Melanie Hernandez Alvarez (née Calumpad; born 5 January 1981), better known by her stage name Kyla, is a critically acclaimed Filipino R&B singer-songwriter as well as a record producer and occasional actress and presenter.
Known as "The Philippines' R&B and Soul Princess", Kyla is one of the most awarded singers in the Philippines. Her hit music video "Hanggang Ngayon" won Kyla the MTV Viewers' Choice at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, making her the only Filipina and one of only three Filipino artists (Eraserheads and Parokya ni Edgar being the other two) to ever win an award at the MTV Video Music Awards. She has collaborated with many international artists such as American R&B singer-songwriters Brian McKnight and Keith Martin, British boy-band Blue, Irish musician Ronan Keating, Norwegian band Fra Lippo Lippi, Indonesian R&B singer, Joeniar Arief, and Malaysian artists Too Phat, Noryn Aziz, Ferhad, and Hazami RX 93.1 Awards also recognized her as the "OPM Female Artist Of The Decade".
Kyla Alvarez began her career in 2000 with OctoArts EMI Philippines. She rose to prominence with the release of her second single "Hannggang Ngayon". The song went on to win at MTV Video Music Awards. She has released a total of eight albums to date, all of which were certified Platinum albums. Kyla is currently managed by EMI Philippines (PolyEast Records), ALV Talent Circuit, and Tarra Group (Indonesia).
Her work has earned her several achievements, including a star on the Walk of Fame in the Philippines, one MTV Video Music Award, four MTV Philippines Music Award, four MYX Music Awards and eleven Awit Awards where she holds the record for the most wins for a female artist. She has also been honored by the Philippines Society of Composers, Singers and Publishers for her contributions to music as one of the first pioneers of R&B music in the Philippines.
Early life and discovery:
Born on January 5, 1981, she was named Melanie Hernandez Calumpad in Tondo, Manila. Weaned on her parent's old school soul and jazz records--Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Aretha Franklin-- Melanie soon developed an affinity to singing, hugging the mic every single chance she gets. By her 10th birthday, Melanie was already joining over prestigious TV singing contests. "Tanghalan ng Kampeon" was her first singing contest but on DZRH "Hamon sa Kampeon" was her first win in 1991. She was lording "Tanghalan ng Kampeon" for six straight weeks, and with her powerful interpretation of Jennifer Holiday's "I Am Changing," became the show's grand champion in 1993.
Veteran director Al Quinn saw her potential, encouraging her to join the immensely popular Wednesday group of That's Entertainment, an afternoon variety show on GMA Network using her real name, Melanie, as her screen name.
Melanie represented the country in the Fourth Yamaha Music Quest on August 1995 in Japan, where she interpreted the Vehnee Saturno original, "Only World".
In 1997, she brought home the third prize trophy in the Metropop Young Singers' Competition (later renamed Metropop Star Search). Soon GMA's Infiniti Records offered Melanie, along with fellow Metropop Star Search winners Carmela Cunta and Jonard Yanzon, to wax a couple of songs for a compilation album entitled "Kung Umiibig Na". She recorded two solo tracks: "I Wish You Love"" and the folksy love song, "Kung Magkikita Tayo Muli", which would later re-emerge as a Vina Morales signature hit, "Muli".
Armed with a Raymund Ryan composition, "One More Try", Melanie once again joined the Metropop Song Festival in 2000. The song failed to make it in the Top 12. It did, however, make it to EMI's A/R Manager Francis Guevarra's consciousness. Guevarra immediately signed her to a recording deal with EMI Philippines on April 2000 and was given the stage name "Kyla" meaning princess.
She graduated high school at San Sebastian College - Recoletos and earned her Bachelor degree of BS Mass Communication in Philippine Christian University.
2000-2003: Debut and early international activity:
Kyla made her big debut in 2000 with Way To Your Heart with its hit carrier single, "Bring It On." The album brought out the realization that yes, the country's first honest-to-goodness R&B has arrived. Comparisons to R&B super stars Brandy and Aaliyah began to surface.
