LIFESTYLE | MUSIC

Power of One

Michelle Baltazar

A new album titled “One”, a cross-cultural collaboration of Sydney-based artists, brings the healing power of music to Typhoon Washi victims.

On Saturday (March 3), as Sydney plays host to the annual Mardi Gras festival, a group of artists and their supporters are celebrating a special night of their own – the launch of a new album inspired by a desire to help devastated communities in the Philippines.


The launch venue is modest: it’s a small hall that fits 60 people and located only a bus ride or brisk walk away from Central Station.

But what the album launch lacks in pomp, it makes up for in eloquence. The album is an ambitious undertaking with 15 artists singing original compositions across various genres by music producer Oliver “Ollie” Gadista, from the band Sweet Mojo.

Conscious of the clock ticking, Gadista composed the songs and recorded them with the artists within two weeks.

But rather than music tinged with sadness, most of the songs spoke overwhelmingly about hope and resilience: that love is the best antidote to life’s tragedies.

From songs like ‘Sunshine’ to ‘Never Change A Thing’, to ‘You Make My Day’ and ‘Blessed’, the album uplifting and life-affirming - the type you listen to in the car for a pick-me-up.

Those who know Gadista can sense his signature style and musical influences  – a mix of rhythm & blues (RnB) with slow rock and Original Pilipino Music (OPM) thrown in. The group song 'Love is What We Need' certainly brings all those components together.

The artists on board come from different walks of life and culture. Among them are multi-talented artists Cleo Diana and Brian Lorenz, both well-known in the Filipino-Australian community for their powerful vocals and stage presence.

While many of the artists are of Filipino heritage, Gadista also reached out to other musicians he has worked with in the past, including guitarist Matty Jay and crossover dancehall/hip-hop artist JMidas.

Like any grassroots project, the album came out of the blood, sweat and tears of a tireless team of volunteers.

Among them Bless Salonga, who had the mammoth task of coordinating everything, ably supported by Violi Calvert, Mitchell Badelles, Mon and Nilda Carpo, Jules Carpo, Menchie Maneze, Cita Hoersch and Avie Rocio-Zelko.

Community leaders also helped sell show tickets and CDs, including Cen Amores, Josie and Gerry Musa, Emma de Vera, Racquel Pellero and Tom Baena.

In media, The Filipino Australian founder Romy Cayabyab, Ang Kalatas founder Millie Marcial-Phillips and Sydney-Fil Press Group facilitator Jimmy Pimentel, and various community radio stations, promoted the cause.

Even Nenad Bach, New York-based musical legend, Mig Ayesa, West End-based theatrical performer, and Jim Paredes, pride of the Philippines and former APO Hiking Society band member now solo artist, also endorsed “One”.

Yes, the album galvanised a village of volunteers who called themselves Artists and Linked Friends in Action (ALFA).

Salonga said that ALFA aims to raise $5,000 – all of which will go towards rebuilding lives of Typhoon Washi victims. Proceeds will go towards buying school supplies, pots and pans, and other necessary amenities.

With less than 48 hours to go before the show starts, ALFA has, so far, raised $3,690, which includes CD and ticket sales. There is a second show to be held in a much bigger venue, P-Noy Lounge in Blacktown, in a couple of weeks, and Salonga hopes more funds will be raised then.

But even when Typhoon Washi becomes a distant memory and the next natural disaster to hit the Philippines dominate newspaper headlines, the artists and volunteers behind “One” can be proud of their contribution.

For one night only, in a small alley several blocks away from the revelry of the Mardi Gras parade, a multitude of voices can be heard, singing their way to the hearts of Filipinos across the seas, blessed by their music and compassion.

For more info on the artists and the album, go to http://onealbum.weebly.com.

What: Launch of "One", live performance of album artists
When: March 3, from 7.30pm
Where: Humanist House Hall, 10 Sheperd Street Chippendale
Tickets: $30, includes CD, nibbles and entertainment

What: Launch of "One", live performances
When: March 17, from 7.30pm
Where: P-Noy Lounge, Level 1 24-28 First Avenue, Blacktown
Tickets: $30, includes CD, nibbles and entertainment

An airline ticket to the Philippines along with other items will be raffled on the night. Tickets are available from Josie 0422 621 218, Nilda 0411 521 135 and Violi on 0408 227 794.

Photos from this article courtesy of 'One' Charity Facebook Images.

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