Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Patti Austin in town for fundraising concerts


by Walden Sadiri M. Belen
December 28, 2013

She has visited the Philippines several times in the past since the ’80s but Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Patti Austin never get tired coming over to perform for her Pinoy fans. The Philippine audience has a special place in her heart, she said in an email interview, because she finds them “lovable, loving and enthusiastic.”

“If they love you, it means they know how to sing every song you’ve ever recorded and they can and will sing them on stage if you ask them to. If the Philippine audience loves you, they’ll love you forever. So every time I could hardly wait to get to Manila to experience this kind of love again.”

This time around Patti is performing for a good cause – to help raise funds for victims of super-typhoon “Yolanda,” which left countless Filipinos in Western Visayas homeless. Because of this, Patti will be singing gratis et amore upon the invitation of Ms. Roni Tapia-Merk, the promoter/producer of Patti’s dinner concert “Brand New Day” to be held on Dec. 29 at the Solaire Resort & Casino.

As special guests, “Brand New Day” will feature Ms. Lea Salonga and Martin Nievera, with whom Patti said she’s very excited to be working again; as well as Richard Merk and with other local RnB and jazz artists. Front act is the Poppin’ Jazz led by Emcy Corteza. Patti will also be singing with the 30-member Tala Choir.

During the concert, pre-recorded messages from international singers and actors will be shown on the large screens in Solaire’s Grand Ballroom.

“Brand New Day” is presented by Solaire Resort & Casino, Patti Austin, Barry Oms, Laurelmedia Company in association with Baruch Gayton Entertainment, Philippine Airlines, PLDT Fibr, Department of Tourism, Radio High 105.9 and Energy FM.

On Dec. 31, Patti will topbill “One Heart One Voice,” a New Year concert, at Fairmont Raffles Hotel in Makati City. The New Year’s Eve countdown will have the Sticky Band led by Rudy Lozano, Richard Merk, Jacqui Magno and Emcy Corteza as performers.

Surviving StrifeWith Patti coming over to help raise funds for victims of calamities, she was asked if she ever encountered or experienced natural or man-made calamities. She said yes, “I have endured quite a few calamities in the US. The first that comes to my mind is the Kennedy assassination. I was 13 then and I was hanging decorations in my junior high school auditorium when someone ran in and said ‘the president has been shot!’ We said it’s not funny and for her to stop joking. But we realized later that she wasn’t. When I went home, I found my mom crying.
We cried together for a while.”Patti recalled that the next five years had seen other famous persons murdered in the US, among them Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.As to natural calamities, “I have endured Mother Nature’s wrath too,” Patti said. “The first was in 1994, when Northridge, California was hit by an earthquake 6.7 on the Richter Scale, I came from New York where I reside and had just gotten into my room a couple of hours when the earthquake happened. I experienced another earthquake in 1996, this time in Garrison, New York.”And then 9/11 happened. Patti said she was invited to perform at Madison Square Garden in New York on the 30th anniversary (in show business) of Michael Jackson on Sept. 10. After that, Patti wanted to go back home to San Francisco where she was residing at the time the following day. But when she called up the producer David Guest to tell him that she had made reservations to go home on the morning of Sept. 11 on Flight 93, David asked her to come on the Sept. 7 show instead. He understood Patti’s desire not to be away from her mother for a long time even though she had a great caregiver from the Philippines (her mom had suffered a stroke a month and a half before 9/11).

So when 9/11 happened, Patti was home watching the tragic event on television with her mother. Flight 93 crashed and she shuddered to recall that was supposed to be on that flight.

It’s no wonder Patti feels a lot of compassion for calamity sufferers because she has experienced and endured the pain of being in the middle of it all.

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