It was her second single, the piano-driven ballad "Hanggang Ngayon"" that turned out to be Kyla's breakthrough hit, topping a host of FM radio charts. The song's music video, which was directed by Lyle Sacris, further boosted the song's popularity. The video won for Kyla two big honors trophies at the 2001 MTV Pilipinas Awards: Best New Artist and Video of the year. Her video even went on to win the MTV Southeast Asia Video Music Award.
Along with Lea Salonga and Regine Velasquez, Kyla was listed as Best Female Singer in a survey held by popular teen magazine Meg in her first full year in the music business alone. Kyla also has six Awit Awards, including Best New Female Artist. FM Radio station KF FM even hailed her as Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
Kyla's second album I Feel for You marked Kyla's debut as a songwriter, penning two compositions: "I'm Into You"" and "This Day". It is with her sophomore offering that Kyla was given the opportunity to collaborate with popular recording artists like Freestyle and Gary Valenciano. She also collaborated with Malaysian R&B artist, Ferhad for his single "What More"
Kyla opened 2002 with a band, receiving the award for Female Artist of the Year from two of the country's most popular radio stations Magic 89.9. and Monster Radio RX 93.1. She was also invited to perform at the MTV Asia Awards with popular boy group Blue.
Kyla's third album, I Will Be There is aided by the country's most popular and respected artists. The title track is penned by none other than Ogie Alcasid, while "Naghihintay Lamang" is written by Janno Gibbs and "Feel So Good" by Rhada. There are a couple of reunions in "I Will Be There", as well. First is with Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano as they do a duet with "Sana Maulit Muli". After their performance at the MTV awards, Blue collaborates with Kyla wit the funky "Flexin'".
Kyla joined the noontime variety show SOP as a regular host on April 24, 2002. On November 29, 2002, Kyla interpreted the song "Buti Na Lang" at the Metropop Songfest.
Kyla was also chosen to do a duet with Ronan Keating at the Araneta Coliseum on February 13, 2003.
Kyla released her third album, I Will Be There, which is also the title of her ballad carrier single on May 23, 2003. The album also produced the single "Bounce." She performed the song "Flexin" with British R&B group Blue at the MTV Asia Awards in Singapore that same year.
Kyla made special appearances in sitcoms and made her acting debut in the telenovela Narito Ang Puso Ko.
2004-2006: Not Your Ordinary Girl and Beautiful Days:
She co-hosted GMA Channel 7's defunct Sunday variety show SOP. She opened 2004 with her birthday celebration at SOP with a surprise duet from American singer-songwriter and producer, Keith Martin. Kyla had included one of his songs in her Perfectly Acoustic compilation album released December 2003.
Onto her fourth album, Kyla dished out what may be Kyla's best work just yet. There were a lot of collaborations, a bunch of revivals, and some cute original materials, making Not Your Ordinary a not so ordinary album, too.
On its way to the top of the charts is Kyla's first single, "Human Nature". The song is a Michael Jackson original that is one of the several covers in the album. Kyla remakes Clair Marlo's "Till They Take My Heart Away'"", as well as Gary Valenciano.'s "What More Can I Say?", and Ella Mae Saison's "If The Feeling Is Gone".
Collaborations with Keith Martin and Jay-R make Kyla's album a fun and funky album. From R&B to pop to a bit of hip hop and the good ol' ballad, Not Your Ordinary Girl demonstrates Kyla's versatility as a singer and performer. Kyla's conquest to stardom paid off as her latest album attained its Platinum status in November 2004. Her concert, Kyla "Not Just Your Ordinary Girl" at the Araneta Coliseum on November 12, 2004, was a certified sold out concert as well.
The same year, she opened for Alicia Keys Live in Manila at the Araneta Coliseum.
