Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco (born May 10, 1992), popularly known by the mononym Charice, is a Filipina singer who rose to popularity through YouTube. Dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as "the most talented girl in the world", she released her first international studio album Charice in 2010. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number eight, making Charice the first Asian solo singer in history to land in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Her single "Pyramid", featuring singer Iyaz, is her most successful single to date. It charted within the top 40 in a number of countries after its debut on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Charice sang live vocals. Crossing over to acting on television, she joined the cast of TV series Glee as Sunshine Corazon. She released "Before It Explodes", written by Bruno Mars, as the lead single from her second international studio album, Infinity.
In March 2012, she 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.
Charice was born in the province of Laguna, Philippines and was raised by her single mother, Racquel. To help support her family, she began to enter singing contests at age seven, from town fiestas in various provinces to singing competitions on TV. She is said to have competed in almost a hundred such contests.
In 2005 Charice joined Little Big Star, a talent show in the Philippines loosely patterned after American Idol. Eliminated after her first performance, she was called back as a wildcard contender and eventually became one of the finalists. Although she was a consistent top scorer in the final rounds, she did not win the title in the finale and only placed third.
Charice made minor appearances on local television shows and commercials, but essentially fell off the radar after her stint at Little Star. It was not until 2007 that she gained worldwide recognition after an avid supporter, FalseVoice, started posting a series of her performance videos on YouTube. These videos received over 15 million hits, making her an internet sensation.
In June 2007, Ten Songs/Productions, a music publishing company in Sweden, invited Charice to a demo-recording after producers saw her videos. She recorded seven songs--six covers and an original song called "Amazing". She was then invited to the South Korean talent show Star King on October 13, 2007, where she sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and a duet of "A Whole New World" with Kyuhyun from Super Junior.
Having seen her online, Ellen DeGeneres invited Charice on her show. Pempengco flew to the United States for the first time and performed two songs on the December 19, 2007 episode of the show: "I Will Always Love You" and "And I Am Telling You". Following her American debut on Ellen, she made a second appearance on Star King as the "Most Requested Foreign Act" of the show. On its December 28 edition, she performed Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and sang a duet with singer Lena Park. In January 2008, she was invited to Malacañan Palace where she performed for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
She returned to the international scene when she guested on the April 8 episode of The Paul O'Grady Show in London, England. Her Philippine debut album Charice was released in May 2008. The mini album, consisting of six songs and six backing tracks, was awarded gold certification in the Philippines in October 2008. The album eventually achieved platinum status in 2009. Pempengco appeared on the May 12 edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show in the episode "World's Smartest Kids", where she performed Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing". After the show, Oprah Winfrey contacted David Foster to see what the music producer could do for Pempengco.
She 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. She made her 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. She performed a medley of songs from The Bodyguard as well as her standard, "And I Am Telling You".
A CD/DVD of the concert, including Pempengco'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. One of the singers at the concert was Pempengco's idol, Andrea Bocelli. Bocelli subsequently expressed interest in performing a duet with her and personally invited her 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 her solo performance, she sang a duet of "The Prayer" with the famous tenor in front of more than 8,000 people.
She was invited to perform for the Feyenoord's Centennial Anniversary in the Netherlands held on September 26. Before a crowd of about 50,000 football (soccer) fans, she sang the team's anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone." When she guested on the "Dreams Come True" episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 9, Oprah referred to her as "The Most Talented Girl in the World." She sang Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" with David Foster on piano, after which Oprah surprised her with an appearance by Celine Dion via satellite, who invited her to sing a special duet at New York City's Madison Square Garden as part of Dion's Taking Chances Tour.
She performed her promised duet with Celine Dion on September 15. They sang "Because You Loved Me", dedicated to Pempengco's mother. The performance received rave reviews in the New York Post and The New York Times. The duet was eventually featured on the September 19 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She would then perform at the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children Benefit Concert at the Wynn Las Vegas casino resort. In November, she and David Foster appeared on Good Morning America to promote Foster's tribute album, Hitman: David Foster and Friends. She performed The Bodyguard medley and "I Will Survive".
