Julie Anne San Jose was still a kid when she pursued her love for music.
A natural singer, Julie Anne was 12 when she entered Popstar Kids, a reality talent competition of GMA-7's defunct QTV, which aired in 2005.
She lost, but the young Julie Anne could not be stopped.
She harnessed her God-given skills by joining various workshops in singing, dancing, acting, and hosting.
And look at her now.
At 25, Julie Anne San Jose is enjoying her fame as Asia's Pop Sweetheart.
She is always up to something, defining her ground as "steady" and "evolving."
She says, "I'm not gonna say 'so far so good' because parang cliché siya, but yeah, steady and evolving because I’m growing older.
"And I'm actually doing things like new stuff - keep creating new music and trying out different things not only sa career but you know other aspects of my career."
But at the moment, she is busy preparing for her one-of-a-kind concert titled Julie Sings the Divas on July 20, at The Theater at Solaire.
Her special guests are the Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda, the UP Concert Chorus, and the UP Arco String Orchestra.
And she is beyond thankful for the support of her mentors, including maestro Danny Tan and a vocal coach she calls Ms. J.
JULIE ANNE'S NEXT MOVE
Far from her usual OPM, RnB type of shows, her latest concert will be different this time.
Julie Anne says, "The past concerts na ginawa ko, parang medyo RnB, pop, rock, lahat.
"There's dancing and everything, played instruments and all, ganyan.
"And that way, I kind of established myself na rin na okay, I can do, I can sing, or like I can dance, I can play instruments.
"Dun siguro like nakita na rin ng mga tao kung ano yung mga kaya kong gawin, or like my skills, my capabilities.
"And this time, it's gonna be a different one kasi it's not my usual genre.
"I can do birit songs, but I know to myself that I'm not really like a super biritera.
"I can do birit songs and it's something also new to me na magkakaroon ako ng concert na puro birit."
She describes her concert Julie Sings the Divas as "medyo laid-back… trying to bring out the, you know, the mature Julie I guess."
Indeed, Julie Anne has grown into her own woman.
She says, "Actually yung idea nito, it was presented to me two months ago.
"It was presented to me by Sir Danny Tan, he's one of my mentors and he's also arranging the whole concert.
"He's also our musical director and when he actually presented the idea to us, GMA also decided to co-produce the concert.
"Dito siguro ipapakita na, 'Uy, grown na si Julie. Woman na siya.'
"It's about embracing womanhood. Sobrang exciting and the same time thrilling.
"First time ko siyang gagawin, I mean I haven't really done anything like this before.
"Sinabihan ako na, 'O Julie, it's time for you to you know step up your game and step into a new level when it comes to you know, like your craft.
"So nakakakaba, nakaka-excite at the same time kasi it's gonna be my first time performing with an orchestra sa isang concert."
Her repertoire—the birit songs—requires a technique in singing that entails high energy, almost like yelling.
Although Julie Anne accepts the challenge of trying out a new vocal range in her concert, she will improvise.
She explains, "Ang birit kasi very crucial siya unless 'yung range mo andun na.
"So ako, I'm gonna try to do a different version of it, as much as possible not to make gaya of the original singer.
“Obviously, mahirap talaga silang pantayan; they're divas."
In her concert, Julie Anne will belt out the timeless classics of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Yolanda Adams, and Vanessa Williams.
She will lend her own versions to their songs.
The Kapuso star says, "As an artist or as a singer, gusto ko na magkaroon ako ng sarili kong rendition ng mga songs nila na of course makikita nila sa concert."
JULIE ANNE'S METAMORPHOSIS
She considers the year 2010 as a breakthrough year, "an era of metamorphosis."
"This was the time that I decided to do solo… and that was the time na nag-launch ako ng first album," she says.
Prior to doing solo stints, Julie Anne was once a member of Sugarpop, with Popstar Kids co-finalists Pocholo Bismonte, Renzo Almario, Vanessa Rangadhol, and Rita Danela, who emerged the winner.
When SOP ended in 2010, she joined its replacement show Party Pilipinas as a solo artist.
In August 2012, she released her eponymous debut album, Julie Anne San Jose, which received numerous awards and is now a certified Diamond Record awardee.
Looking back, Julie Anne muses, "I can say that I've been through a lot, I've been through ups and downs also.
"It's not just puro good things, there's bad things also, I'm not saying that it's super super bad things in a negative way.
