Has it been 30 years since a dashing young man fresh from the United States dazzled us with his songs, “Holiday,” “Be My Lady” and “Pain”?
After three decades, Martin Nievera has lost his twang but not his charisma on stage. I’m his fan as well as his friend. Since Pops Fernandez is like a sister to me, I was a witness to their love story from Day One. Even if they have parted ways, I’m glad my friendship with Mart isn’t coterminous with his marriage to my best friend Pops. Every time we bump into each other, it’s just like old times. Mart has a unique way of endearing himself to you a little bit more in every encounter. The Concert King is all set to regale us with his timeless hits in his 30th anniversary concert at the Smart Araneta on September 13 at 8 p.m. (For tickets, call 9115555). Let’s celebrate the man and his music. Thank you, Mart for giving us songs that saw us through every heartbeat and heartbreak of the way.
How will your anniversary concert be different from all your other concerts?
I have decided to step back and go “old school,” this time around with my 3D anniversary concert. I want to go back to what I did in years past where I sing more of my own hits and with an orchestra and a microphone. That’s it. Nothing overly produced or visually candied. Just you and me and my music. With Louie Ocampo, and Gerard Salonga conducting the ABS-CBN Orchestra I feel we will bring everybody back to the way the concert scene used to be.
What was your most memorable performance and why?
I was in a concert at the Loyola Gym in Ateneo produced by students. It was not the Araneta or the MOA in a make or break concert, but it was just as important and turned out to be one of the most memorable nights of my life. Why? Because no one came. No audience. Just the students and their families. It was one of the best performances of my life. I even added encore numbers. I even got a standing ovation. I learned and grew up a lot that night. My deal was just to please pay my band and production. They did and the show in my eyes was a huge success. So it would have to be that night and the night I sang the National Anthem for my countrymen all over the world as well as in front of and in honor of our champion Manny Pacquiao. Those were two extremely unforgettable proud nights in all my 30 years.
What was the turning point of your career?
My bouncing back concert tour with my CrossOver family. They picked up a concert I did at the Folk Arts Theater produced by friend Jacob Fernandez, entitled, “XVII,” and brought it all over the country. This was fresh after the phone in my office was so silent for so long after the big, very public separation with Pops.
What was a life-changing moment for you?
The changing moment? Today. Now. From being almost the “one and only” to becoming the “one of many.” In other words from “flavor of the month” to “we are out of months with flavor.” It’s very humbling to realize how quickly time changes many things.
Do you have any quirks/ rituals while you’re backstage before your concert starts?
I am supposed to not talk, but I violate that every time. I stretch, vocalize, visualize, take a long shower and imagine myself onstage already doing the show. With a very wet sequence guide stuck to the shower wall I do this at least two or three hours before every concert for the last 30 years.
What song can’t you sing?
Rap, hip-hop, too, I guess [are] so not me.
What do you tell Robin and Ram about women and about love?
I tell them they should love unconditionally and with respect and honor. Every love experience happens for a reason and should be honored. No matter how it started, no matter how it may end. Love big, give lots and make her laugh at least once a day.
How’s Santino (Martin’s son with Katrina Ojeda)? Tell us about your bonding moments with him.
I really don’t see Santino as much as I wish I could, but when I do it’s like time never stopped. We spend most of our bonding time in Disneyland. It never gets old. Never. It’s pure magic!
What do you miss most about Pops?
Actually, I don’t have reason to miss anything about her, because I follow her on Instagram and I love reading her inspirational messages and lessons in life that she learns and shares with us all.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you remember Pops?
Robin and Ram and sushi.
How has your perception of love changed through the years?
I am more jaded, too private, paranoid and scared. That’s all.
Among all your hit songs, which one is your fave? What’s the significance of that song in your life?
I love to sing “Say That You Love Me,” “You Are My Song” and “Forever” because these songs challenge my range and attack. But my Broadway Medley lets me tear up every emotion I can muster.
In your 30 years in the biz, what was the toughest trial you went through and what did you learn from it?
Every day is a tough trial. I have to always outdo myself and reinvent whatever I can whenever I can just to stay in the race. I listen as much as I can and I am NOT too big to be wrong and to be taught new tricks. Every day there is something new to learn.
What’s the secret of your staying power?
Not knowing I have staying power and not knowing there are secrets to it.
What’s your advice to aspiring singers?
Sing because you love it, not for fortune or fame. Love is forever, fame and fortune are not.