Fil-Am boy band Filharmonics shines on NBC’s ‘The Sing-Off’


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LOS ANGELES–A group of Filipino-American youngsters is getting a lot of attention as an entry in  NBC’s  musical competition, “The Sing-Off.”

The Filharmonic is a boy band that specializes in urban hip hop with ’90s nostalgia.  It consists of six members: vocalists VJ Rosales, Joe Ilagan, Trace Gaynor, and Barry Fortgang, vocal bass Jules Cruz, and beat-boxer Niko Del Rey. They have been a consistent favorite on the reality show.

Judge Jewel praised the group for emotionally “going all in” in their Dec.18 performance of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.”

“The Sing-Off” is a competition series hosted on NBC by multiplatinum recording artist Nick Lachey.

This year’s season will run for seven episodes, with the finale set for telecast on Monday, Dec. 23 with a two-hour episode (9-11 p.m.).

The program showcases the country’s top a cappella groups performing popular songs in ways that viewers have never heard them before. “The Sing-Off” has no lip-synching, back-up bands or safety net. They are singing with dreams of walking away with the ultimate prize—a recording contract and $100,000.

Singing star Jewel joined the judges table this season alongside Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five) and Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men), who are both returning.

Filharmonic emerged from friendly chance encounters at singing competitions. Welded together by their respect for Filipino heritage, they combined their talents, which come from a wide variety of backgrounds in the performing arts industry, including pop, a capella, jazz, opera, theater, classical, etc.

Barry Fortgang was born and raised in Las Vegas.  He started in his parents’ youth performing group, “Showbizkidz,” which sang at various gatherings and conventions. He is studying music theater in Los Angeles.

Joe Ilagan is from San Dimas, Calif.  He attended Michigan State University where he majored in music education and opera performance.  He performed with the Chamber Singers and the vocal jazz group, Singcopation.  Joe was also involved in the men’s a cappella group Fermata Nowhere.

Born and raised in Henderson, Nevada, Jules Cruz started singing in 6th grade after registering for classes late and was put into choir against his will.  Jules continued singing at Coronado High School and then Mt. San Antonio College with the Mt. SAC Chambers Singers and the all-male a cappella group, Fermata Nowhere.

VJ Rosales was orn and raised in Los Angeles.  He teaches voice and piano at the renowned Silverlake Conservatory of Music, owned by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Vj was also featured on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2012 and sang with Ceelo Green.  Vj holds a bachelor’s degree in choral vocal music education and jazz studies performance from Cal State University Long Beach.

Niko Del Rey is from Diamond Bar, Calif.  He started singing and performing at the age of 16 and has recently graduated from University of California, Riverside with a degree in political science.  Although music is his passion, he hopes to one day work with the United States Marshals.

Trace Gaynor was born and raised in Elmhurst, Illinois. He plays piano and was concertmaster and a violin player in the York Symphony Orchestra. He is a senior at the University of Southern California, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in broadcast & digital journalism.

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  • Jesse_Bruce_Pinkman

    Reminds me of the band Tux and Ryan Cayabyab. They don’t use instruments but at least 4 of them can sing. They can sing quite well too. Plus they’re college graduates.

  • BCon

    How will the winner be chosen? By text votes again? FORGET IT! Americans will never vote for you no matter how good you are, and Fil-Am votes are simply not enough.
    See what happened to Illona Santiago on the X Factor?

  • sowhatifimfilipino

    Fil-Am. Sigh. They are born and raised in America. They are Americans. Just saying.

    • ed_nique

      they are americans who are proud of their filipino heritage. they got acquianted with each other in filipino community activities. and they named their group FILharmonics to show who they are. they put to shame Philippine born naturalized citizens of other countries who are ashamed to identify themselves as pinoys.

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