Jamie Rivera: New year, New home

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The house, in a quiet Quezon City neighborhood, has this sparse but elegant-looking living room featuring two Barcelona chairs. Jamie's minimalist approach in decorating her home stems from her dislike for cluttered spaces. "Hindi kasi kami naniniwala [ng asawa ko] sa yong pupunuin mong masyado?" she says. "Ayoko ng ganoon. Hirap linisin, e." Adjacent to the living room is a grand f


Jamie Rivera's singing career has taken many forms over the last 20 years. She was a pop sensation in the 1980s. She voiced Kim's misery in the long-playing international musical, Ms. Saigon, in the ‘90s. At the start of the new millennium, she metamorphosed into a gospel-singing sweetheart bearing the title Inspirational Diva.

For 10 years now, Jamie (Mary Jane Mendoza in real life) has been married to JB Mendoza, a doctor of medicine who has turned builder-contractor. They have a nine-year-old daughter, Reine.

Singing has been Jamie's great love for as long as she can remember. She trained with the Metropolitan Theater Chorus in 1984. The following year, aiming for a solo career, she joined G.A. Yupangco's Yamaha Music Mate Girls, a talent search. She was one of the winners. Shortly after becoming a Music Mate Girl, Jamie toured the country and performed in concerts while finishing her economics degree at the University of Santo Tomas.

The first recording company that signed her up was OctoArts. "I was really lucky to be with them," Jamie says, "kasi peak nila ‘yon, e. So, maganda ‘yong naging handling sa akin ng Octo."

In 1990, she left for London to take over Lea Salonga's lead role in Ms. Saigon. Jamie played Kim until 1993.

Back in the country, Jamie did two bestselling pop albums, Once More (1997) and Feels So Right (1999), as well as a bestselling Christmas album, Sa Araw ng Pasko, (1998), under Star Records.

The year 2000 was the time she was given the label Inspirational Diva. It was the when she was tasked to sing "The Jubilee Song" in celebration of the Catholic Church's jubilee year. From that time on, she has become primarily involved in church music.

Jamie loves the title, but admits, too, that it limits both her repertoire and her income.

"Hindi mo naman matatanggal na ‘yon, e," she says of her tag. "Saka ayoko ding tanggalin. Kaya lang, we're trying to deviate from it a little because apektado ‘yong bookings ko. Akala ng mga tao, puro ganoon lang ang kinakanta ko, na hindi na ako kumakanta ng pop.

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"So, ang bookings ko puro fund-raising, puro simbahan, puro events for a cause, puro ganoon. E, siyempre, gusto ko rin ng mga corporate events... Siyempre kailangan natin ‘yon, di ba? Image is one thing, but I have to eat, di ba?"

That's why the Inspirational Diva has come up with a new album, Jamie Rivera at Her Best, a compilation of her past hits. "All the songs are rearranged," she explains. The album includes hit songs such as "I've Fallen for You," "Mahal Naman Kita," and "People Alone."


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