With Kuh Ledesma's very successful Valentine's Series, her open-air concert for the Pasig River, her Power of Two U.S. Tour and of course her monthly television special "AHKUSTIC CAFE", indeed, this year has been work-filled and very busy for Kuh. She says, 1997 is the year when a big on-going project finally culminates for me. It's a dream that I've been working on for the past years. A dream to see Filipino musical artistry finally recognized in the American Pop Music industry.
"I've spent the past three years commuting between home and the States, engrossed in the making of an album that is truly a collaboration between some of the best musicians and songwriters from the Philippines and the States. The result is "Precious", my album that will be launched come September. Filipino songwriters like Grace Nono (who wrote the title track) and Odette Quesada have made their contributions to "Precious", as have songwriters and producers Attala Zane Giles and Kevin Dorsey."
Kuh first impressed the two Americans when they heard her in Los Angeles. They became fast friends and together put up KZK Productions with Kuh as the main artist. The process of creating the album "Precious" was in Kuh's words, "The adventure of my life. I'd go home and look for great songs by Filipino songwriters, like Grace and Odette. And then in L.A. the guys would take these beautiful pieces of music and give them a new feel, a new sound. And if you listen to the album, I hope that you'll have the same impressions that I did of myself when I first heard the finished tracks. It's me -- but better produced!" she laughs.
Even the look of the album has a cutting edge feel to it. The album cover shows a provocative Kuh, dripping wet in an unbuttoned black shirt. Other photos show her luxuriating on a beach, holding a branch of coral to her face. It's glamorous and sexy, but very different from the gowned and bejeweled Kuh we usually see.
"Even the songs are different. They speak of love and yearning and loss and sadness, in ways that make us want to re-examine our feelings again. Take the title cut by Grace Nono. It's a woman's statement that tells her lover that he'd better love her well, because her love is precious. I think that all the songs speak in a very confident and self-assertive manner, even when they're talking about loneliness and loss. The whole philosophy behind the album is that everything in life -- even the downside -- is precious. Even the bad moments help us to be stronger, help us to appreciate the good times. Everything is precious to the making of our lives."
Of course, the album -- no matter how good -- has to be heard, and to reach a wider audience. After all, it is Kuh's dream for the album to succeed in the States.
"We need this album to succeed. And by we, I include the Filipino communities there in the States. We need to have our voice and our artistry heard and appreciated, especially as the Philippines comes into its own as a developing country. It will be a very fulfilling achievement to have the songs of "Precious" recognized all over America, as the work of a Filipina singer, as an album that may open more doors for other Filipino artists."
A visionary woman and a pro, Kuh has helped in the formulation of the marketing strategies for the album. "Know that for this album to succeed in the States, the Filipino communities have to like it first. The kind of success we want will not happen without the kind of massive and intense marketing effort that has made other artists so successful in this country. If the Filipino communities like it well enough to support it and tell her their friends about it then half the battle is won. Such a groundswell of support will be the catalyst that will make the American public stand up and take notice, just as it did the music of Latin American performers as Selena and Gloria Estefan. In the case of these two wonderful performers, the entire Latin American community sang the songs, danced to the music, they got the whole country worked up over the music. And so the general public sat up and took notice."
"In the case of 'Precious', I'm confident that the same thing can be done, but it will take a lot of work."
Which is why the Pop diva is flying again, to do a concert tour that will promote the album among the Filipinio communities. The tour is called 'Ako Ay Pilipino... Free, Proud, and Precious'.
"I'll be bringing back a lot of the standards that the audiences know, but I'll also be doing a lot of the songs from the album." The launching of the album here in Manila will follow, after the U.S. launching.
It's going to be a lot of work, but then the pop diva has never been afraid of hard work. Would that the result of the latest project -- live everything else she has done -- be blessed with a sweet and precious success.