Because You Loved Me', though Ms. Dion mostly stayed out of the way as Ms. Pempengco explored the song’s heretofore unheard rougher edges, with ample gesticulations and melisma.

"As Ms. Pempengco brought the crowd to its feet, Ms. Dion struck poses behind her: awestruck wonder, heartfelt empathy, ambient triumph," the New York Times review read.

A separate review written by Dan Aquilante of the New York Post described Charice's performance as the brightest moment of the Celine Dion concert.

"One of the most interesting turns in this show was the MSG debut of 16-year-old vocal prodigy Charice Pempengco, whose manager, Oprah Winfrey - that's right - secured the Philippine singer a duet with Celine for the song 'Because You Loved Me.'

"The Charice segment was the night's brightest moment. The teen was able to blast notes with Celine-like power, but she was also able to get in touch with the song's emotions," the review read.

Online videos of Charice's performance at the Dion concert showed people giving a standing ovation to the young Filipina after the duet.

Before they performed, Dion introduced Charice to the audience as a Filipina whose voice "can literally blow the roof off Madison Square."

"Charice vowed to save her mom from a life of desperation and despair. You know, through prayers and dreams and God-given talent, an incredible voice, Charice entered and won every singing contest in her native country and eventually, was noticed by such influential people such as Oprah and Oprah took her under her wings and David Foster joined in," Dion said.

She said she invited Charice as a guest to her concert after seeing the girl perform on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

After inviting Charice to the stage, Dion praised the vocal prodigy and asked if she was nervous. When Charice answered yes, Dion said she always remembered to take the advice given by her manager and future husband, Rene Angelil, when she first started singing at the age of 12.

"He told me 'Celine, I know you're nervous. Don't be scared. You love to sing. When you go up there, you'll be nervous. Don't be.' I will give you an image that you can think about. Think that all the people you see in front of you are your brothers and sisters. You are singing in your living room and it's your family," Dion told Charice.

Charice then said that she was ready to sing and dedicated their song to her mother, Raquel.

Ever the gracious performer, Dion let Charice take the lead in the song - allowing the young singer to show off her vocal prowess that brought the house down.

"You did amazing, and the roof of the Madison (blew) up tonight," Dion said after the performance, adding that she could not wait until Charice had her own concert in Madison Square Garden.

"When you do perform in Madison Square, are you going to invite me? I love you and I can not wait to be with you to perform here for a whole concert," she added before Charice left the stage to more applause.
'The Most Talented Girl in the World'

Charice's whirlwind rise to popularity started after YouTube videos of her jaw-dropping performances caught the attention of popular US TV host Ellen Degeneres. Her performance at the "Ellen Degeneres Show" later led to appearances in the Oprah Winfrey show as well as performances with international stars Michael Buble and Josh Groban.

Charice also performed with renowed tenor Andrea Bocelli in his hometown in Italy.

In the episode titled "Dream Comes True", Oprah tracked the rags-to-riches story of Charice starting with how she once witnessed how her father almost killed her mother in a fit of rage before neighbors stopped him.

Charice said it was then that she and her mom decided to live their own lives away from their father. Charice's mom worked 16-hour days, six days a week to make ends meet while Charice signed up for more than 80 contests to help her mother.

"I really want[ed] to help Mom," she told Oprah. "When I'm joining singing contests, and I won some $50, she was, like, 'Okay, we're going to have some food for one month, and we're very happy.'"

She was later able to save enough of her contest winnings to help her mother pay for an apartment. In 2005, she joined the ABS-CBN talent contest "Little Big Star" where she placed 2nd runner-up to contest winner Sam Concepcion.

The series of YouTube videos posted by an avid fan later led to Charice performing at Star King, a famous talent show in South Korea, on October 2007.

But it was Charice's performance in the Oprah Winfrey Show last May that cemented her claim to fame. After hearing Charice sing, Oprah said she couldn't get the little girl with the big voice out of her head and invited her back to the show.

Instead of flying back to the Philippines after her appearance on The Oprah Show, producers pulled Charice off the plane and brought her back to Harpo Studios. Then, Oprah called legendary producer David Foster to see what the starmaker could do for Charice.

Oprah, who once called Charice "The Most Talented Girl in the World", says she is impressed not just with Charice's voice but with her attitude in life.

"One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she's faced in her life, she's never given up on her dream of something better," Oprah said.