Is This My Calling? : Church Cantor
I grew up in the Philippines and I started singing professionally at the young age of 14. At first, I was a soloist, then I joined a band with two other singers, ~somewhat like the dream girls in the mid-80s.
And then I went back singing solo in various hotel lounges, my repertoire consisted of standard songs. I just had a pianist to accompany me.
While I was doing my gig at the Hyatt Hotel in Manila, a booking agent approached me and offered me a 6-month contract to open the lounge at The Hilton Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.
I was only 16 years old. After finishing that commitment, I went back to Manila and entered show business.
A year later I became a recording artist. My first record was released in 1986 under Octo Arts Record Label in the Philippines- as the first 12” extended dance remix single. It was called “Kailan” – meaning “When”. It was a vinyl record! It’s so cool to show my kids now that everything is digital.
In the mid-’90s, I discovered a love for writing songs and decided to create an album that I recorded in New York. I brought the album back to the Philippines and recorded a couple of revival OPM (original Pilipino songs) and released the CD album “I Need You Back” under Viva Records in 1997.
In 2007, I wrote more songs and compiled them with some of my producer’s (Archie Dairocas) compositions.
I then supported the album with a music video that was shot in New York City.
The album entitled “Cool” was picked up by Sony-BMG Philippines for distribution.
Now, let’s rewind….. I belong to a family of singers.
My mother, Annie Brazil was the “Queen of Jazz”, while my brother Richard Merk is the “Prince of Jazz” in the Philippines.
So that being said, music is in my genes.
I have been living in the United States for 33 years now, and I’ve had my fair share of singing stints here, there, and everywhere!
I’ve sung in concerts, I’ve done commercial jingles, tours, and overall- my talent has given me the opportunity to entertain people not only in the U.S., but in Asia, and in Europe as well.
I cannot ask for anything more! I have gained a lot of experience doing what I love.
So this story brings me to where I am now. Life changes, therefore my choices as well.
The decision to where my time and energy will be devoted to – has a lot to do with my family life. And family comes first!
I have retired from accepting singing engagements that require a big production on my part.
This does not mean that I have completely stopped singing. The love I have for music is part of my being.
But I am in a different stage in my life. I love singing to release stress. I love singing because it is able to change my mood.
It’s therapeutic and it’s part of my emotional and mental health.
So here I am….. My latest experience in the world of music… A Church Cantor!
After all these years of declining invitations to be a Church ⛪️ Cantor …..I finally said YES!
I myself was surprised. I just said one day, why not?
Let me try to confront fear. Now why fear? I’m a professional. I did this for a living. Singing in the church should be a breeze. But you see, I don’t read music notes. And that was the hurdle for me.
I explained to the musical director of our church, and he assured me that he will give me enough time to study songs from the hymnal book.
Just to share with you how I study the songs given to me, I go on YouTube and listen to them. Some of it I’m familiar with hearing during mass. And some are easy, some are challenging.
Can I just add that as I’m listening to these songs, I feel at peace. I feel like – I’m not only praising but praying at the same time.
To make this long story short 😊
I did it! So far I have done 2 church masses.
What a glorious feeling! Is this my calling??
I need to open my heart to doors that are being knocked on. Saying yes instead of no. Embracing change and new challenges.
I know that my mother in Heaven is looking down on me, and very pleased. I know God is directing my path.
I feel so good to be able to volunteer my time and share my God-given voice with our church. 🙏🏻
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