"But you know, parang there were challenges in my life that I had to go through when it comes to my career. Transformation, I guess. I was trying to figure out pa kung saang track ako papunta, what I wanted to do. Yung 2010 ko was an era of metamorphosis for me, like metamorphosis in a way na from a teeny bopper to a young lady."
JULIE ANNE'S COMMITMENT
Like any other celebrity, she had had her share of career doubts and struggles.
She opens up, "There was a point in my life na gusto ko na talagang mag-quit kasi parang hindi ko na alam anong nangyayari.
"I don't know what's going on already, like may pupuntahan ba ako, ganyan, ganyan.
"But I decided to 'kaya iyan, kaya iyan,' palaging 'kaya iyan.'
"With the help of my family, with the help of my friends, my supporters, parang walang room for me to give up because I'm a very patient person.
"I don't really give up except or like unless na lang if I have to sacrifice one thing for another.
"Ganon naman kasi yun, e, it's how you're able to weigh things, kung ano ba yung mas priority mo.
"Ano ba yung mas gusto mo, what you have to do, what you don't want to do, di ba?
"It's really the passion and I guess that's one of the things na made-describe ko sa sarili ko, I'm a really career-driven person. It all comes from passion and as long as you like what you do, you love what you do, nagba-branch out na yan to so many things."
Showbiz is an imperfect world, and Julie Ann thrives in it.
In her almost 12 years in the industry she has learned to avoid the pitfalls of fame and taken to heart the two biggest lessons it teaches:
(1) Always keep your feet on the ground no matter what.
(2) Always be grateful.
She affirms, "Palagi kang lumingon sa sarili mong pinanggalingan, where you came from, that's the most important thing.
"And huwag mong kalimutan yung mga taong andiyan for you to support you, at yung mga nagmamahal sayo kasi sila yung totoo at sila yung nagsisilbing haligi kung bakit ka nandiyan.
”And then siyempre, pasasalamat kay Lord sa lahat ng blessings, sa lahat ng opportunities na binibigay, kahit minsan...
"Parang minsan kasi, may mga tanong ang mga tao, 'Bakit nangyayari ito? Ganyan ganyan.'
"May mga challenges na dumadating, parang hindi mo na kaya, pero hindi, kaya mo. Kasi hindi ka naman bibigyan ni Lord ng hindi mo kayang lagpasan."
And drawing from her own experience, Julie reminds, "Also, hindi mo makukuha ang isang bagay kung hindi mo paghihirapan.
"So kailangan mong paghirapan lahat ng ginagawa mo.
"It doesn't matter kung gaano kaliit or gaano kalaki, just work really hard for it, sobra.
"Always give your best, always give your hundred percent.
"If you're fully committed to one thing, always give your hundred, not half-baked."
And being what she is, the multi-faceted GMA-7 artist is onto doing something new.
With an eye to the future, she says, "I also like being in a different field as well, like I want to learn more about acting, I want to learn more about hosting…"
Q & A WITH JULIE ANNE SAN JOSE
PEP.ph: What is your most favorite city?
Julie Anne: Dalawa.
Quezon City, because it's where I was born, dito ako pinanganak, dito lahat nangyari, dito ko nagtrabaho, dito ako lumaki, dito ako nag-aral.
New York, whenever I go there, sobrang iba yung feeling for me. I always feel stoked whenever I go to New York, iba yung feeling.
PEP.ph: What excites you the most?
Julie Anne: Singing, singing kasi feeling ko kulang na lang, yung mga salita ko, pa-kanta na.
PEP.ph: What is your most expensive purchase or your biggest splurge?
Julie Anne: My house, house-and-lot, [in] Fairview.
PEP.ph: What is your spirit animal?
Julie Anne: Lion… I don't know, whenever I see a lion, I just feel automatically empowered.
And I feel stronger, parang napaka-empowering kasi ng lion, king of the jungle.
PEP.ph: Nickname you hated the most when you were a child
Julie Anne: They used to call me Le-anne, Japs, Juls, Julie Anne, parang wala.
SHOOT PRODUCERS: James Patrick Anarcon and Rommel Llanes
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jeremiah Idanan
PHOTOGRAPHER: Bolichie Suzara
VIDEO PRODUCERS: Jham Mariano, Mart Francisco
INTERVIEW BY: James Patrick Anarcon
Special Thanks to Yani Cardino & Kyla Nicole Paler of GMA Corporate Communications; GMA Artist Center