Zendee hopes to repay random favor
Not too long ago, Zendee Rose Tenerefe was just the unassuming “Random Girl” with the red knapsack who stopped people in their tracks at SM Megamall’s supermarket by belting out in front of a videoke display the torch song “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)” with the mettle of a pro.
The performance, captured on video and uploaded on YouTube on July 28, 2012 by awestruck onlooker Yuan Juan, instantly went viral. After 2.8 million hits, a once-in-a-lifetime appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and a debut solo album, the 21-year-old singer recently visited the grocery to relive that fateful moment. But the staff wouldn’t let her sing, Zendee recalled. She was “Random Girl” no more.
“They said I might cause crowding near the exit,” Zendee giggled as she related the experience to the Inquirer recently. “But I really miss going to that supermarket. My heart starts racing whenever I walk by.”
If only for that, Zendee said, she didn’t want to move from Mandaluyong City, where she and her mother used to spend nights at a local fire station. She admitted, “I tend to get emotional.”
The General Santos City native just fulfilled her dream of having her own album, fittingly titled “I Believe” (Warner Music Philippines). And should Lady Luck smile on her, Zendee said, she would use a portion of the album earnings to deliver a promise she made to Yuan, the person most instrumental in her unexpected rise to fame.
“I met Yuan last year, when my life story was featured on ‘Magpakailanman.’ I vowed to give him a DSLR camera so he could shoot more videos, and hopefully discover more talents,” she
related, adding that it was nothing compared to what the young man had done for her.
“He’s my angel; he helped make my dreams come true,” she gushed. “I know there are other people who take videos of me when I sing in public, but he was the only one who bothered to upload it. I hope we stay friends forever.”
At her album launch, Zendee gave entertainment reporters a taste of what to expect from her nine-track record, which features soulful and upbeat R&B-inflected tunes, plus a couple of pop covers.
Her vocals, full and powerful, were in top form as she sang, seated down, her first single, “Runaway,” “The Ones You Love” (written by Diane Warren), “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, and “Go the Distance,” which beautifully showcased her vocal dynamics. With her potent chest voice, she belted out the song’s glory note effortlessly before seamlessly shifting to a soft and fluttery melisma.
“I can’t believe this is all happening. Sharing my music makes me very happy. I want to inspire young hopefuls by proving that dreams come true,” she said.
Too fired up to slow down, Zendee vowed to keep honing her craft. “I’m determined to learn more than I already know,” she said. “I’d like to take vocal lessons and try other music genres, so my next album will sound fresh and different.”
Zendee volunteered that she is also working at improving her self-image. She explained, “I want to get slimmer. I used to think that appearance didn’t matter as long as you had talent. Now I see that I have to always look presentable.”
Asked if she was interested in acting in the future, Zendee said yes, she would love to be a comedienne. “No slapstick, though,” she said. “I’m naturally fun-loving. I like those funny, best friend-of-the-lead star roles!”
Another thing that Zendee is excited about is American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz’s concert tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where she will perform as the front act. She related that during her guesting on “Ellen” last year she met one of Jason’s agents who told her that she might perform alongside Jason someday. “I can’t believe that it came true!”
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