The diva that is
After nearly 20 years in the business, she's seen and done it all. Now,
the next big goal of pop diva Kuh Ledesma is to help one of her fellow
artist make it big in America.
“I’d love to do that,” says Kuh, who is one of local music’s most
committed, driven and creative artists. A big believer in the Filipino
talent, Kuh was one of the first Filipino artists to launch an album in the
US (Precious, released 1998). She was also the first to have her very own
billboard on Sunset Boulevard. Now, Kuh is training her sights on helping
someone else achieve that dream.
Kuh has always been committed to the cause of the Filipino artist. In fact,
she put up the Music Museum to help her fellow singers and give them a
venue that would always be available to them, unlike hotels where they
could only be given space if the ballroom was not booked for a function.
“We had a difficult time booking hotels, and when they had lunch functions,
we were always at their mercy when it came to scheduling rehearsals and
setting up for a show. That’s why I came up with the Music Museum, to give
the industry a place they could call their own,” says Kuh.
When she first put it up, Kuh had to convince her fellow artists that doing
shows in a venue that could seat less than 800 people could be profitable.
She did it by example: She got her old group, Music & Magic, to do a series
of 25 shows at the newly–opened venue. As she expected, the shows were sold
out. Says Kuh: “I had to show them it was a good idea first. After the
Music & Magic shows, we were able to pull in the big artists to do series
of shows at the Music Museum.”
It is Kuh’s desire for innovation that has kept her career going all these
years. Everytime she introduces a new idea – whether it is an album, a
venue like the Music Museum or a series of TV specials like “Akuhstic” – it
becomes a trend, either among fellow artists or the public in general. As
an artist, she wants to be an innovator, the kind who makes it her business
to come up with new ideas all the time. “I just have this need to bring
something new to the audience,” explains Kuh. “I’ve been around for a long
time and I don’t want to keep giving them the same thing.”
Looking back, Kuh says that she has had a very good career. She has
survived a lot of gossip and malicious intriga, the latest of which had to
do with her marriage. Honestly, Kuh admits that there was trouble in her
marriage to businessman Louie Quirino–Gonzales, but says that it is over
now. The experience has brought her closer not just to her husband, but
also, to God.
Although she is not as active as Gary Valenciano in preaching her newfound
faith, Kuh is quite vocal about it, especially to friends and the people
that she works with. “Yes, we had problems in our marriage,” she says. “At
that time, my faith wavered so much. God showed a way to strengthen my
faith by giving me signs. Thank God, Louie and I have a better relationship
Surprisingly, Kuh says that the challenge of loving others does not just
relate to her husband, but also to other people. Kuh, who has long had a
reputation for being a workaholic and mataray (remember when people used to
call her the “Ice Queen?”) says that she has thankfully become more mellow
and learned to curb her temper and expectations so she doesn’t get
disappointed. “Before, I had a lot of expectations, especially when it came
to work. I was very demanding. I had high standards for myself and expected
others to be the same way. But when you consciously try to become more
loving to people, you want to change. It’s a struggle, but I’m only human.”
Being the kind of performer she is, Kuh still has those expectations. She
always prods herself to turn out a good performance or a record that people
will not mind shelling out money for. “I have a commitment as a performer,”
she says. “But now my objective in life is not anymore to come up with a
great album or to be popular; now I just want to be a better person than I
Having God in her life has planted a new desire in Kuh’s heart to be of
service to her community and fellow Filipinos. She wants to be instrumental
in community work, and is thinking of donating royalties from her latest
album, “Duet with Me,” to an educational fund for the employees of the
Republic of Malate. After all, charity does begin at home.
And yes, she is concerned about current political events in our country.
She has been seen on TV attending rallies with other artists. However, the
pop diva stresses that she is not there strictly for political reasons, but
more because she is concerned about what is happening to our country and
the effect it will have on the future of children and of course, of her own
daughter Isabella. “I realize that I have to work harder now because of
this crisis and really do something,” she says.
With all these new concerns, is the pop diva thinking of retiring from
showbiz? “Being an artist is not an easy thing,” says Kuh. “Sometimes I
feel that if I get into business full–time, that I can do more things that
will help other people, like create more jobs. Maybe in a few years I will
slow down. I might go into retail or open more restaurants. But I think
that somehow, I’ll always make records and do shows, but this time for
Kuh loves her career and does not think she will give it up totally. “I’ve
put a lot of hard work into my career and made a lot of good friends,” she
explains. “I am so grateful for all the blessings, but now I want to reach
For instance, she continues to make albums. Her latest effort, “Duet with
Me,” is unique in that it is the first album where you can actually duet
with the singer. One CD in the double album has Kuh’s full vocals, while
the other has her singing the melody and harmony so you can sing along with
her. But that’s not all – if you’d actually like to sing–along with her in
person, well, Kuh is giving people the opportunity to do just that with her
in “Duet with Me, The Concert” which she is staging at the Republic Dance
Club of the Republic of Malate on Dec. 29 and 30. (The show on Dec. 29 will
be followed by a repeat of “A Night of Studio 54” which will feature
all–night disco dancing reminiscent of New York’s most famous disco in the
Next year will be an even bigger year for Kuh as she celebrates her
anniversary in showbiz. She is thinking of doing a special show sometime
the end of March as a benefit performance. Already, her creative mind is
whirling with concepts – she is thinking of doing an all–duets concert with
some of her best friends in the business and like Gary, Martin, and Regine.
“That is, if they’ll agree,” laughs Kuh.
And why not? Surely it would be an honor for anyone to share the stage with
the country’s one and only pop diva.
Friday, 29 December 2000
The Music Inside Buzz