Hard-earned lessons from Regine’s 30-year career

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Regine Velasquez

Toward the middle of her career, Regine Velasquez, by her own admission, became complacent—“lazy,” even. She had already cemented her status as one of the most successful and influential music artists in the industry. And the act of singing no longer posed much of a challenge.

After all, Regine needed only to open her mouth and that celebrated voice would come out. She could sing seated, lying down or hoisted up in the air with a harness—no problem. And even when she was so sick she couldn’t speak, she could still sing.

But things began to change in the first few years of this decade. Shortly after giving birth to her son, Nate, in 2011, she developed acid reflux—a health condition that left her vocal cords irritated—and ultimately affected the sound and reliability of her voice.

“My voice is different now. It sounds thicker and has more texture. At times, it has noticeable huskiness. I’m insecure about the fact that my voice isn’t as clean as it once was,” she told the Inquirer in an interview, after signing a contract with Viva Entertainment for her coming 30th anniversary album and “R3.0” concert, which will be held on Oct. 21 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

But, the good thing about her current vocal condition? It has reignited her passion for performing. After so many years, Regine is back on her toes.

Excerpts from our chat Regine:

What makes singing tricky these days? I don’t know when my acid reflux will strike, or when my voice will act up. So, I have to compensate by trying to turn in a better performance overall.

You mean there’s more effort involved now? When I was just starting in the business, I was hungry—I wanted to prove myself and achieve something. When I finally got what I wanted, medyo tinamad ako—I just relied on my voice. But now that I have a little insecurity, I tend to work harder, which is good. Some people remarked that I seemed passionate again about what I do; that the fire in my belly is back.

So now it’s really the love for singing fueling you? The good thing about this stage in my life and career is that I feel like I no longer need to prove myself anymore. I feel like I have done enough in the past. I’m not here to compete or out-sing anyone. I’m here because I love singing.

Have you always had insecurities like those? I didn’t have such insecurities when I was young. Kapag may nagsabi na pangit ang performance ko, eh ’di pangit! I didn’t feel bad. It’s not that I thought I was invincible—I guess I was just more fearless then. But as I got older, I started getting insecure about the little things, like the wrinkles, though I know it’s silly—because all of us age, anyway. I can’t help it at times.

And the industry is unforgiving. For some reason, a lot of people equate being old to being laos. And with social media now…oh, they will make sure to let you know how they feel. Sometimes, people on the internet—a lot of them young—would tell me that I’m old and washed-up already. And I would be like, “Talaga, laos agad? ’Di ba pwedeng palaos lang muna?” (Laughs)

Having said that, there are still a lot of people who support me; fans who always watch my concerts, buy my albums and watch my television shows. And when I see their enthusiasm about what I do, I become more confident, and all the insecurities go away.

Tell us about your 30th anniversary album. There will be three, 10-track discs—one for new, original material, the second one for rerecorded versions of my past hits, like “You Are My Song.” The third one will be for songs I usually sing in concerts that have become identified with me. This is one of the reasons I returned to Viva—many of my well-loved songs that I want to use were recorded with the company.

Will it be released in time for the “R3.0” concert? Yes, that’s the plan. Maglalako ako ng CD doon! (Laughs)

What are the challenges in rerecording your previous hits? Choosing the songs was difficult, because some of them were already done well and would be better left untouched. I don’t want to rerecord a song if I can’t make it better or give it a fresh take. What’s the point? So, we had to pick the songs carefully and made sure I found a new approach in singing them.

My older songs will be easier to rerecord, because I have already forgotten how I did them (laughs)! The newer ones will be tougher, because they’re still fresh in people’s memories.

Do you think your being more experienced in life now will help? In terms of putting emotions, it’s easier now kasi majonders na ’ko!

How does it feel to still be relevant after 30 years in the biz? Are you sure I’m still relevant (laughs)? Honestly, I’m just happy to still be here and working.

Career-wise, what are you most proud of? More than the accolades or records I have achieved—for which I’m grateful, of course—I take pride in the fact that, in my own way, I was able to influence a younger generation of singers. And it’s not entirely because of my voice. I think my life story and background were something they found relatable, too.

A lot of singing contest hopefuls look up to you as an inspiration. It’s always heartening when aspiring singers say that they want to be like Regine Velasquez. Nakakatuwa. Si Angeline (Quinto), may altar ’yan para sa ’kin sa bahay nila. No joke (laughs)! And not to sound conceited, but Sarah Geronimo, Jona, Angeline, etc.—my gosh, they all love me!

Pullquote: Now that I have a bit of an insecurity, I tend to perform harder, which is good.

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