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Jake Zyrus

Jake Zyrus
Birth name Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco
Also known as
  • Charice Pempengco
  • Charice
Born (1992-05-10) May 10, 1992 (age 25)
Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • music producer
Years active 2005–present
Labels 143/Reprise, Warner Bros. Records, Star Music
Associated acts David Foster, Iyaz, Celine Dion, Aiza Seguerra
Website www.charicemusic.com

Jake Zyrus (born Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco; May 10, 1992), who performed under the mononym Charice until his gender transition to male,[1][2][3] is a Filipino singer who rose to popularity through YouTube.

Zyrus was dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as "the most talented girl in the world" (before his transition),[4] and released the international studio album Charice in 2010. This album entered the Billboard 200 at number eight, making it the first album of an Asian solo singer ever to land in the Top 10.[5]

The single "Pyramid", featuring singer Iyaz, is Zyrus's most successful single to date, charting within the Top 40 in a number of countries after its debut live performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Crossing over to acting on television, he joined the cast of TV series Glee as Sunshine Corazon.[6] Subsequently, "Before It Explodes", written by Bruno Mars, was released as the lead single from Zyrus's second international studio album, Infinity.

In March 2012, Zyrus signed on to be one of the four judges of the Philippine version of The X Factor, which began airing on ABS-CBN in June of that year.[7] In May 2015, Zyrus reunited with former mentor David Foster by performing a version of Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down" on Asia's Got Talent.[8] Zyrus announced in June 2017 that he has adopted his current name, discontinued the use of "Charice Pempengco" as his name, and disclosed that he had had both breasts removed and had begun testosterone treatment.[9]

Early life

Zyrus was born as Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco in Cabuyao, Laguna province, Philippines[10] and was raised by single mother Racquel. To help support the family, Zyrus began to enter singing contests at the age of seven, from town fiestas in various provinces to singing competitions on TV,[11] eventually competing in almost a hundred such contests.[12]

In 2005, Zyrus joined Little Big Star, a talent show in the Philippines loosely patterned after American Idol. Eliminated after the first performance, Zyrus was called back as a wildcard contender and eventually became one of the finalists. Although a consistent top scorer in the final rounds, Zyrus did not win the title in the finale, only placing third.[13]

Zyrus made some minor appearances on local television shows and commercials, but essentially fell off the radar after Little Big Star. Only in 2007 did Zyrus gain worldwide recognition after an avid supporter, FalseVoice, started posting a series of performances on YouTube. These videos received over 15 million hits, making Zyrus an internet sensation.[14]

Career

2007–08: Discovery and early work

In June 2007, producers at Ten Songs/Productions, a music publishing company in Sweden, invited Jake to a demo-recording seeing online videos. Zyrus recorded seven songs—six covers and an original song called "Amazing",[15] and was next invited to the South Korean talent show Star King on October 13, 2007, singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and a duet of "A Whole New World" with Kyuhyun from Super Junior.[16]

Having seen online videos, Ellen DeGeneres invited Zyrus to appear on her show. He flew to the United States for the first time and performed two songs on the December 19, 2007 episode: "I Will Always Love You" and "And I Am Telling You".[17][18][19] Following this American debut, Zyrus made a second appearance on Star King on December 28 as the "Most Requested Foreign Act", performing Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and singing a duet with Lena Park.[20] In January 2008, Zyrus was invited to Malacañan Palace to perform for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.[21]

Returning to the international scene, Zyrus next guested on the April 8 episode of The Paul O'Grady Show in London, England.[22] The Philippine debut album Charice was released in May 2008; this mini album, consisting of six songs and six backing tracks, was awarded gold certification in the Philippines in October 2008,[23] and reached platinum status in 2009.[24] Zyrus appeared on the May 12 edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show in the episode "World's Smartest Kids", where performing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing".[25] After the show, Oprah Winfrey contacted David Foster to see what the music producer could do for Pempengco.[12]

Jake performed with Foster for the first time as one of the entertainers on the May 17 opening of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.[26] This was followed by a debut on the international concert stage in Foster's May 23 tribute concert, Hitman: David Foster and Friends, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, performing a medley of songs from The Bodyguard as well as the standard, "And I Am Telling You".[11]