From 2006 to 2007, Kyla hosted Popstar Kids, a talent search for potential kids aired on QTV that produced teen singing sensation Julie Anne San Jose.
In June 2006, Kyla's blend of singer-songwriter sensitivity and a big voiced R&B have proven more as she released her fifth album under EMI Phils entitled Beautiful Days where each track takes you to the emotional high of love to return and the lows of a love unrequited in five covers and nine original singles.
The album features the first single "Ngayong Wala Ka Na", a sumptuous combination of soul and heart with the song's composer, arranger and producer is R&B hit maker himself, Keith Martin. This song is also written by Jason Balibay and Diana Dayao.
2007-2009: Heartfelt and Heart 2 Heart:
In 2007, she released her sixth album, Heartfelt. Her first album of remakes, Heartfelt contained 17 tracks, 16 of which are remakes including "I Don't Want You to Go" and "It's Over Now" and an original composition, "Someone"
Kyla and Jay R also were given their own segment at SOP Rules called "Souled Out" which aired on GMA Network every Sunday.
On October 10, 2007, Kyla sang the Philippine National Anthem in Manny Pacquiao versus Marco Antonio Barrera fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Also, she acted as Sarah Geronimo in her life story at Magpakailanman.
After Heartfelt, she released and co-produced her seventh album, 2008's Heart 2 Heart. The album produced the 2009 singles "Old Friend" and "Back in Time", written by Jay-R. The song "You Make Me Feel", written by Kyla and Jay R, won "Best R&B song at Awit Awards while "Back in Time" won "OPM Song of the Year" at the RX 93.1 Awards and "Best Collaboration Award" at the Wave 89.1 Urban Music Awards. In 2010, "Back in Time" also won "Favorite song" at the MYX Music Awards . Along with these awards she also won "OPM Female Artist of the Year" and "OPM Female Artist of the Decade" at the RX 93.1 Awards late 2009.
Kyla also played a lead role on Dear Friend's episode, "The Three Bachelors", starring opposite longtime music partner Jay R.
2010-present: Private Affair & International Acclaim:
On February 14, 2010, Kyla joined fellow R&B artists Jay R and Billy Crawford and Nikki Gil for a special Valentine's Day concert. Kyla received nominations at 2010 MYX Music Awards including Favorite Female Artist, Favorite Mellow Video for Old Friend, Favorite Collaboration and Favorite Song for Back in Time with Jay R, and Favorite Remake for the album Heart 2 Heart In celebration of a 10-year prominence in the music industry, PolyEast Records released 27 of the "R&B royalty's" biggest hits in a two-CD compilation: Essence of Soul: The Hits Collection along with a new song, "Hanggang Wakas". "Hanggang Wakas" is a duet with Malaysian pop-R&B artist Hazami, who first wrote the song in Bahasa entitled "Tekad". Kyla is a regular performer-host of GMA's Sunday variety show Party Pilipinas. On November 29, 2010, Kyla and longtime music partner Jay R held a concert at the Music Museum, entitled "Soulmates". At that time, the two had also signed a contract with Terra Group in Indonesia.
While recording an album in Indonesia and Malaysia Kyla's album Private Affair was released on November 30, 2010 under EMI and PolyEast Records. Its first single is "Mahal Kita (Di Mo Pansin)". Its second single, "Don't Tie Me Down", written by Kyla, Jay-R, Kris Lawrence, Billy Crawford, and Jimmy Muna, was released in January. Kyla was also a featured artist in Indonesian R&B artist Joeniar Arief's new album Melayang Tinggi. The official music video for his third single "Indah Cinta Kita" featuring Kyla was released on first week of August 2011 that became a big hit on radio stations all over Indonesia.
Michael Bolton and David Foster conveyed their admiration for Kyla's singing prowess upon hearing her sing "I Will Always Love You" as David Foster played the piano at a private dinner hosted by Vicky Belo. Michael Bolton said Kyla was "super amazing!". The said dinner was attended by few people including American singer Ashanti.Brian McKnight has also expressed a desire to work with Kyla, referring her his "new favorite female vocalist". He wrote a song for her entitled "My Heart", which Kyla performed for the first time on November 6, 2011 at Party Pilipinas.
