Patti Austin back in PH to help build homes for ‘Yolanda’ victims
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is one of the places American singer-songwriter Patti Austin holds dear to her heart. Having been to the country numerous times since 1973, Austin described the Philippines as her “home away from home.” She then mused that, for some reason, Filipinos have always been part of her life.
“The first time I had enough money for an interior decorator, it was a Filipino designer who used to work at Bloomingdales who did my apartment. And when my mom fell ill after suffering a major stroke, two Filipino caregivers helped me take care of her,” Austin told reporters in an interview on Saturday afternoon at the M Studio in Makati City.
She continued: “My makeup artist and hairdresser are from the Philippines. So is one of my dearest friends, Marguerite Lhuillier, who designs and builds furniture in her factory in Cebu.”
The last time Austin held a concert in Manila was just last September. And the experience, the 63-year-old music artist said, was “mind-blowing.” This time she’s back in town for a worthy cause. As her way of giving back to the Filipinos who have given her so much support, Austin will be holding two benefit fundraising shows for the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan).
The Grammy Award-winning jazz and R&B artist said she hoped to help build new homes for the calamity survivors through Habitat for Humanity. “I will try visit the hard hit cities; I would really like to do that,” related Austin, who plans to stay in the country until Jan. 6. “It’s been really rough for everyone, but I know that if we move forward, things will be better. And I want to be a part in lifting up the people’s spirits.
Tonight, Austin will perform with special guests Lea Salonga, Richard Merk and Martin Nievera in a show titled “Brand New Day” at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City. On December 31, she will go onstage at Fairmont Makati for the New Year’s Eve show “One Heart, One Voice”— again with Merk, plus Emcy Corteza, and the Sticky Band.
Tickets are available at TicketWorld; call 891-9999.
Excerpts from our interview:
What went through your mind when you heard about the devastation in the Philippines?
While I was sitting at home and seeing the devastation on television, I was like please, give the people there a break! I got lots of calls to do fundraisers, but these shows resonated with me the most since they’re going to be actually held here. We’re astounded by the resilience, bravery and heart of all the people.
And you didn’t think twice about returning here.
I was trying to find an excuse to come back and do something. I love how you love me, and I’m happy to be able to use and share the gift of music God gave me. We can rebuild this place because there are magnificent people here. Devastation will never last that long because there’s so much goodness here.
You’ll be working with Habitat for Humanity?
I’m so into what they do. I believe they do magnificent work all around the world…I’ll be hanging out with Marguerite Lhuillier, and we’re hoping to come up with simple, modular, cost-efficient furniture designs to go with the houses Habitat is going to build here.
How about the show? Are you looking forward to performing with Martin and Lea?
I’ve worked with both Martin and Lea in the past, but this is our first time together in one show. Putting us all together is dangerous because we’re all out of our minds! We’re all silly and just make each other laugh.
A lot of your songs like “Baby, Come to Me” are well-loved here in the Philippines.
You have great taste here! But no seriously, lots of Filipinos love ballads. And I happen to love singing them. I’m really blessed to have great songwriters who compose great ballads for me to sing—it’s the kind of music I really enjoy.
I love it when I come here and listen to the radio because I hear so many songs that sound like the stuff I’ve recorded…It’s such an honor.
What’s your message to your Filipino fans?
I love you more than life itself. The last time I was here was in September. It’s one of the most mind-blowing experiences I’ve ever had. And I’m tearing up talking about this because the fans were just beyond.
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