A CD/DVD of this concert, including Jake's The Bodyguard medley, was released on November 11, 2008. The show was aired several times on PBS and other public television networks starting in December 2008 under the Great Performances banner.[27] One of the singers at the concert was Pempengco's idol, Andrea Bocelli.[28] Bocelli subsequently expressed interest in performing a duet with Pempengco[29] with an invitation to be a guest on his birthday concert "The Cinema Tribute" held on July 20 at the Teatro del Silenzio in his hometown of Lajatico, Tuscany, Italy. Aside from the solo performance, Zyrus sang a duet of "The Prayer" with the famous tenor in front of more than 8,000 people.[12][30][31][32]

Zyrus was invited to perform for the Feyenoord's Centennial Anniversary in the Netherlands held on September 26 of the same year, singing the team's anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone" in front of a crowd of about 50,000 football (soccer) fans[33] In a guest appearance on the "Dreams Come True" episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 9, Oprah referred to Zyrus as "The Most Talented Girl in the World." After singing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" with David Foster on piano, Zyrus was surprised by Celine Dion's appearance via satellite, at Oprah's invitation, inviting Pempengco to sing a special duet at New York City's Madison Square Garden as part of Dion's Taking Chances Tour.[12][34] The promised duet took place on September 15, dedicating "Because You Loved Me" to Pempengco's mother. The performance received rave reviews in the New York Post and The New York Times,[35][36][37] and was eventually featured on the September 19 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.[38] Zyrus would then perform at the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children Benefit Concert at the Wynn Las Vegas casino resort.[39][40] In November, Pempengco and David Foster appeared on Good Morning America to promote Foster's tribute album, Hitman: David Foster and Friends, performing The Bodyguard medley and "I Will Survive".[41][42]

2009–10: First major performances

In January 2009, Zyrus performed at two US presidential pre-inaugural events in Washington, D.C., namely the Martin Luther King Jr "Realizing the Dream" gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and at the "Pearl Presidential Inaugural Gala" at the Mandarin Hotel.[43][44][45][46] February performances at two post-Oscar award events followed: Oscar Night at Mr. Chow's and Oprah's Oscar After Party, held in the Kodak Theatre.[47][48][49] Jake then debuted a new original song, "Fingerprint", composed by Robbie Nevil and produced by David Foster,[50] and then appeared in April in the season premiere of Ti lascio una canzone, an Italian musical variety show televised from Teatro Ariston in the city of Sanremo.[51] Zyrus performed "I Will Always Love You", "I Have Nothing", "The Prayer", and "Listen",[52] and went on to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in front of 57,000 baseball fans during the Los Angeles Dodgers 52nd season home opener at Dodger Stadium.[53][54]

In May, Zyrus released a second Philippine album, My Inspiration. The album consisted of 12 tracks, including "Always You" and a cover of Helen Reddy's "You and Me Against the World" performed as a duet with Pempengco's mother.[55] The album was certified gold in the Philippines within two months after release,[56] and then platinum in December 2009.[57] Also in May, Zyrus would again perform at a David Foster and Friends concert held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.[58] On the May 18 episode "Finale: Oprah's Search for the World's Most Talented Kids" of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jake debuted a first internationally released single, "Note to God", written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster. The single was made available for digital download on the same day and debuted at #24 on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart, #44 on the Billboard Hot 100, #9 on the Hot Canadian Digital Singles chart and #35 on the Canadian Hot 100.[59][60][61][62] Later that same month, Zyrus was again invited to sing at the Ti lascio una canzone show as a special guest.[63][64]