2009-2010: First major performances:
In January 2009, Pempengco 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. In February she performed at two post-Oscar award events: Oscar Night at Mr. Chow's and Oprah's Oscar After Party held in Kodak Theatre. She debuted a new original song, "Fingerprint" composed by Robbie Nevil and produced by David Foster. In April, she appeared in the season premiere of Ti lascio una canzone, an Italian musical variety show televised from Teatro Ariston in the city of Sanremo. She performed "I Will Always Love You", "I Have Nothing", "The Prayer", and "Listen". Later that same month, she would go 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.
In May she released her 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 her mother. The album was certified gold in the Philippines within two months after release, and then platinum in December 2009. Also in May, she would again perform at a David Foster and Friends concert held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the May 18 episode "Finale: Oprah's Search for the World's Most Talented Kids" of The Oprah Winfrey Show, she debuted her 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. Later that same month, she was again invited to sing at the Ti lascio una canzone show as a special guest.
She staged her first major concert called Charice: The Journey Begins on June 27 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia, Philippines to a sold-out audience. Her guests included Christian Bautista, Kuh Ledesma and Little Big Star finalists. On June 28, 2009, during her concert, Charice let the news slip about her planned duet with the legendary pop singer Michael Jackson. She explained that Michael's lawyer approached her and said Michael chose her to be his special guest on his tour. Michael had seen videos of Charice dancing to his songs and said right away, "I want this kid". When announcing this news, Charice 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." Pempengco contributed to two Christmas albums in 2009; the first as David Archuleta's duet partner for the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on his Christmas album, Christmas from the Heart. The second is a compilation Christmas album, A Very Special Christmas Volume 7 to which she contributed her own rendition of "The Christmas Song". She was one of the headlining acts on the David Foster and Friends 10-city North American Tour that ran during the fall of 2009. She made a cameo appearance in her first feature film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, released in North America on December 23. She is also part of the official movie soundtrack with her rendition of "No One" by Alicia Keys, accompanied by The Chipettes. Later in the month, she appeared on the grand finale of Singapore Idol as a guest performer, where she performed two of her signature songs, The Bodyguard medley and "Note to God".
2010-2012: Charice and Infinity:
On January 23, 2010, she appeared on Io Canto, a renowned singing competition in Italy. She performed her standards plus an Italian favorite called "Adagio" (made popular by Lara Fabian), in Italian. On January 31 she was featured as one of the musical acts on the NBC Sports program Silk Soy Milk Skate for the Heart, a show designed to raise awareness of heart disease. She performed "Note to God" and debuted two new songs included in her debut album, "In This Song" and "Breathe Out" (later retitled as "Breathe You Out"). The album version and club remixes of her second single, "Pyramid" (featuring Iyaz), from her international debut album were released on February 23, 2010 and March 2, 2010. Her self-titled international debut album with Reprise Records was released on May 11, 2010. On its first week, the album reached #8 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, making her the first Asian to enter the Top 10. On the same day as part of her album launching, she again made a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show along with another YouTube-discovered singer Justin Bieber. Pempengco's world-wide promotion of her album was shown in a 12-part mini-documentary 30 Days with Charice, which was filmed by Alloy TV and published at Teen.com. On June 22, Pempengco herself confirmed that she will join the cast of the hit US television series Glee on its second season. Later in the week, she released a promotional single called "Crescent Moon" in Japan. The single is an English rendition of the Japanese song "Mikazuki" by Ayaka.
During the inauguration of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on June 30, 2010, Charice sang the Philippine national anthem in front of a crowd estimated at more than half a million. In July she embarked on an album promotional tour of Asia covering Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea. While in South Korea, she appeared on the show Star King for the third time. On September 7 the premiere of Glee's second season was held in Hollywood with Pempengco in attendance. Cast in a recurring role, she plays an exchange student from the Philippines named Sunshine Corazon who presents serious competition against lead character Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele). On November 30 she appeared on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center and performed two songs from her Christmas EP, "Grown-Up Christmas List" and "Jingle Bell Rock", with producer and mentor David Foster. She also performed "The Prayer" with the Canadian Tenors and David Foster on the piano for a Christmas special on CBC Television. In December she became Operation Smile's official Smile Ambassador. She joins other celebrity Smile Ambassadors such as Jessica Simpson, Billy Bush, and Zachary Levi in the organization's global efforts of providing free surgeries to children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. On January 8,2011, Charice was launched as the new endorser of Aficionado Germany Perfume in an event entitled 1@11 at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds that gathered an audience number of 85,000.On February 13, 2011, her very first television musical special Charice: Home for Valentine's was broadcast on Philippine television's GMA 7 network. From February 21 to February 25, she embarked on her very first solo tour performing in four shows held at three different Zepp music halls in Japan (Nagoya, two Tokyo dates, and Osaka).
