|Joey Albert at The Bakeshop (1994) :
Photo on left shows Joey Albert (left) as guest of honor in a baguette-breaking ceremony during Edsa Shangri-La, Manila's opening of The Bakeshop at the Shangri-La Plaza. The launching ecermony was officiated by Shangri-La Plaza's president, Ms. Victoria Igan (right) w/ notable members of the press in attendance, in coordination w/ EDSA Shangri-La, Manila's former PR Manager, Bambi Rivera & PR Asst. Diane Franco. The Bakeshop (as of 2005) is now located at the GF of the EDSA Shangri-La, Manila, Mandaluyong City.(Sorry for the blurred pic!).
|Joey Albert at a Maryknoll College
In a variety show, backstage.
Taken in 1983 at the Marian Auditorium
|Joey Albert at one her
concerts at the ULTRA.
| JOEY ALBERT: Enduring Artist, GK Ambassadress, Educator, Working Mom, Filipino
- by Diane Franco
"Mic test. Check, check! Mic test!"
It's the sound engineer's voice reverberating around a concert hall in Los Angeles, USA. Backstage, the dancers are donning their costumes. Nerves are on edge, but excited. Meanwhile, the bass drum booms, the lead guitar screams a few bars and the keyboardist tinkers away faintly. Hang around a sec and you can’t miss it: It's the piano's introduction of "Tell Me".
This backdrop actually opens you to the magical world of Joey Albert’s music. It’s familiar territory to her -- the singer who rose to fame with scores of Filipino fans who migrated to North America, who remember her with great fondness and watch her shows abroad. Coming from the hushed corridors of a convent-run, exclusive school for girls, her title win as Ms. Dream Girl Filipina in '82 steered the way and mounted her illustrious singing career. It was inevitable. Joey remains as one of the Philippines' most popular recording and enduring performing artists of her time. No stranger to waxing albums in vinyl, her recordings dominated the air waves with more than a dozen songs which she popularized in her live performances as well. In her own right, she blazed the trail for others to follow suit. She was the first artist to record on CD.
What's in a name
Fondly called Joey Albert, one would typically find “Joey” and “Albert” in a book of baby names for boys. However, her name does ring a bell. It’s as delightful and cheerful as Christmas morning. She first hugged the limelight with that collegiala, girl-next-door image; her public persona, refreshing, like someone you want to introduce to your mother as a new family friend. To illustrate this, top magazines that target working women and mothers had her for their cover stories. The publishers seemed to have suggested that everyone wanted to emulate or aspire to be like Joey Albert. The market’s psychographic profile must have indicated that readers wanted someone like her as a friend, a classmate, colleague, cousin or big sister. She fit the profile. She projected herself as a woman shoring up to adulthood even when for a brief period her celebrity image got hooked to a prolific composer who wrote for her some of those smashing hits. But thereafter, it was still her natural persona that simply illuminated her much-celebrated renditions and songs. People did and still do, sing along to her songs with her in her shows. She’s the kind of singer that families go to watch after an early, happy dinner in a pizza parlor to catch her show. Undoubtedly, she’s homegrown and homey.
When she actively made the rounds in campus, TV, radio and mall promotional tours in Manila and abroad, she was protectively billeted backstage by production managers and assistants like she were a pompous diva, which she is not. Not even close. Her friendly and down-to-earth charm disarm many to this day, and yet, she arguably, is still the pop queen to beat with a career which hardly generates ugly showbiz intrigue that plague many wanna-be's today. Needless to say, the pre-eminent pop music impresario has more than a dozen full record albums and more than 10 industry awards to her name.