The first major concert for Zyrus was called Charice: The Journey Begins, presented to a sold-out crowd on June 27 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia in the Philippines.[56] Guests included Christian Bautista, Kuh Ledesma and Little Big Star finalists.[65][66] On June 28, 2009, in concert, Zyrus revealed a planned duet with legendary pop singer Michael Jackson, explaining that Jackson's lawyer said that Michael had chosen Zyrus to be his special guest on his tour. Michael had seen videos of Zyrus dancing to his songs and said right away, "I want this kid". When announcing this, Jake said "Yesterday morning, we were all shocked by the very sad news, the legendary pop singer Michael Jackson has gone away. Only two more weeks I was supposed to be with him on stage. We were going to perform Billie Jean." Zyrus contributed to two Christmas albums in 2009, first as David Archuleta's duet partner for the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on his Christmas album, Christmas from the Heart,[67] then contributing a rendition of "The Christmas Song" to the compilation album, A Very Special Christmas 7.[68][69] Zyrus was one of the headlining acts on the David Foster and Friends 10-city North American Tour that ran during the fall of 2009,[70][71] and made a cameo appearance in the feature film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, released in North America on December 23.[72] The official movie soundtrack includes Jake's rendition of "No One" by Alicia Keys, accompanied by The Chipettes.[73] Later in the month, Zyrus appeared on the grand finale of Singapore Idol as a guest, performing two signature songs, The Bodyguard medley and "Note to God".[74]

2010–12: Charice and Infinity

Zyrus performing at the Toronto Eaton Centre in 2010

On January 23, 2010, Zyrus appeared on Io Canto, a renowned singing competition in Italy, performing international standards and an Italian favorite called "Adagio" (made popular by Lara Fabian), in Italian.[75] On January 31 Zyrus was featured as one of the musical acts on the NBC Sports program Silk Soy Milk Skate for the Heart, raising awareness of heart disease.[76] Zyrus performed "Note to God" and debuted two new songs included in the debut album, "In This Song" and "Breathe Out" (later retitled as "Breathe You Out").[77] The album version and club remixes of a second single from the international debut album, "Pyramid" (featuring Iyaz), were released on February 23, 2010 and March 2, 2010,[78] while Reprise Records dropped the album itself on May 11, 2010.[79] On its first week, the album reached #8 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, making Jake the first Asian to enter the Top 10.[disputed ] On the same day the launch, he made another guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show along with Justin Bieber.[80] Pempengco's worldwide promotion of the album was the subject of a 12-part mini-documentary 30 Days with Charice, filmed by Alloy TV and published at Teen.com.[81] On June 22, Pempengco confirmed joining the cast of the hit US television series Glee for its second season.[82] Later the same week, Charice released a promotional single called "Crescent Moon" in Japan, an English rendition of the Japanese song "Mikazuki" by Ayaka.[83]

Zyrus in the dressing room at a show during the February 2011 solo tour.

During the inauguration of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on June 30, 2010, Zyrus sang the Philippine national anthem in front of a crowd estimated at more than half a million.[84] July's promotional tour for the album took Zyrus to Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea, including a third appearance on Star King.[16] On September 7 the premiere of Glee's second season was held in Hollywood with Zyrus in attendance. Jake's character Sunshine Corazon, an exchange student from the Philippines, presents lead character Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) with serious competition.[85] On November 30, Zyrus appeared on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center, performing two songs from the Christmas EP, "Grown-Up Christmas List" and "Jingle Bell Rock", with producer and mentor David Foster.[86] Zyrus also performed "The Prayer" with the Canadian Tenors and David Foster on the piano for a Christmas special on CBC Television. In December of that year, Zyrus became Operation Smile's official Smile Ambassador, joining such celebrities as Jessica Simpson, Billy Bush, and Zachary Levi in the organization's global efforts to provide free surgeries to children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.[87][88] On January 8, 2011, Zyrus was launched as the new endorser of Aficionado Germany Perfume; this event, at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds, titled [email protected], gathered an audience of 85,000. On February 13, 2011, Jake's music special Charice: Home for Valentine's was broadcast on the GMA 7 television network in the Philippines. From February 21 to 25, Zyrus embarked on a solo tour to Japan, performing in four shows held at three Zepp music halls, in Nagoya, Tokyo dates and Osaka.[89]

It was announced that Zyrus had begun to record new material for an upcoming second international album. The comeback single, "Before It Explodes", written by Bruno Mars, was released on April 18, 2011.[90] The day after its release, another single, "One Day" was released on iTunes,[91] co-written and co-produced with Nick Jonas.[92] "Louder", the third single, was released on May 20 bundled with another song, "Lost The Best Thing".[93] On September 14, 2011, it was revealed in a Japanese broadcast that Zyrus would be singing the theme song to the video game Final Fantasy XIII-2, "New World".[94] The second studio album, Infinity, was released exclusively in Japan on October 5, 2011.

