Jay R on ‘magical,’ musical chemistry with Kyla | Inquirer Entertainment

Jay R on ‘magical,’ musical chemistry with Kyla

/ 12:25 AM August 29, 2023



The decision to hold two separate press conferences for the tandem concert of Jay R and Kyla seemed excessive but might bear out in the end. After all, it allowed the two who are celebrating 20 years of collaborating musically to talk extensively about their longevity and future plans.

Kyla held hers several weeks ago, while Jay R, who had just arrived from the United States where he has been living with his family for over two years, had his earlier this week. The 42-year-old R&B prince wore a casual, palm leaf-printed top, matching shorts and a pair of high-cut sneakers, and a summer-weight scarf draped around his neck.


He seemed excited about the upcoming concert “Back in Time” scheduled on Sept. 2 at New Frontier Theater in Araneta City even as he was still mourning the death of his father, who passed away two weeks ago. Jay R recounted how he and his family had moved back to the United States during the pandemic to be with his ailing father.


“We were told he had only six months to live, but he managed to hang on for two more years, which we consider a blessing,” he said.

With the concert date nearing, he and Kyla have been practicing on their own and doing a lot of vocal exercises. They already know that they sound good together and have come up with a set list that consists of roughly 30 songs. “But some of them will be medleys,” he pointed out.

Mix of past and present

They will be sticking to what they are known for, mainly R&B tracks that have earned them a strong following and who dubbed them JayLa.

“Singing comes very naturally to us. We speak the same language and when we harmonize, we already know each other’s kulot,” he said.

Jay R would go on to use the term several more times that afternoon, which refers to the musical inflections and nuances that define their singing styles.

“After 20 years, there’s none of that awkwardness between us anymore. We’re both married with kids. We study our own stuff and then when we get together, we have this chemistry. It’s just magical.


“We’re taking the show to an exciting new level. Kyla and I really took time to curate the set list. It’s going to be a mix of nostalgia and contemporary tunes, but we’re also giving the audience what they want from us without being predictable.”


Jay R has come a long way since releasing his debut album, “Gameface” under Universal Records in 2003. That recording was certified platinum and contained the hit single “Bakit Pa Ba,” written by Vehnee Saturno.

“I was signed up pretty quickly, but was told that R&B was not popular in the Philippines,” he recounted. Instead of being put off by the feedback and altering his sound, Jay R held fast to what he liked and what he knew he did well.

“Now, a lot of local music is infused with R&B elements. I think the point here is that if you like what you’re doing, stick to it… you shouldn’t care about what other people say. No one has gone through your trials, your upbringing. It’s all about persistence.”

He has big plans beyond his reunion concert with Kyla, including launching a new album and embarking on a concert tour (“Twenty Up”) in the United States two weeks after the reunion concert. On Sept. 1—a day before their concert—he will release his comeback single, “Blessed,” on all digital music platforms worldwide. There are also plans to stage a “Back in Time” concert series, with Kyla of course.

“I’m still going a hundred miles an hour,” he quipped.

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“Back in Time: Kyla and Jay R The Reunion Concert” on Sept. 2 at New Frontier Theater is presented and produced by GNN Pop, and copresented by Cornerstone Entertainment. Tickets are available via Ticketnet Online and all Ticketnet outlets nationwide. INQ

TAGS: Entertainment, jay-r

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