"Tell Me", "Over and Over", "A Million Miles Away", "Points of View", "Larger Than Life", "It's Over Now", "Iisa Pa Lamang", "Yakapin Mo Ako", "Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin", "Sa 'Yo Lamang", "Roses in the Rain", are just a few from her rich portfolio of monster pop hits. Roaring into the OPM pop scene, her concerts were full packed. She was one of the first solo artists to stage concerts at the ULTRA and the Meralco Theater. Baby boomers who grew up during OPM's early, glorious days in the '70s, '80s or even early '90s know that Joey comes from a roster of artists that graced the stage of big venues. Her performances there were the kind we continue to hanker for in original, Filipino pop music that has classic, timeless value. In fact, a string of those hits then are cover versions today of many bands that can't quite immortalize their own music the way we remember OPM. If it is said that the song makes the singer, Joey’s talent and her much-coveted public persona made the songs sing and soar. She is very likeable, period.
As a Filipino in Vancouver
As her productive life spans the decades in her growth as an artist and as a Filipino living in Vancouver, Joey sees aspects of her public and private life evolving into an inner-centered parody of diverse self-invention. She is now many things to many people. "Since I moved here, I have been blessed with shows in the U.S. I guess the proximity is a big advantage. It's cheaper to fly me in from here than from the Philippines. I've also been very active as Gawad Kalinga's Canadian Ambassadress and, after going back to school for a career course in early childhood education, I have found a wonderful second career as a preschool teacher here." Joey is the artist who’s been there and done that. She found her bearings in bigger issues other than showbiz.
Ambassadress for the homeless
Grounded by the support of family and school life, she finds “the poor as a very important and dear part of my life as well”. She adds, "My appointment as Gawad Kalinga's ambassadress entails representing Gawad Kalinga in various events and promoting advocacy towards it. This mission includes impassioning Filipinos here and in the U.S., not only to help Gawad Kalinga but to also care for our countrymen back home. Being GK's ambassadress allows me to fulfill my need to continue to express the deep compassion I have always had for the poor and powerless and allows me to stay connected to the country I love and miss."
Taking her cue from the founder of Gawad Kalinga as a source of inspiration, she says, "I echo what Tony Meloto said that inspired me to support GK: That no Filipino must die without doing anything for his country. And if they have children, I tell them to do it for their own children so their children will see a country that they can be proud to say they were born in." Joey explains, "GK provides, within its communities, health, education and livelihood programs through which each community can learn to grow into a holistic, self-reliant community; thereby restoring the dignity and self-pride of its members and consequently producing better citizens."
Molding young minds
As a preschool teacher, Joey is not new to teaching. Prior to her singing career, she taught religion at her alma mater, Assumption College. Nevertheless, she finds it important to pursue teaching also in Canada. "What I find to be most significant is molding young minds into independent, self reliant thinkers who will use all aspects of their emotional, intellectual and moral being, in making the best choices for themselves at the youngest age possible."
As a working mother, Joey continues to stretch her wings as a woman, artist and Canadian-Filipino that bring her experiences more rewarding than ever. "This has made me even prouder of myself than I was at the peak of my career... going back to school and reinventing myself into a new passion has made me realize I can do anything and never be stuck anywhere."
Thrill of performing
Joey's stints abroad have brought her to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, Oman and to other destinations. Like a joyful ride, she describes performing as a "sense of having come full circle and the ultimate fulfillment of having touched other people's lives forever." Known as a woman of strong faith, her adventures on stage arrive at "the point when I connect with the audience and the spiritual experience begins. Through my music, we are all connected -- one mind, one heart, one soul." As a singer, she enjoys the freedom of her artistry on stage and backstage. When asked what it’s like to be with her co-musicians center-stage, she replies, "Nothing words can say will ever express being in the moment. It's being in the right rhythm and the exact same nuance at the very same moment. Just really touching hearts when I'm singing and someone's crying over my song.... someone always cries over my song. Hmmmm...I don't know why I do that." Off-stage, she enjoys "the creative side, of course, in planning and conceptualizing. Implementation is nice when you have an awesome production crew who believes in you."
Take it from the artist
There's more to Joey Albert, the artist. Much as her followers continue to visit her website (www.joeyalbert.com) and inquire about her from an e-group, she has her own thinking about the music industry. She explains, "My journey to becoming an artist was wonderful. I'm lucky. It was at a time when the stage was set for what I believe was the golden age of OPM. There were good venues to perform in, the patronage of Imelda Marcos paved the way for pride in our own music, the economy was good and the camaraderie among artists was genuine. What's it like today? I don't know...parang not enough original hits and solo artists."
