Filipino vocal powerhouse Charice got noticed in the new old-fashioned way: YouTube.
After she spent years entering more than 100 contests, performances of the 18-year-old were posted online and quickly hit heavy rotation in 2007. That year the vocalist was invited to the U.S. by Ellen DeGeneres to sing on her show. Appearances on “Oprah” followed; the talkshow hostess dubbed her “the most talented girl in the world.”
Based on those appearances, power producer David Foster came calling. When Charice returned to “Oprah” to debut the Foster-produced “Note to God” in 2009, the song was downloaded 61,000 times in the first week alone.
Charice, who was born Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco, grew up in Tagaytay, a small town four hours from Manila. The singer’s father abandoned the family when she was 4 and her younger brother Carl was 2. Charice has been quoted many times saying her first motivation to sing in contests was to help her family make some kind of living.
Even with all the success she’s had, Clarice has a backup plan. In addition to being a pop sensation, she’s also a freshman online at Southern New Hampshire U. and has discussed becoming an entertainment lawyer someday if her career as a singer and actress doesn’t work out.
But with a hit album and a recurring role on “Glee” as Sunshine Corazon, a foreign-exchange student who challenges the vocal prowess of hometown heroine Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), she can take her time with her studies.