Before marrying Rich Alvarez, Kyla held a concert at Teatrino, Greenhills on November 11, 2011 entitled "Depidida de Soltera" (translated as, "Farewell to spinsterhood / single-hood", in English).
Kyla was one of the cast of GMA Network's Primetime Time of My Life, the first ever dance themed series on Philippine Television. On December 11, 2011, Kyla sang the Philippine National Anthem in Brian Viloria versus Giovanni Segura boxing match at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, Philippines. Kyla was one of the guests of Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez concert at Araneta Coliseum, Philippines on February 14, 2012 entitled "Mr. and Mrs. A". She sang Regine Velasquez's hit "Narito Ako".
On March 16, 2012, Kyla and Brian McKnight performed the song How do You Keep the Music Playing at his concert at the Araneta Coliseum.
Kyla also recorded a song entitled "Huling Sayaw" with rock band Kamikazee for its new album Romantico. The single was released in 2012.
On June 1, 2012, Christian Bautista and Kyla joined Vietnam's pop singers Tung Duong and Thanh Lam as they performed together at the White Palace Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City. Christian and Kyla were received warmly by the mostly Vietnamese members of the diplomatic corps, government officials and the private sector. Christian sang I Believe I Can Fly and Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and Kyla sang Emotions and a Barbra Streisand medley. Then, they did a duet of We Could Be In Love before singing We Are The World with Tung Duong and Thanh Lam. Kyla and Jay-R showcased the Filipino's world-renowned musicality when they performed at the Philippine National Day of World Expo 2012 held in Yeosu, South Korea on July 22, 2012.
Kyla interpreted the song "Be My Everything" originally written by Jessa Mae Gabon during A Song of Praise (ASOP) Music Festival 2012, the Philippines' first praise song competition on television. It was held at The Araneta Coliseum on September 24, 2012. ASOP music festival was an anticipated biannual event at MCGI and is in continued search for best praise songs from composers within the organization alongside ASOP TV.
Kyla guested at Rachelle Ann Go's "Rise Against Gravity" concert at the Music Museum on October 26, 2012. They performed a duet of Adele Medley.
On October 28, 2012, Kyla and husband Rich Alvarez announced that they are expecting their first baby at Party Pilipinas stating that they have "received the most beautiful blessing." At the time of the announcement, Kyla was three months pregnant She, however, remained a regular host and performer at Party Pilipinas.
On February 7, 2013, Kyla announced that she will take a maternity leave stating that February 24 will be her last day at the music variety show Party Pilipinas. She then confirmed that she will return to the show in July. On February 17, she announced that she had postponed her last day at Party Pilipinas until March 3.
Music and voice:
Kyla remains to be one of the most distinguished singers in the Philippines due to her very distinct "R&B voice" as well as her vocal acrobatics. Kyla is classified as Dramatic Coloratura Soprano and is known for her raspy and husky voice as well as her use of melisma and her ability to scat. Thus, the her voice has often been described as the marriage of Beyonce's voice and Mariah Carey's raspy singing voice. She has also been compared to R&B singers Aaliyah and Tamia. Her vocal range spans more than four octaves. Locally, she has often been deemed as Regine Velasquez's heiress.
Kyla's music is generally contemporary R&B that also incorporates jazz, ballad, funk, hip hop, and soul as well as pop belting songs. Kyla is also known for writing inspirational and female-empowerment themed compositions taken from personal experiences, as well as her friends' experiences. Kyla also co-produces most of the songs in her album as well as other records in which she has been involved.
Kyla credits Mariah Carey and Beyonce Knowles as her major musical influences. Kyla also named Regine Velasquez as another one of her influences because "she's an all-around entertainer: a great actor, a good singer, and a beautiful, elegant woman. She's one of the few singers able to cross over into really good movies." Kyla cites Whitney Houston as another idol saying she "inspired her to get up there and do what she did."
