As a marquee guest artist in a Los Angeles-held birthday concert of a friend, the Queen of Soul Jaya made everybody feel that she had no intention of upstaging the main act. She was there to support Garth Garcia, a beloved Filipino-American star in his own right.
True enough, Jaya added glitter to a “shining, shimmering” show by just being herself, effortless and naturally brilliant. She gave definitive meaning to how one need not push herself too much while on stage, and should just enjoy the crowd, either while singing or delivering a spiel.
“That was sweet. Thank you for your wonderful welcome to me,” said the soul diva after the crowd applauded long and loud to acknowledge her presence.
Perhaps due to her numerous accolades, most Filipinos have somehow forgotten that Jaya is the first Filipino recording artist to chart in the United States. Her Tagalog hits “Wala Na Bang Pag-Ibig,” “Dahil Tanging Ikaw,” and “Laging Naro’n Ka” have made her a household name.
Last Saturday at the Herbert Zipper Concert Hall in Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, the daughter of the late comedienne-singer Elizabeth Ramsey wowed the Fil-Am crowd with her duet with Garth of Dodjie Simon’s composition “Ikaw Lamang.” She complimented the birthday boy by saying she found the perfect stand-in for Janno Gibbs who did the famed record of the classic piece with her.
My Time: A Birthday Concert, brought to life by Starlink Promotions and TGM Group of Companies, also featured several promising Fil-Am artists in Southern California. Garth shone brightly in his, yes, “shining, shimmering” outfits and stage allure that complemented his smooth singing and properly timed quips.
Garth took the opportunity to promote his latest single “Round Round” released on the same day. It is a pop dance track that puts emphasis on his reputation as a singer delivering upbeat, recallable songs and mellowing down with heartfelt acoustic ballads. His version of “Do You Miss Me,” popularized by Fil-Am Jocelyn Enriquez, is unmistakably delightful to the ear, and so is his take of Selena’s signature hit “Dreaming of You,” both songs included in his EP Hits Reimagined released in 2021.
While the statuses of both Jaya and Garth were crucial to the crossing of their paths, it is destiny that put them together onstage. The latter had been poised to get deep into the Fil-Am artist community, the former was brought back to America after a stellar run in the Philippines.
Jaya climaxed her spot at Garth’s stylish birthday bash by singing her most recent, pre-pandemic hit, “Hanggang Dito Na Lang,” penned by StarPop label head Rox Santos. She shared, “It’s a song that has not been heard for two to three years. Then it was submitted to a Koreanovela which carried it.”
She added, “Sometimes God has His own ways of maneuvering things. He makes you wait.”
The album Queen of Soul, from which the song came, garnered awards. Jaya said she was already 50 when it happened. She noted, “Ang dami kong dapat ipagpasalamat. I’m so thankful that this song kind of happened before I made the move to live in America again.”