banig child star

Interview with Josephine "Banig" Roberto

Thursday, November 06, 2014 Cora

Being a child star can put a performer in a predicament: being compared to how they were, transitioning into adulthood, and evolving with the times. Josephine "Banig" Roberto started so young she received her stage name from a show host who joked she was the only contestant still wetting the bed. Back with a club hit, she has learned from all points of her journey and shows a life long career can be done with poise and grace.

Halfstack: You competed in talent competitions when you were very young. How did you become interested in music and singing?
Josephine Roberto: Music has always been my one and only passion growing up. Mom and dad were both obsessed with music. My aunt loved to sing and became a singer in her teenage years. Naturally, I wanted to be just like her. The fondest childhood memories were never about playing with dolls and stuff. It was all about getting on stage with a microphone and pretending I was this famous entertainer. That was playtime for me, not knowing that I would actually make a career out of it at a young age. At age 8, I joined a national TV singing competition in the Philippines called “Ang Bagong Kampeon” (it was our own version of Star Search back in the Philippines) where I was also discovered. At 10, I won the International Star Search competition in the US representing the Philippines. Shortly after Star Search, TV appearances such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Super Dave Osborne and many more came in and through these, I got all the opportunities here in the US as a child performer. But all that time I spent as a child performer, it was all still just “playtime” for me. I don’t recall a moment when I didn’t want to get on stage because I was tired or I wanted to play with the rest of the kids instead. Every chance to get on stage I would jump on it because I wanted to be the best at it.

H: Who are your influences and how have they shaped you?
JR: My music idols have influenced me and shaped me to be the entertainer that I am today. I can only hope to be as a great as them one day! Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and more. I wanted to be able to sing, dance, perform and write so I was obsessed with watching them as a kid. I believe that in order for anybody to become a better entertainer, you have to learn from the best entertainers in the industry.

H: How has your experience as a child phenomenon shaped your music today?
JR:Starting out really young definitely helped me learn about the music industry, whether it was a good learning experience or a bad one. It led me to the music I am doing now. As a kid, there was a lot of hype and excitement with all the opportunities I was getting-- winning the International Star Search, appearing on TV shows, signing to major companies for TV, management, talent agency, and later jumping from one label to another. When it all didn’t pan out as how it was expected of me, I had no choice but to learn how to write and produce and promote. A kid’s gotta learn somehow and I did through the disappointments and frustrations from the past. These experiences led not only me, but also my sister and music partner, Jhoanna to write, produce, promote, manage and more! My music releases now have all been original songs, and I now have a lot of say in all the things that I do, especially when it comes to my music career.

H:How has your writing and music changed over the years?
JR:As a kid, I was expected to belt the Whitney, Mariah classic power songs so in all of my shows, people wanted me to sing these types of songs. As a writer though, I kind of had to go with the industry flow. I started writing songs that may not be that vocally challenging as the power ballads I was used to. Sometimes it’s just all about the “hook”, even if they aren’t my preferred power vocal songs. But when your audience is actually singing to it, then I did my part! But I have to say that my heart still belongs to the timeless ballads that I love to sing!

H: You wrote and produced for Joe Jackson's singer, Crystal. What did you learn about the business and yourself through writing and producing for someone else?
JR:I learned that when writing and producing for other artists, I have to bring out the best in that artist without having them emulate my style of singing. Instead, make them shine by bringing out their own flavor and making it fit their voice and style.

H: You wrote an album in Tagalog. What was that experience like? What has been the response?
JR: My sister and I are fluent in Tagalog. We speak, read and write it. But writing Tagalog songs was harder than we thought! Most of the songs were ballads, but the challenge was making the lyrics fit the melody and making it song-like and not super corny! There is one song that we wrote called “Igalaw Natin”, an upbeat song in Taglish (Tagalog-English) which we released in the U.S. as an experiment to see if it will actually get played in the clubs here in the U.S. Surprisingly, it got some spins on the radio and the clubs! It even got on the charts! Just goes to show you that music is truly a universal language.

H:What's next for you?
JR:I am working on the completion of my album set for release in the early part of 2015! “He Wants To Get It” is the first single and it’s available on iTunes and Amazon. The music video is also out on VEVO. I am looking forward to more concerts and releases in the near future! H: What's the number one thing you'd like people to know about you and your work? JR:Music has always been my passion. Fortunately, I was blessed with a gift that I am able to share and touch people’s lives with, through the songs I write or the performances I do. And despite of all the ups and downs in the biz, I will continue to share it with them however way I possibly can. For more information on Josephine Roberto, visit www.josephineroberto.com or YouTube

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