MANILA, Philippines?An abundance of love and deep sense of gratitude swept both performers and audience at the David Foster and Friends concert on Saturday night at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The show, attended by some 10,000 people, marked the homecoming performance of the Philippines? most famous singer, Charice, who has been living in the United States for a couple of years while pursuing an international career.
Charice joined an impressive line-up of artists, including Natalie Cole and Peter Cetera, ?American Idol? season two winner Ruben Studdard, and the young classical-pop vocal quartet Canadian Tenors.
Most of them shared one thing in common: They owe a big part of their achievements to Foster, who produced or co-wrote some of their biggest selling songs and albums.
When the show began, the crowd couldn?t contain its excitement as Foster entered at courtside, greeting everyone in his path. Onstage, he shook his fists and took a bow as the atmosphere turned electric.
?I love this country! The people are so warm, and there?s music everywhere you go,? he said after playing ?The Love Theme from St. Elmo?s Fire (For Just a Moment)? on a grand piano, backed by a five-piece band.
His thrilled expression sprang from his strong desire to finally see the country of his latest protégé, the 18-year-old Charice, whom he first met three years ago through her main benefactor and adviser, Oprah Winfrey.
He went on to take Charice under his wing, producing her self-titled debut CD on his own label 143 Records. He also put her on the lineup of the first David Foster and Friends show in 2008 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Saturday?s show was the Philippine leg of a five-city Asian tour.
She ?defines musicality?
First on the bill were the Canadian Tenors. Their version of ?The Prayer? was majestic.
?If I could sing like that, I wouldn?t need anybody else ? But God doesn?t work with both hands,? Foster quipped, suggesting that while an artist may have the talent to compose songs, he may not necessarily have as good a skill to sing them.
Foster introduced Cole as a performer who ?defines musicality.?
A confessed former heavy drug user, Cole, now 60, proved her pop royalty blood was as dynamic as ever?swinging from a jazzy cover of ?Fever,? to her own 1989 ballad ?Miss You Like Crazy,? on to ?Unforgettable,? her ?duet? with her late father Nat King Cole.
The show yielded many surprises, including Foster picking volunteers from the audience to sing. Among those who obliged, aside from virtual nobodies, were Randy Santiago, Pilita Corrales and Arnel Pineda.
Santiago joked that he had just stood up to go to the men?s room. With Foster accompanying him on the piano, he sang ?Wildflower? by Foster?s old band Skylark.
Corrales asked Foster, ?Would you mind if I sing a Tagalog tune?? She went on to do ?Dahil Sa Yo.?
Foster requested that Pineda sing Chicago?s ?Hard Habit to Break,? which he did?prompting Cetera, then walking onto the stage, to tease Pineda for taking some of the spotlight from him.
Confronting the world
Cetera sang his collaborations with Foster: ?Hard to Say I?m Sorry,? ?You?re the Inspiration,? ?Glory of Love,? with his own hit from Chicago days, ?If You Leave Me Now,? thrown in.
When Foster called Charice, the Big Dome shook with applause. Foster looked overwhelmed.
Charice, in a short fuchsia dress and sporting a curly, light brown hair, projected the image of a young woman confidently dealing with all the possibilities the entertainment world could offer.
Her reputation zooming even more following her stint in the TV series ?Glee,? Charice couldn?t do anything wrong?even as she, in the first few minutes, seemed detached from her wildly screaming fans.
When she began to sing, everyone momentarily froze.
Whether interpreting Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, Charice seemed in control of everything, tackling the high notes like she had the biggest pair of lungs in the planet, but showing sensitivity when she approached the soft stanzas.
As she soared in ?All By Myself,? one paused to wonder what Charice might be thinking in her private moments, after the adoring fans and the standing ovations shall have come and gone.
It?s too early to tell how the pressures of celebrity life would affect her. But this night, Foster kept reminding her he saw nothing but the best opportunities for her if she kept her feet on the ground.
Everybody stood proud of Charice, thankful to Foster, and lovingly appreciative of having watched one of the most memorable concerts this year.