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Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Bev has been Delving into the Depths of a couple of Divine Divas, some younger than others!

Researching the young Filipino girl named Charice Pempengco who appeared on our TV screens in July, I discovered that Oprah heard of her singing talents through music impresario, David Foster, who has referred to Charice as A Diva in the Making! On the show (which featured several other amazingly talented young children, exhibiting many other art forms) this talented 15-year-old performed the Whitney Houston classic, I Have Nothing with remarkably passionate maturity! I especially liked the cheeky glimmer in her eye when she looked directly at Oprah – seated as always in the very front of the audience - as she sang the phrase I have nothing – NOTHING! – without YOU! As the audience gave her a well-deserved standing ovation, she weepingly confided that it had been a dream of hers for ages to appear on Oprah – and as Oprah gently mopped Charice’s tears she commented, You certainly brought your full game with you today, girl, and after a 15-hour flight too!

Well, I for one will be watching for more news of this promising youngster, for David Foster (who discovered Josh Groban, among others) is never wrong! Indeed, yet another of his finds popped up on Dr Phil during September, a youthful, humble, philanthropic and exceptionally talented pianist by the name of William Joseph, and I’m hoping to source his album Beyond for my instrumental collection.

I made mention several weeks back of some Sarah Brightman CDs I’ve purchased recently – among them an eclectic mix on an oceanically-themed album appropriately titled Dive, which includes the delightful Captain Nemo. Even better is her album La Luna, which takes pride of place as the final track, and rather cleverly segues into Moon River - a fact that’s not mentioned in the sleeve notes and comes as a rather pleasant surprise in this unusual arrangement! Track 4 (Figlio Perduto) is a clever adaptation taken from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and contrasts beautifully with the version titled Land of Freedom or Terra e Liberta which I have in my collection by Amici Forever, whose contemporary adaptation turns the simple melody into a powerful anthem to liberty.

My most recent purchase featuring The Serene Sarah (whose surname seems so suitable, as clarity is one of the most prominent features of her voice!) is Symphony”, a CD she came out to SA to promote in May this year – and what a superb recording this one is, featuring as it does several really terrific duets. One with Andrea Bocelli, another with Paul Stanley, one with Fernando Lima (with whom she seems to duet quite a bit, and someone I’d like to research a little more) and, lastly, Alessandro Safina who possesses a fine voice, though not one I can listen to for an entire hour.

Well, it seems reality shows are springing up left, right and centre on television worldwide, of many differing varieties, but a great number are now being devoted to discovering musical talent, and it was fascinating to see and hear renowned Simon Cowell (and I have to admit I have something of a soft spot for this gent!) talking on Oprah some weeks ago about his new find, Leona Lewis, who he seems certain will achieve just as much success as – if not more than – the likes of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion!

Indeed, we’ve also had The Clash of the Choirs on our local screens (Sunday afternoons on M-Net) where teams were competing for the charity of their choice in their home town, and the fun here was that each team leader is a renowned musician (Nick Lachey, Patti laBelle, Michael Bolton, Kelly Rowland and country singer Blake Shelton). Once the eliminations were over, the chosen few got to prove themselves before a TV audience, showing just how well they’d improved with training. It was occasionally quite astonishing to hear the results of what can be done with a pop song when it’s performed chorally!

The musical choices were wide-ranging: prominently gospel numbers; also soul, blues, country, and even Christmas favourites. But for me the most impressive piece performed was Team Lachey’s rendering of The Flight of the Bumblebee where Nick dispensed with the services of the orchestra after their first few bars. Divided into several groups of males and females, his choir then performed a capella, entertaining hugely with a simply astounding musical bumbling effect by muttering what sounded like Never, Never, Never in really fast-paced harmonies to the well-known tune, in an effort requiring perfect timing from all the performers, who received a well-deserved standing ovation for this highly original offering.

In the final, screened on October 12, I was almost certain Team laBelle would take the quarter million dollars back to Philadelphia but, no, Nick Lachey’s intensely concentrated prayers (judging by the look on his face as the ubiquitous phrase The envelope, please was spoken) paid off, and Team Lachey, representing Cincinnati, were ecstatic to be declared the winners. His choir certainly gave their all and, about halfway through the competition, the handsome ex boy-band singer (and ex hubby of singer/actress Jessica Simpson) announced he’d be using this fabulous team of singers as back-up on his next solo album! I can’t wait to hear ‘em!

Pieter Toerien’s search to find his male and female leads for the SA version of High School Musical also made for fairly entertaining television viewing (once some of the repetitive elements of the elimination rounds were dispensed with!) and I was in total agreement with the voting that came in from the public at the end of September. Good luck to the winning couple. There was some very close competition in the contest, proving that South Africa does indeed have talent!

I just wish I could persuade Mr Toerien, when he’s next seeking out an internatinal artist to bring out to perform in our wonderful country, to select My Magnificent Mario - and don’t think I haven’t suggested it already! In fact, I sent him a detailed bio on Mr Frangoulis with that very idea in mind after hearing Pieter on a talk-show on radio about two years ago. No results – yet! – but I shall not give up on this quest!

More anon! - Bev Pulé. October 2008