Last April 3rd, hundreds of people gathered at the Newport Performing Arts Theater to bear witness to the celebration of one of the most remarkable OPM artists of our time: the one and only Queen of Soul, Jaya.
The anniversary concert titled "Jaya At Her Finest," celebrates three decades of music in the singer's career, showcasing Jaya at her absolute best while singing the songs that shaped her career.
To start off the evening, she let two aspiring artists take the stage: acoustic artist, Cyra, and young vocalist, Zephanie.
After their wonderful performances, the energy in the NPAT suddenly turned electric in the dimming of the house lights. The stage came to life in a huge display of light and color as Jaya opened the night with a unique rendition of her original song "Sometimes You Just Know."
After that high energy opening number, Jaya welcomed her guests to her celebration of sharing stories through music, all the while doing a quick costume change right onstage into a fabulous fuschia number.
Right as she changed into her new outfit, she took us back to the very first single that she recorded when she was 19, making her the very first Filipina to make it to the Billboard charts. Here's a snippet of her performance of dance hit "If You Leave Me Now."
The rest of the evening continued with some of the best vocal performances by Jaya to date, which included a "buwis buhay medley" of Whitney Houston's greatest hits.
What made the celebration even more special was the roster of special guests for the evening. First to join Jaya onstage was Asia's Queen of Song, the legendary Ms. Pilita Corrales, where they both reminisced about how Jaya first began her career here in the Philippines singing at the Folk Arts Theater. After their nostalgic recollection, the two legends performed a fun medley of some Spice Girls hits.
The next special guest was the Queen of R&B, Kyla, who sang a special duet of Anita Baker's "Sweet Love." Following that performance was the King of R&B, Jay-R, whoe sang a duet of James Ingram's "How Do We Keep the Music Playing?" Finally, all three of them joined together to sing "I'll Always Stay In Love This Way" by Baron Barber.
Even more special guests showed up later in the show, such as Concert King, Martin Nievera, who sang "Baby Come Back to Me," by James Ingram, Soul Supreme, KZ Tandingan, who joined Jaya on Nina Simone's "Feeling Good," as well as husband and wife power duo, Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, who joined Jaya in a performance remeniscent of their days back on noon-time variety show S.O.P.
Jaya continued the celebration with some disco vibes as she performed a mashup of 90's hits "I've Got the Power," "Deeper Love," and "Show Me Love," all the while showing off her killer dance moves.
She also took that time to sing her latest single, "Kasalanan Ko Ba?" written by Yeng Constantino, further cementing her status as the Queen of Soul who broke everyone's hearts.
But it probably would not have been a Jaya concert if she didn't sing this particular song:
That's right, when the opening chords of "Wala Na Bang Pag-Ibig?" started playing, the crowd errupted in loud cheers and applause.
At this point of the show, Jaya paid tribute to the time she and her late mother, Elizabeth Ramsey spent their days performing in different showbands in the US. She first started with some of the repertoire that they built, with hits such as "Through the Fire" by Chaka Khan and "Better Days" by Dianne Reeves.
Even from the very beginning of the show, Jaya would mention her mother's influence on her and the struggles that they overcame together. She stated that until the very end, her Mama Beth was her whole life, and that she had no regrets with the life they lived.
She followed with a moving performance of Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," tweaking the lyrics just a bit to make it a message to her mother in heaven.
The most moving tribute, however, was when Jaya re-enacted the moment that her mother addressed the audience during Jaya's first ever performance at the Folk Arts Theater all those years ago, saying that her dreams for her daughter have finally come true, and later knelt down to kiss the stage. Watch the special moment below:
Despite becoming emotional, she did her best to keep her mother's spirit alive by performing her favorite song by Tina Turner, "Rolling on the River," where she was joined by the drage queens of O Bar.
Right before ending the show, Jaya had a special treat for the audience: her two children, Sabriya and Dylan, prepared a special performance just for the night. It's obvious that talent runs in the family!
The night ended on a high note, with Jaya singing disco classics while walking into the audience to take photos with fans and dance the night away.
With so many wonderful performances in one night, one thing remains constant: Jaya's undeniable talent, strength, resiliance, and humilty. She has reached the epitome of her career, having overcome numerous challenges throughout her life. There truly is no one else like her, and it's amazing to think that 30 years later, her signature voice has remained unchanged.
This anniversary concert was absolutely, Jaya at her finest.
Were you able to witness Jaya At Her Finest? Which was your favorite moment? Comment below!
A Filipina born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Alyssa always has a story to tell. She is a writer by day, singer on occasion, ballerina by heart, and forever a musical theatre enthusiast. When she's not immersing herself in her Spotify playlists, you'll find her training to be a triathlete or being a full-time cool tita to her 9 nephews and nieces.