Every once in a while, I get to record very talented children for my work as an advertising music composer, either as singers or as voice talents for certain products. And there's also the rare privilege of working with true Pinoy pop music royalty. Luckily, both of these honors came to my doorstep (or should I say desktop!) one day late last year when—for a hamburger chain commercial—I got to record Sharon Cuneta's adorable and mega-talented daughter Frankie!
In case you haven't seen the ad, it shows Frankie hand in hand with her Mom, walking into one of the restaurants. Mother and daughter are all smiles, and all the while Frankie is singing inwardly (no lip synching) about how she loves going to the place because her Mom loves being there. It's a touching scene, and from what I understand she was absolutely at ease with acting out her part for such a young girl. But this didn't surprise me much because days before the shoot, I had recorded her singing the song in the studio, and she was absolutely brilliant.
But let me backtrack a bit. I had worked with Ate Sharon before on several projects, most notably the "Biyahe Tayo" song which I co-wrote for the Department of Tourism, and she has always been the very picture of professionalism. She's friendly, engaging, and extremely focused in the studio, having learned all of the lyrics and melodies by heart prior to recording. Thus, she and I focus primarily on getting the best performances out of only several takes—no wasted time listening and warming up to the song for the first time. Ang sarap katrabaho!
I hate to use "old school" to describe such a vibrant Megastar, but she obviously paid her dues recording to 2-inch tape back when recording was such an extremely expensive endeavor (before the advent of computerized recording), and the habits of treating any studio time as sacred have obviously stayed with her through the years.
Having said that, I had prepared myself mentally for the same level of perfectionism from Sharon as a vocal coach for her daughter. I expected to spend a couple of hours in the control room, with both Frankie and her mom in the vocal booth going over lines, repeating certain difficult phrases over and over. Frankie being all of 6 years of age (!), I fully expected her to be playful but easily distracted and tough to coach by anyone other than her very loving Mom. Boy, was I wrong!
As soon as Frankie arrived she was ready and roaring to go! We went over the song with just my guitar, and I was floored with how well she knew the song already! I recorded her for a little under an hour, but it was about 15 minutes of work and 45 minutes of praising her no end. Apart from the occasional encouraging remark, Sharon had little or no part in the actual recording, although I'm sure they did their prior practicing together—and if the end result is any indication—with Sharon's usual meticulousness.
The client was ecstatic, I had a blast, and Frankie even got to bring home a CD of her wonderful work to her dad, which thrilled her no end! [Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan is the father of Frankie, whose real name is Simone Francesca Emmanuelle.]
Producing music for commercials is a challenging, often thankless endeavor. Thanks to Ate Sharon and her precious Frankie, I felt like a king for a day, if only to humbly witness greatness at work with my music.