It may sound odd that singing icon Basil Valdez, among the most distinctive voices in the history of recorded Filipino music, honed his talent mimicking others. He used to be a cover band vocalist.
“Gusto ko lang kumanta. I even hardly listen to myself,” said Basil while promoting a Valentine show with his longtime-friend and pioneering diva Kuh Ledesma, “When people started telling me na kakaiba ang boses ko, I realized I have a gift.”
For good reason, he doesn’t really listen to himself and to other types of music save for his preference. “Hindi ako nakikinig para may sarili akong bitaw ng salita at musika kapag kumanta na ako,” he argued.
That must have worked out considering how the public took to heart his way of singing and the songs he sang. For the latter, it mattered that he met the right people at the right time, enabling him to popularize 25 of the late George Canseco’s compositions, beginning with “Ngayon At Kailanman.”
“I wanted to leave for Belgium to finish my masters in Philosophy na kinuha ko sa Ateneo. Pero itinaon na magkakilala kami ni George,” shared the 67-year-old balladeer, “Pinuntahan nila ako ni Vic Del Rosario sa Philippine Plaza at sinabi nya na may ipapakanta daw s’ya sa akin. Dahil doon naiba ang takbo ng buhay ko.”
Canseco produced Basil’s first album that also includes “Hanggang Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan” and “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo.” As if having Canseco is not enough, he had other fateful encounters that solidified his status.
While vacationing in Baguio he heard a friend-nun hummed the tune to “Hindi Kita Malilimutan.” Curious, he discovered it was written by a high school class in Ateneo de Manila led by Manoling Francisco. He related, “I have been blessed to be given the chance to record it. Kaya I give proper class credit when I do that song.”
In 1983, or six years since he started recording, Basil’s grade school classmate Gerry Paraiso suggested he sing something he wrote for his wife, called “You.” It was a brave move because at that point he had not scored a hit with English lyrics.
“I acknowledge that anything comes from the Lord,” Basil expressed, “I want to make my concerts very personal and spiritually inspiring to my audience.”
Come his spot at Kuh’s dinner show My Unforgettable Valentine scheduled 6:00 p.m. on Valentine’s Day at the ballroom of Dusit Thani Makati, Basil will sing his classics and showcase chemistry with Kuh whom he has performed with several times, including a tour of the US in 2006.
“Sanay na kami ni Kuh sa isa’t isa,” he noted. “Mas lumawak pa ang pag-iisip nya because of her relationship with the Lord.”
He hopes to record a song with Kuh “one of these days.”
“Hanggang meron akong boses at may gusto makinig sa akin, I’ll keep on singing,” he promised with a grin almost as remarkable as his vocals.