If singing karaoke is your idea of a good time, then you’ve probably tried your hand at belting out a Whitney Houston classic. Or at least, you know someone who has.
And if you’ve ever befriended a Filipino before then you must also know that singing is as crucial as breathing.
In fact, Filipinos are lovingly teased as a people who see the whole world as their stage. They sing their hearts out whenever they get the chance: in their bedrooms, at parties, and even in malls.
Filipinos also don’t just hum along or pick the easiest songs. They either go big or go home.
Take Zendee, a seemingly typical mall goer who just happened to chance upon a karaoke machine at SM Megamall in Ortigas.
The young girl, sporting a Superman tee, can be seen casually approaching the machine.
Her pick? “I Will Always Love You”, a song that happens to be one of the world’s hardest songs to ace.
The track was written and originally recorded in 1973 by American singer, songwriter, and actress Dolly Parton. It immediately became a success and reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice.
Then came another award-winning singer and actress who recorded her own version of the song.
Whitney Houston took the already-famous single and turned it into yet another unforgettable masterpiece for the 1992 film, “The Bodyguard”. Her version spent a record-breaking 14 weeks on the number one spot at the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
And then you have Zendee Rose Japitana Tenerefe, Philippines’ very own.
As the lyrics appeared onscreen, Zendee began to sing.
And when she did, she took everyone by surprise.
What seemed like just another person attempting to enjoy the public karaoke machine turned out to be a powerhouse singer whose voice caused everyone to stop and stare in awe.
The talented singer’s flawless version of the song was uploaded to YouTube back in 2012, earning her the nickname “random girl”. Prior to her discovery online and internationally, Zendee was already a regular participant in singing competitions.
But it was an invite to appear on The Ellen Show that ended her anonymity and presented her the opportunity to make an international debut – which she happily took.
A slew of great things followed her television appearance.
She went on to sign with record label Warner Music Philippines and gained an influx of followers who wanted to track her incredible journey.
Not only that, Zendee was also given the chance to meet Jason Mraz and appear as the opening act in one of his concerts!
It can be quite challenging to make a name for one’s self in the music industry, especially with comparisons being made left and right. In fact, Zendee was always being compared to Mariah Carey because of how flawlessly she could hit high notes. While it’s definitely a compliment to be likened to a singer as amazing as Mariah Carey, nothing beats being known for something that’s uniquely yours.
In Zendee’s case, it’s more than just her larger than life talent. It’s her passion and perseverance that makes her stand out. Before she came out with her debut album in 2013, Zendee was already trying to break into the music scene by auditioning for talent shows like The X Factor Philippines.
She may have been shot down more times than she can count but Zendee simply refused to give up.
Zendee’s trip to the mall ended up with her dreams slowly unfolding in front of her, for the entire world to witness – proof that amazing things happen if you choose to keep going.
There really is truth behind the saying “treasure is often found in the most unlikely places.”
Watch the humble beginning of this talented Filipina who was definitely relentless in pursuing her passion as a singer.
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