Aware of the socio-economic situation in the Philippines, Joey is in touch with her mother and relatives here. She further shares her view, "The music industry is mostly a reflection of the economic state the country is in. So I think it would be that which I would change and make sure there is a political figure who is a patroness of the arts." Taking to heart her mission to educate young minds, she also expresses concern for young Filipino singers. She advises them, "Work hard and take your talent to the next level -- the artistic level (as opposed to the entertainment level). Use your talents wisely... take your art seriously... never forgetting that you have a responsibility to your listeners. Use your art to uplift and inspire, not just to feed shallow fantasies."
Great faith in the Filipino
After accepting the invitation of the Vancouver Philippine Consulate General (PCG) to spearhead its campaign on the Dual Citizenship and the Overseas Absentee Voting projects of the government in British Columbia, Canada, Joey registered as an overseas absentee voter on October 2005. When asked what remark she's heard most frequently about Filipinos, she observes, "That the FILIPINO IS HARDWORKING and among all other Asian cultures, it is the Filipino who integrates with greatest ease." Even as a Filipino-Canadian, Joey considers upholding important values such as "love of God, family and country... true friendship, integrity, humility and faith." When asked if a friendly and young Filipino family from the Philippines were to move in next door, she replies, "I'd make friends. I know how it feels to move into a foreign country and have no friends."
Snippets of Joey's thoughts
When asked for a brief lowdown of a few of her random thoughts, Joey says she would like, if she could, "visit Rome and France" more often. If given a chance to sit down with US President George W. Bush in private, she would tell him "to stop playing God." And in the world of showbiz where one can never tell friend from foe, her conviction stands to say, "Hay, naku...up to now, I still have experiences where I lose friends who I thought were friends except one thing's changed: When they fight me, I don't care anymore. Their loss, not mine." On a lighter note, she says she indulges in her "love for appetizers more than main courses." She also loves “the movie, 'Sabrina'. TV shows? I miss ‘Friends’ and ‘Frasier’. I loved ‘ER’….. I like ‘House’ and enjoy ‘CSI Miami’. And I love singing so much that I put up a band that makes pwesto in a hotel here." Her favorite time of the year in Vancouver would be "summer... cuz it's WARM and the sun's out!!!" And before she goes to sleep, the last thing she says is "goodnight to God, Mary, Joseph, all the angels and saints, and my dad and sister." And if by miracle some supernatural fate decided to give her an opportunity to converse with her late father for an hour, she protests, "One hour lang???????? Kulang!!! Well, I talk to him everyday... but if you mean talking to him and actually get a verbal reply... hmmmmm... secret."
This is Joey Albert: Spontaneous, endearing, funny, girlish and childlike, a go-getter, full of faith and accepting of her lifetime challenges. She advances toward the light rather than retreats to the dark side of things; she’s serious and passionate in her commitments – an interesting mix. Finally, when asked what her thoughts are when she has time to be still, she concludes, "Joey Albert dreams her dreams... I love daydreaming."
Backstage in an auditorium in cold Toronto, Joey snuggles up in her thick, velvet trench coat during the intermission of a GK benefit concert. Warm thoughts fill her with gratitude as the strains of the band’s strings begin to murmur and the audience settles down. She’s been in this moment many times before. And today is another gift of the present -- sustaining her lasting artistry, gently redefining her humanity and reinvigorating her attentiveness for the homeless Filipino, young students, the poor, and the Filipino audience, here and overseas. This day, like many other days, lingers with the promise of the future for them. It endures for the tomorrows that always come. Like Joey Albert.
(The author is a long-time fan of Joey Albert and was one of the composers in her album, “Brief Encounters”. This interview was conducted recently from Manila to Vancouver via e-mail).
|Click the piano for to tune in to DFS's music, including her song for Joey Albert; Albert on lead vocals, DSF and Albert on back-up vocals.|