It was announced that she began to record new material for her upcoming second international album. "Before It Explodes", her comeback single, written by Bruno Mars, was released on April 18, 2011. The following day after its release, another single, "One Day" was released on iTunes, which was co-written and co-produced by Nick Jonas. "Louder", the second single was released on May 20 which was bundled with another song, "Lost The Best Thing". On September 14, 2011, it was revealed in a Japanese broadcast that she will be singing the theme song to the video game Final Fantasy XIII-2, "New World". Her second studio album, Infinity, was released exclusively in Japan on October 5, 2011.
On January 18, 2012, she launched a ten-city tour across Asia in order to promote the official release of her studio album, Infinity, which is due later in 2012. The tour began in March.
2013-present: Chapter 10 and Power of Two:
On June 8, 2013, she revealed plans to release a third album in the Philippines entitled Chapter 10, containing covers of her favorite modern songs before heading back to Los Angeles to record more her new international album. The album was released on September 6 through Star Records. The lead single will be a cover of "Titanium". On August 3, it was announced that GMA Network's drama anthology series Magpakailanman would air an episode titled "The Charice Pempengco Story" on August 10; the episode was a reenactment of her life and she played as herself. She also had a joint concert with Aiza Seguerra, dubbed the "Power of Two", at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on September 28.
On February 2, 2014, it was announced that she would be singing "Right Where I Belong" for the direct-to-DVD movie The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale. Pempengco said that she almost lost her role in the project after she publicly came out in 2013.
Raised in the Iglesia ni Cristo faith, Charice and her younger brother Carl were baptized and confirmed into their mother's Roman Catholic faith on May 22, 2010, 12 days after Charice's 18th birthday, at the Pasig Cathedral in Pasig City, Philippines. Their more than 40 godparents were mostly from ABS-CBN. They included 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 Charice's ascent to international stardom, were unable to attend and instead sent their own representatives to the ceremony.
On October 2011, Charice's estranged father, 40-year-old construction worker Ricky Pempengco, was stabbed to death in her hometown in the Philippines, forcing her to pull out of a concert in Singapore. Ricky had been at a small grocery store in San Pedro, Laguna, a township 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. Charice expressed her sadness through her Twitter account about the death of her father by typing:
"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," she said in a statement. "We are all very sad about this terrible tragedy" and "I loved him and I will still love him," she wrote. "He's still my Dad after all."
On March 2012, Charice faced harsh criticism from the Internet and the media after she decided to change her style of hair and clothing into a look she described as "edgy and rock". She replied by saying: "I know some people think that this is very rebellious but it's not. It's just me evolving." On April 16, 2013, she was questioned about her sexuality after various pictures of herself posing in masculine attire surfaced online. In an interview, her mother, Raquel Pempengco, said that she would respect her daughter's decision about her own identity. On May 28, The Philippine Star newspaper ran a story about her 21st birthday party which was described as her "coming out of sorts".
On June 2, 2013, Charice confirmed that she is a lesbian during an interview with Boy Abunda at The Buzz in the Philippines. She also mentioned that she has had past relationships with other girls in the industry.
During 2013 Charice joined PETA's Free Mali campaign, Mali being the only captive elephant in the Philippines, kept at Manila Zoo alone, in a tiny enclosure and in need of proper care. Charice stated "I just can't imagine how it feels for Mali to be alone and not getting the attention that Mali deserves, and not only that, she's not getting some serious and important care that she actually really needs."
Charice has mentioned many times that she looks up to her mother Raquel, a former vocalist in a band, as her top musical influence; that she began begging for singing lessons at the age of four. Growing up she listened to many types of music but mostly Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Destiny's Child. Charice has also expressed admiration for Lady Gaga and Beyoncé for attitude, fashion, and vocal style. She has stated a wish to work with both of them someday. Mariah Carey,Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson,Celine Dion and Justin Timberlake are some other artists of whom Charice is a big fan. She has also mentioned that some artists she would love to work with one day besides Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, are Eminem, Dr. Dre, Chris Brown and NeYo. Charice has performed once with NeYo at the David Foster and Friends Special in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas back in October 2010. They performed "Earth Song" by Michael Jackson.