Other musical influences include Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, Sade Adu, Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, Destiny's Child and Rachelle Ferrell.
With more than 10 years of prominence in the music industry, Kyla has accumulated numerous awards from many critically acclaimed music award giving bodies, surpassing many of her contemporaries. Dubbed as "The Philippines' R&B and Soul Princess", Kyla is one of the most awarded singers in the Philippines. Her hit music video "Hanggang Ngayon" won Kyla the MTV Viewer's Choice for Southeast Asia award at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, making her the only Filipina to be so honored. She has amassed estimated sales of one million albums in Asia. Her work has earned her several achievements, including a star on the Walk of Fame in the Philippines, one MTV Asia Award, four MTV Philippines Music Award, four MYX Awards and eleven Awit Awards where she also holds the record for the most wins for a female act. She also been honored by the Philippines Society of Composers, Singers and Publishers in variety show SOP for her contributions to music as one of the first pioneers of R&B music in the Philippines.
Artists have cited her as an inspiration include South Border and Freestyle as well as Philippine icons Regine Velasquez, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera and Ogie Alcasid and international superstars such as Brian McKnight.
Kyla graduated from Philippine Christian University with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. Her father is a lawyer and, she has three siblings. Known for her humble and wholesome personality, she has maintained a relatively low-key life away from the controversies of show business, although her relationship with basketball player Rich Alvarez was especially followed by the media.
In 2005, Kyla began dating PBA player Rich Alvarez. After six years of dating, the couple announced their engagement on February 10, 2011. During her announcement at Party Pilipinas, Kyla performed her song "Beautiful Days". Upon revealing their engagement video called "Save the Date" at Party Pilipinas, Kyla performed the song "Another You". On October 23, Kyla and Jay R did their last duet together before Kyla was to get married.
On November 6, 2011, Kyla sang a song written for her by Brian McKnight. Entitled "My Heart", it has since become her wedding song.
Engagement and Wedding:
Though Kyla and Rich were both very much involved in the wedding preparations, the couple preferred to keep the wedding itself and the details at a very low key
On November 9, 2011, it was revealed that Kyla's wedding dress was designed by friend-couturier Cocoy Lizaso She also mentioned that she will not be singing on her wedding as she wants her friends in the music industry to sing for her this time. It was revealed that Ogie Alcasid, Gary V, Martin Nievera, Jaya, and Janno Gibbs would sing at her wedding. Due to their busy schedules, according to speculations, will take place sometime in June 2012.
Following the release of their engagement video in Party Pilipinas on July 2011, Kyla revealed that the wedding will take place on November 28, 2011.
The wedding took place on November 28, 2011 at Santuario de San Antonio, a well-known church for weddings between Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village in Makati City. Among the attendees are the executives of the three top commercial television networks in the Philippines: Felipe Gozon (GMA Network), Ms. Cory Vidanes (ABS-CBN), and Mr. Manny V. Pangilinan (TV 5) who all served as principal sponsors of the wedding.Ogie Alcasid was also a principal sponsor. Close friends of Kyla from the industry, Karylle, Christian Bautista, Erik Santos, Rachelle Ann Go, and Jolina Magdangal also attended the wedding.
During the church rites, La Diva, Kris Lawrence, Yosha Honasan, and Opera performed. For the reception, Kyla invited fellow singers from Party Pilipinas, Janno Gibbs and Jaya. Mr. Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera both from the rival show variety show ASAP also crossed network lines to sing at the wedding as well.
A day after the ceremony, a church wedding video was released featuring the song Beautiful Days, the song Kyla wrote for Rich five years ago.
GMA network aired "A Beautiful Day: Kyla & Rich Alvarez Wedding Day TV special" on December 10 and 11, 2011 that included the couple's personal story.