Music News

Filipina songbird Charice set to release U.S. debut

Filipino singer Charice Pempengco performs at a local television program in Manila January 5, 2008. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

NEW YORK (Billboard) - With influential fans like Celine Dion, David Foster and Oprah Winfrey, teenage singer Charice is already making her presence felt in the U.S. market.

The Philippines-born 17-year-old’s anthemic love song, “Pyramid,” featuring Iyaz -- the first single from her self-titled debut album -- is currently at No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Charice (last name: Pempengco) is preparing for the May 11 release of her U.S. album debut on Foster’s 143 Records imprint at Reprise Records.

America first heard Charice’s powerful pipes in 2008 on a very big stage: “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The program’s producers sought her out after watching the then-16-year-old belt out anthems by Dion and Beyonce on YouTube. (Those performances have now racked up more than 13 million views.)

Charice returned to the “Oprah” stage in 2009 to perform the Diane Warren song “Note to God.” In the week that followed, the Foster-produced track sold 61,000 of its 110,000 total downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and enabled its No. 44 peak on the Billboard Hot 100. International performances alongside stars like Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban followed.

The Charice team is hoping for an even bigger sales spike following her next “Oprah” appearance: May 11, her album’s street date. Also supporting the release are additional TV appearances, including “Good Morning America,” and retail campaigns, including one with Target.

Charice says her 12-song collection will be a surprise to international fans, who are accustomed to her singing more traditional fare. “This is my first time finally recording a pop album and to have a pop single with a featured artist,” she says. “This is so much more different than what I was singing before.”

In the meantime, Charice is looking forward to another important milestone on the day before her “Oprah” gig and album drop: her 18th birthday. Fittingly, she’ll spend it riding the roller coaster at New Jersey’s Great Adventure theme park.