On January 18, 2012, Zyrus launched a ten-city tour across Asia to promote the official release of the studio album, Infinity, due later in 2012; the tour began in March.[95]

2013–2014: Chapter 10 and Power of Two

On June 8, 2013, Zyrus revealed plans to release his third album in the Philippines entitled Chapter 10, containing covers of a few favorite modern songs, before heading back to Los Angeles to record more a new international album.[96] The album was released on September 6, 2013 through Star Records; the lead single was a cover of "Titanium".[97] On August 3, 2013, it was announced that on August 10 GMA Network's drama anthology series Magpakailanman would air an episode titled "The Charice Pempengco Story", in which Zyrus reenacted scenes based on real life.[98] A joint concert with Aiza Seguerra followed on September 28 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, dubbed the "Power of Two".[99]

On February 2, 2014, it was announced that Zyrus would sing "Right Where I Belong" for the direct-to-DVD movie The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale. In interviews, Zyrus reported almost losing the role after publicly coming out as lesbian in 2013.[100] Later in 2014, Zyrus appeared on the October 19 episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now?.[101][102]

Artistry

Influences

In 2010, Zyrus said that his mother, a former pop vocalist, served as a primary musical influence; He begged her for singing lessons beginning at the age of four. Growing up, the family listened to many types of music, especially artists such as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Destiny's Child. Zyrus has also expressed admiration for Lady Gaga and Beyoncé[103] for attitude, fashion, and vocal style, and stated a wish to work with both of them someday. Zyrus was also a fan of Michael Jackson,[104] and Justin Timberlake[105] and wished to work with Eminem, Dr. Dre, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo.[106] Zyrus performed "Earth Song" by Michael Jackson with Ne-Yo at the David Foster and Friends Special in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas in October 2010.[107]

Voice

Prior to his transition when he was still publicly known as Charice, Zyrus has received positive reception in regards to his voice. In an ABC News interview, David Foster mentioned Zyrus ability to mimic other people's voices, which, according to him, is a characteristic of good singers.[108] In a separate interview, Josh Groban stated that Zyrus's voice is one of the most beautiful he had heard in a long time.[109] Ryan Murphy, the executive music producer of the hit US television series Glee, said, "When that girl (sic) opens her mouth, angels fly out." Oprah's bookazine, Oprah's Farewell Celebration: Inside 25 Extraordinary Years of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show', mentioned Charice's "soaring soprano voice".[110]

Awards and recognition

Zyrus's star, bearing the name "Charice Pempengco", a name he was known as prior to his gender transition, in the Eastwood City Walk of Fame, the Philippine equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Discography

Studio albums

Extended plays

Filmography

Note: Prior to his appearance at Tonight with Boy Abunda in 2017, Zyrus' gender identity as a trans man was not known to the wider public. He was credited as his pre-transition name "Charice" prior to this television appearance.

