How Becca Godinez felt singing before 50,000 peopleBy Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES – Following the twin feats of Jessica Sanchez and Kirby Asunto (two singers of Filipino heritage) singing the US and Philippine national anthems, respectively, in the recent Pacquiao-Bradley fight, singer Becca Godinez scored a musical coup of her own last Wednesday in LA.
Before a cheering crowd of about 50,000 at the Dodger Stadium, Becca sang not only “The Star-Spangled Banner” but also “God Bless America.” How she got to do this on “Filipino Night” at the Dodgers-Angels game involves an interesting set of back stories related by her friend, Ted Benito.
How it began
It all began when “The Voice” finalist Cheesa backed out due to a family emergency. Ted called Becca to ask if she wanted to sing “God Bless …” on June 13. That was enough to make the singer choke with excitement and accept the offer; never mind that she was pinch-hitting for someone. A second call by Ted, we imagine, made Becca’s heartbeat race. Could she also sing the US national anthem? She said yes.
Ted is co-producing a concert, “Apl.de.ap Takes You to the Philippines,” at the Hollywood Bowl on July 8. Becca joins Nicole Scherzinger, Martin Nievera, Ogie Alcasid and many more talents. This marks the first time that Filipino music and dance will take center stage at the prestigious outdoor venue. Vanessa Hudgens, Lou Diamond Phillips and Jo Koy are hosting the concert.
As part of its outreach and promotions program, Hollywood Bowl, through Ted, tapped Becca for the Dodger Stadium gig. We asked Becca about her once-in-a-lifetime experience and she obliged via e-mail:
“It stands out as its own special event in my life. No other singing experience was, or will ever be, the same.
“The coordination and professionalism of all the Dodger Stadium folks involved in getting a singer prepared were outstanding. I felt completely confident that I was in good hands. Ted, Benito (Miranda, Becca’s husband) and my friends, Chris and Cay (Conner) were very nervous for me. Each time I began to practice, ‘Oh say can you see …,’ Ted would walk away and say ‘Stop it!’ They were funny! I was very calm and I they were near visiting the loo! My family could only say to me, ‘We are proud of you, we love you but pleeeeeease do not forget the words.’
“The journey began with the walk into the hallowed halls of the stadium. There was a palpable frenzy. A lady named April had picked us up. There were very precise directions about what was going to happen, where we would go, at what time, whom we were going to meet. The first area we were brought to was the United Club Suites, where the press boxes are located.
“I met and rehearsed with Nancy Bea—the popular long-time stadium organist responsible for the music during the entire game. She was so accommodating and calm that she put me right at ease. After this, I was grilled by one of their tech folks, Mike, on the importance of earplugs and how, without them, I would not be able to sing or keep tempo on the field. A killer echo bounces back to the singer, he said, an outright nightmare. If you aren’t sturdy on your music feet, you will be thrown off.
“Finally I was on the field but grilled by another tech man, Danny, about the importance of keeping the mic right by my mouth. I would face the field, and was advised not to look at myself on the giant screen because the time delay would mess up my timing. At 7 p.m., it was time. I walked up to the spot and thanked God for this gift of a lifetime.
“I sang oblivious of the cameras, the people and the craziness around me. When I got past the first killer high note, I relaxed a bit. When I got to the line, ‘O’er the land of the free …,’ the crowd cheered! Then to, ‘And the home of the brave.’ Wow! What a high, hearing an entire stadium applaud! I’d been on many stages and venues but this was one experience I will hold in my heart forever.
“We were brought to special seats and I had the joy of receiving handshakes and kudos from folks in the crowd. One said, ‘I love you!’ After six innings, I was summoned to an area just off first base. Now I was to face the crowd. To my right was the Angels team. Looking up at over 50,000 people was humbling.
“They announced my name and flashed it in giant lights and I was off! ‘God Bless America …’ The crowd sang along. It was pretty awesome. On the last ‘home sweet home,’ the crowd again cheered.
“Only God could have orchestrated the series of events that led to my being on that field. I cannot narrate here how it all began because it would be a novel. But only God, in all His grace and mercy, gave this ‘mature’ singer that stage and the chance to honor Him. I’m also grateful to Benito, my biggest support and source of strength.”
“Becca was awesome,” said Gelo Francisco. Gelo performed with the Philippine Chamber Singers-Los Angeles (PCS-LA), of which he is the artistic director, at the pre-game entertainment.
Of his own choir, acclaimed in LA’s music circles, Gelo said: “PCS-LA came prepped and psyched but the immensity of the event still caught everyone in awe. Some members had to pinch themselves to check if it was really happening. PCS-LA sang a tribal song from southern Philippines titled ‘Kayo Mungay Daun (The Weaving of Leaves).’ Next was a Philippine favorite, ‘Dahil Sa ’Yo (Because of You),’ and ‘Manila’ (by the ’70s band Hotdog). It was an unforgettable experience for the group as they saw three iconic LA teams, the Kings (who visited and brought their Stanley Cup), Angels and Dodgers.”
PCS-LA is also featured in the July 8 show. Details about the “celebration of Filipino music” at the Bowl on www.hollywoodbowl.com.
E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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