Martin Nievera recounts how he became back-up singer for Barry Manilow (FUNNY STORY!)

Martin Nievera recounts that moment he won as the overall champion of a state singing contest in California. "The memory of that whole competition was unbelievable! All I won was a trophy and I was so happy! I was sixteen or seventeen years old."


Martin Nievera became Martin Nievera not solely because of his dad Bert Nievera, a balladeer in the '60s who was also tagged as the Johnny Mathis of the Philippines.

Just like most singers, he also joined singing contests.

That's what he and his co-performers—Regine Velasquez, Erik Santos, and Angeline Quinto—at the upcoming Royals concert have one thing in common.

At the presscon for Royals on January 26, at the Luxent Hotel, Timog Avenue, Quezon City, Martin recounted that moment he decided he's going to pursue a singing career.

He related, “I also came from a singing contest just so you know...yung akin was only a four-day competition.

"It was in California, The California State Talent Competition, over four thousand contestants.

"Four days long, you had to win the first day to compete the second day to compete the third day.

"The third day was the championship, the fourth day is a championship of all the champions of the different categories.

"So I won the third day, then I won the overall grand champion, that was in 1981.”

Martin will never forget his sweet victory.

“It was a big moment in my life.

“That was when I knew I was gonna be a singer.

“Then the following year I became one of the chosen singers to sing back-up for Barry Manilow.

"And that was it, I said, 'Okay, I’m gonna be a singer.’”

PURE COMPETITION. That was an era when social media and text votes were not yet born.

He continued, "The best thing was, I was the only Filipino; now there are so many Filipinos.

"I sang 'The Greatest Love Of All,' but my name wasn’t Martin Nievera. My name was 1049.

"Can you imagine? I’m just trying to show you the contrast.

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"You have your make-up and your training and then the TV exposure, social network, I had nothing!

"Four days in a small hotel room waiting for my time, my time to compete.

"Imagine, over four thousand contestants, so every day I was on at 10:49 in the morning.

"Ten forty nine. 'Contestant number 1049!'

“That was me! Now you know my password,” Martin said in jest.

"The good thing was, I won, I was the overall… you can’t even look for it.

"I could be lying because it’s not even Googleable. It’s not Googleable.

"If you can find it, I wanna see. I’ve tried it.

"I’ve tried to look it up so I can have some sort of proof that we, the four of us, really have something in common.

"It was in Santa Clara, you know the Great America, right near Great America in San Jose.

"Not even a photo, well, the girl I was seeing then has all those photos.”

That ex-girlfriend was Martin's inspiration for the song "Holiday."

“But the memory of that whole competition was unbelievable!

“But you guys,” referring to Regine, Erik and Angeline, "are so lucky, you have the press, you have the media, I had none of the above.”

How much was his prize?

"All I won was a trophy, and I was so happy! I was sixteen or seventeen years old.” 

But he was not able to keep even the trophy.

"I have no idea, sa daming lipat-lipat."

Meanwhile, the Royals will stage its concert on February 13, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, and on February 14, at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City.


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