Bimbo Cerrudo Finds His Niche

Bimbo Cerrudo Finds His Niche
by Oliver Pulumbarit
January 15, 2007

SINGER Bimbo Cerrudo has just finished a 20-show concert series at the Teatrino Theater in Greenhills titled “Cerrudo: Classico… Classic Ko.” The shows have been such a hit since July that there are scheduled repeats in Australia this month, and a planned provincial tour this summer.

Cerrudo enthused that the series is different from the more contemporary, radio-staple format he’s done in the past. He says he’s reinvented himself for a different, more appreciative, audience.
“My forte is the classics,” he says. “I’m back to the old songs. I sing not only the songs that are acknowledged classics; I also get to perform those that I believe are potential classics. This is where I’m gonna stay.”

Cerrudo has done different things throughout his long show biz career. He released a pop album in 1992, when he was best known as a balladeer. He has appeared in about 25 plays in the last two decades, too, but while he’s an established and respected artist in those fields, he admitted that he’s had bleak and rocky periods.

“I started out when I was about 20 years old, in 1985. Now I’m 41 and having the time of my life, still singing. I’ve been doing theater on and off. In a nutshell, my career has gone up and down, but in the past year and a half, I’ve had some shift of consciousness. I know my niche now, finally.

Please elaborate on this “shift of consciousness” and your niche. It’s using this gift for the benefit of the less-privileged. So I prefer singing for groups that raise funds, to be able to help out. This series has really helped out through different foundations. My singing now is kind of a crossover between classic and pop. I’m smack in the middle. We’re talking timeless, very old Italian and Spanish songs given a twist. Sadly, so many people of our generation have overlooked and forgotten them. But other people, apparently the middle-aged market, the older crowd, see something refreshing in it.

They appreciate the music of Burt Bacharach, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, whose songs I also sing. I perform with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, so it makes a whole lot of difference. Many of them have seen the show five or six times; they keep coming back and they bring their amigos and amigas.

What made you pursue this style? I was not consistent. I was keeping my head above water. I’d go pop, and then I’d go acting. Sabi ko, “I’m doing so many things. I should focus on one job muna.” I woke up one day and asked myself, “Why is it that, when I sing all of these standards and Italian classics, they all love me and pay me well; but when I sing pop, wala, hindi ako pinapansin?” I thought, God is telling me something.

Was it an easy shift? I went back to what I really trained for under voice teacher Irma Potenciano for six years in UST (University of Santo Tomas). That was my formal education, vocal training, from 1983 to 1989. I sang for her birthday recently. She used to tell me, “Tigilan mo ‘yang pop.” Now, when I look back, I realize that all this time pala, she’s been right.
Since I went back to all this, so many doors have opened. Let’s put it this way, I’m one of the few people who work in this genre locally. And the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, we have fun. Singing isn’t all about making money; it’s also about fun.

Have you noticed that same realization in other singers? I’ve seen a lot of artists who haven’t found their niche. It’s a process. It requires a certain frame of mind to go past the illusions. There were times when I was frustrated. I was earning, but not so well. Maybe the universe was confused with me, too. Back then, I was just singing to keep my head above water, just to live. Now I’m doing it for fun, and the rewards have been tremendous. I no longer believe in the words “hard work.” I believe in “joyful work,” “easy work.” When you say “you work hard for the money,” you’re coming from a position of “need.” If you think something is hard, the universe will make it hard.

You seem spiritually attuned, content. That’s the consciousness I’m in now. I believe in love, joy. I don’t believe in fear. I would like to think that I’m more ecumenical now, because I hate divisions that fuel egos, wars and so much fear in God. I’m past these. I guess the Philippines is not really ready for a one-God, one-people movement. I don’t know. Let it begin with me; I will live my life without judging [others], and see God in everybody. It’s been very joyful.

Has raising your own family given you a different perspective? Yes. My wife Reena manages me now, and we are reaping rewards that we thought we should have reaped a long time ago. But it had to happen this time, when I’m really ready. If this had happened before, I would have probably fallen back.

Does your son want to be a performer someday, like you? I don’t think so. I think he wants to be a lawyer. He always goes between people and negotiates. He’s like that.

What disciplines have you learned from acting and singing in plays? To always perform as though it were my last performance. No more “I wish I did this or that.” To perform for the last person seated in the last row of the theater just as well as for the person seated right in front of me.

What do you consider as career highlights, prior to your work now? Wala. I’ve done so many stage productions where I played the lead, but at the end of the day, I would not bask in whatever praise. There’s so much room for improvement. I know I can do a lot more.

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