Movies
Year Film Role Film production Notes
2009 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Himself 20th Century Fox Cameo as a talent show contestant in the film's story.
2010 Celine: Through the Eyes of the World Himself The Hot Ticket Documentary-concert film
2012 Here Comes the Boom Malia De La Cruz Sony Pictures
Television
Year Title Role Network Notes
2005 Little Big Star Himself/Contestant ABS-CBN 3rd Placer (Big Division)
2005–present ASAP Himself/Performer
2008 Maalaala Mo Kaya Himself Episode: "Ice Cream"
2010 May Bukas Pa Choir member Episode: "Final Chapter: Amen"
2010–2011 Glee Sunshine Corazon Fox Season 2
2011 Charice: Home for Valentine's Himself GMA Network GMA Network Valentine's special
TV5 Presents: Christmas with Charice TV5 TV5 Christmas special
2012 Charice: One for the Heart GMA Network GMA Network Valentine's special
Kapamilya, Deal or No Deal ABS-CBN Player (June 23, 2012)
The X Factor Philippines Judge Judge and mentor
2013 Celebrity Bluff Player GMA Network
Magpakailanman Himself Episode: "The Charice Pempengco Story"
The Voice of the Philippines Guest performer ABS-CBN
Kris TV Himself
The Mega and the Songwriter Guest performer TV5
2014 Oprah: Where Are They Now? Himself OWN
2015 Asia's Got Talent Guest performer AXN Asia
Sunday PinaSaya Himself/Guest Performer GMA Network
2016 Yan Ang Morning! Himself/Guest
2017 Tonight with Boy Abunda Himself/Guest ABS-CBN First post-transition TV Appearance under the name, Jake Zyrus
Maalaala Mo Kaya Himself ABS-CBN Portrayed his adult self in a biographical episode.[143]

Personal life

Raised in the Iglesia ni Cristo faith, Zyrus and younger brother Carl were baptized and confirmed into their mother's Roman Catholic faith on May 22, 2010, 12 days after Zyrus's 18th birthday, at the Pasig Cathedral in Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines. The more than 40 godparents included ABS-CBN network president Charo Santos-Concio, producer Laurenti Dyogi, The Buzz hosts Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino, segment host and radio personality Jobert Sucaldito, TV Patrol news anchors Karen Davila and Julius Babao, and Star Records head Annabelle Regalado-Borja. Philippine Daily Inquirer columnists Emmie Velarde and Pocholo Concepcion were also included. Oprah Winfrey and David Foster, two principal sponsors who played a major role in Zyrus's ascent to international stardom, were unable to attend and instead sent their own representatives to the ceremony.[144][145]

On October 2011, Zyrus' estranged father, 40-year-old construction worker Ricky Pempengco, was stabbed to death in the Philippines, forcing the cancellation of a concert in Singapore. Ricky had been at a small grocery store in San Pedro, Laguna, a city south of Metro Manila, when he brushed against a drunk man who became angry and stabbed him with an ice pick in the chest and back, according to the Laguna province police chief. Zyrus responded to the stabbing on Twitter: "I want to thank my fans from around the world for their support and love at this very difficult time for my family and I." "We are all very sad about this terrible tragedy" and "I loved him and I will still love him"; "He's still my Dad after all."[146]

Zyrus' exploration on his gender identity was a subject of public interest. On March 2012, Zyrus faced harsh criticism from the Internet and the media after changing hairstyle and fashion into a self-described "edgy and rock" look, responding: "I know some people think that this is very rebellious but it's not. It's just me evolving."[147] On April 16, 2013, questions were raised after pictures surfaced online of Zyrus in masculine dress.[148][149][150] In an interview, mother Raquel Pempengco said that she would respect her child's decision about her own identity.[151][152] On May 28, The Philippine Star newspaper ran a story about Zyrus's 21st birthday party which was described as a "coming out of sorts".[153] On June 2, 2013, Zyrus said that he identifies as a lesbian at that time during an interview with Boy Abunda at The Buzz in the Philippines, mentioning past relationships with other women in the industry.[154][155][156] Nine months later, in March 2014, Zyrus debuted a new "boyish" look with much shorter hair cut and more tattoos.[157] In a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Zyrus mentioned being attracted to girls since childhood and said "basically, my soul is male", but denied plans to pursue gender transition at that time.[158]

In April 2017, Jake Zyrus broke up with Alyssa Quijano, after four years of living together.[159] In June 2017, Zyrus announced the adopting of his current name and discontinued the use of Charice, a name he previously went by, on Twitter and Instagram.[1][2][160] Subsequently, Jake disclosed that he had undergone removal of both breasts in March, and had begun testosterone shots in April.[161] In an interview with Papermag, he said "I am always thankful for the life of Charice that I experienced and the music that I shared, but that obviously belongs to her, it's not for me. I'm letting her go and be free."[162]

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External links