David Foster: I still believe in Charice
KUALA LUMPUR—Finding and developing a potential Asian superstar has long been on the bucket list of the acclaimed musician-record producer David Foster.
He thought he came “very close” to fulfilling it a couple of years ago with Charice, until a slew of personal problems thwarted the then teenage sensation’s promising career.
It’s no big secret, Foster said, that Charice—who came out as a lesbian two years ago—is “with a woman and not a man.” He already knew that the young singer was struggling with her sexual orientation while they were on tour in 2009, and watching it, the composer related, was “painful.”
“I really felt bad for her that she was struggling with an issue that shouldn’t be an issue… We’ve seen it with the likes of Caitlyn Jenner coming out,” he told Southeast Asian journalists at his recent launch here, as AirAsia’s new global ambassador.
But despite everything, he remains a staunch admirer of Charice’s exceptional talent. And as she tries to get right back on track, Foster said he hoped to be there and help her goddaughter.
“Charice has been coming into terms with herself, overcoming her issues. And when she does, we will hit it with her again. Because I believe in her,” said Foster, who took the now 22-year-old music artist under his wings and produced her self-titled international album that was released in 2010.
After losing communication about four years ago, the two reunited last April to tape a song number that was aired in the finals of the recently concluded first season of “Asia’s Got Talent,” in which Foster served as a judge. It’s in the same show that he met yet another Filipino singer he has taken interest in: Gerphil Flores.
“She was amazing, like a flower who just blossomed,” he said of the 24-year-old classical crossover singer, who captured the hearts of fans all over with her stunning rendition of “The Impossible Dream.”
Both Charice and Flores are set to share the stage with Foster in the Manila stop of “The Hitman: David Foster and Friends” Asian concert tour on Aug. 18 at Smart Araneta Coliseum. Also in the lineup are Boyz II Men, Natalie Cole, Ruben Studdard and Mark Mabasa.
As the face of AirAsia, Foster will promote the low-cost airline’s premium product range, which includes the Premium Flex service and the Premium Flatbed Seats. If there’s anything that comes close to his love for music, it’s his fascination with aircraft.
“I’ve loved music and aviation all my life. I’m an airplane freak; I can name the models of planes currently being used right now, whether private or commercial!” said Foster, who’s a longtime friend of Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group chief executive officer and former Warner Music Southeast Asia vice president.
More than a mere business endorsement, Foster said he was looking forward to using this new partnership as a platform to continue his pursuit for the next breakout Asian music act.
“There’s a wealth of talent here in this region, billions of people. So, we’re bound to find stars,” said the 16-time Grammy Award winning musician. “I hope this hookup helps us do that.”
Asked what particular quality he looks for in an artist, Foster’s reply was simple, yet telling: “I’m drawn to people who can sing.”
“There are people who have hit records, but are not great singers. Britney Spears comes to mind. She’s amazing and has great hits. I just wouldn’t know what to do with her since she isn’t a great singer,” he said.
“I’m drawn to the voices of singers like Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Barbra Streisand, Beyoncé and Celine Dion,” added the Canadian artist, dubbed as the “Hitman.” “That’s sort of where I hone my skills.”
Meanwhile, Fernandes, who said that his passion for music hasn’t waned one bit despite shifting to the aviation industry, described the Philippines as being in the forefront of music in Southeast Asia.
“It’s because of your grasp of the English language. And music is in your blood,” he told Filipino reporters on the sidelines.
And like Foster, his friend of 25 years, Fernandes said that he’s “all about unearthing and giving chances to new talents,” especially the young, up-and-coming ones. “I see lots of great bands and acts who can cross over and break into the international scene. We’ll look everywhere,” he said, adding that Foster is the man to do just that.
“David has that gift of taking in something raw and turning it into a hit,” Fernandes said.
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