In an ABC News interview, David Foster mentioned that she has the ability to mimic other people's voices, which, according to him, is a characteristic of good singers. In a separate interview, Josh Groban stated that Charice's voice is one of the most beautiful voices he has heard in a long time. The New York Post once called her a vocal prodigy for being able to sing "big songs" at a tender age.Ryan Murphy, the executive music producer of the hit US television series Glee, said, "When that girl opens her mouth, angels fly out." Charice was featured in Oprah's bookazine, Oprah's Farewell Celebration: Inside 25 Extraordinary Years of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show', and is mentioned to have a "soaring soprano voice". Charice released a web series titled "30 Days with Charice" in early 2011 and in its third episode, "Charice on the Road: NYC", her manager Marc Johnston said of Charice: "Vocally, she's probably the greatest female pop singer in the world right now...what other great vocalists are out there that can do what she's doing?"
Awards and recognition:
3rd Place - Little Big Star Big Division, Season 1, 2005 Philippines,
Most Requested Foreign Act of 2007 - StarKing, South Korea,
Most Memorable Moment of 2007 - The Ellen DeGeneres Show, USA,
Pinoy World Class Talent - 20th Year Anniversary of the Music Museum, 2008, Philippines,
Key to the City of Rotterdam - Mayor Ivo Opstelten, 2008, the Netherlands,
Best New Female Recording Artist - Aliw Awards, 2008, Philippines,
First Standing Ovation on The Paul O'Grady Show - The Paul O'Grady Show 2008, England,
Best New Female Artist 2008 - ALIW Awards: Philippines,
Newsmaker of the Year 2008, 2009 and 2010 - Balitang America, USA,
People of the Year 2008 - People Asia Magazine, 2009, Philippines,
Plaque of Recognition - The Spirit of EDSA Foundation, 2009, Philippines,
Special Citation Award - MYX Music Awards 2009, Philippines,
National Newsmaker of the Year 2008 - Ateneo de Davao University TAO Awards, 2009, Philippines,
Outstanding Global Achievement - 40th Box Office Entertainment Awards (Guillermo Awards), 2009, Philippines,
Best Selling Album of the Year - 22nd Awit Awards, 2009, Philippines,
Best Musical Performance of 2009 - The Oprah Winfrey Show, USA,
Person of the Year for 2009 - Philnews.com, Philippines,
MDWK Magazine's Top Newsmakers of 2009 - Asian Journal's MDWK Magazine, Philippines,
Fun, Fearless Female Award - Cosmopolitan Magazine Philippines, 2010,
21 Under 21: Music's Hottest Minors (Number 4) - Billboard, 2010 USA,
Icon of Tomorrow - J-14 Magazine, 2010 USA,
BPInoy Award: Outstanding Filipino - Bank of the Philippine Islands, 2010 Philippines,
Best Inspirational or Religious Song (for "Always You") - 23rd Awit Awards, 2010, Philippines,
Number 4 in Yahoo!'s 2010 Most Irresistible Lyrics for "Pyramid" - Yahoo!, 2010,
Number 7 in Reader's Choice Favorite Album of 2010: Charice,
Best New Artist - J-Wave Tokio Hot 100 Awards 2011 (Japan),
Female Concert Performer of the Year - 42nd Box Office Entertainment Awards, 2011, Philippines,
Number 11 in US Weekly's Hottest Glee Guests List: February 2011 (USA),
Number 79 in Entertainment Weekly (USA, 2011),
2011 GMMSF Box-Office Entertainment Awards - Female Concert Performer of the Year,
BPinoy Award - Philippines,
Womanity Award Winner - Entertainment: Female Network's Womanity Awards,
Number 2 in Hottest Girl Chart: August 2011 issue of J-14 Magazine,
Coolest Female Singer Award: Yahoo! OMG Awards Philippines,
Best Major Concert (Female Category) - 24th Aliw Awards, 2011, Philippines,
Entertainer of the Year - 24th Aliw Awards, 2011, Philippines,
Favorite Asian Act - Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2012, USA