[Note: This was something I wrote back in August for a tribute. Last Friday (15 September 2017), I was finally able to see and hear Lani Misalucha perform live, so think of this whole post as my impressions before I’ve seen her perform in person.]
I’ve always loved Lani Misalucha, ever since I was a child. I remember, every time she appeared on television, I was always excited to see her perform. She is considered to be one of the best singers in the Philippines, one of the icons of OPM, and basically a living legend in the Philippine music industry. In the Philippines, she is known as Asia’s Nightingale, while in Las Vegas, she is the Siren of the Strip.
We’re not even related, but she honestly makes me so proud! She is the first Asian to headline in a main showroom in Las Vegas. She was voted Critics’ Choice Best Singer in the 27th Annual Best of Las Vegas in 2008. She even has a special day dedicated to her in Las Vegas and San Francisco: December 4 and August 17 as Lani Misalucha Day, respectively. Even before all these, however, she was already a celebrated singer in the Philippines, already Asia’s Nightingale then — a celebrated diva, in the best meaning of the word. Before she became Asia’s Nightingale, she was the Multiplex Queen: before she entered the recording industry, she was the voice behind multiplex and karaoke tapes, impersonating the voices of the likes of Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, and so much more. She is sometimes dubbed as the “Whitney Houston of the Philippines” because of the similarity of the timbre of their voices and their vocal styles. She was even called the Higa Diva (rough translation: Reclining Diva), because in her concerts earlier in her career, she was known as the diva who sings — whistling Minnie Ripperton’s Loving You — while lying down.
If it’s not obvious yet, she is my favorite singer of all time! And one of my dreams in life is to see her perform live. It’s a must before I die.
But I’m not here to talk about her biography. I do not want this tribute to be a copy of her Wikipedia page.
The main reason why I love Lani is her beautiful voice (duh!). Among the singers of her generation (with Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez, Queen of Soul Jaya, etc.), I personally believe she has the best vocal quality, and is the most versatile as well: she can sing in different genres, from classical, operatic arias, to R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and so much more. Her versatility further extends to impersations of both local and international divas, even — previously sharpened from her Multiplex Queen background. What impresses me the most about her is her ability to control her voice: she can make it sound thick, thin, powerful and booming, sweet and gentle, all in one. Speaking of control, god, you must watch or listen to her perform to witness how she is a master of vocal control! Lani’s signatures — the things people always try to imitate when they impersonate Lani Misalucha — are her super smooth transitions from chest voice to head voice and her vocal dynamics. One moment her voice can be loud and strong, and then the next second so faint and soft. All throughout, her voice is full, no matter what. And by the gods, her head voice is super rich! Her head voice, in fact, might be her strongest aspect vocally. If there is one song that would best illustrate what I’m trying to convey here, it would be her live performances of Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin. Watch these videos in particular, my favorites: her rendition in La Nightingale: The Return Concert (2014) (alternate clip: the same performance preceded by her most iconic hit Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin), the Ultimate Concert (2015), and the Duel of the Divas (2008). I love her live performances of this song so much, to the point that I made a playlist compiling all her live versions of that song I can find. I also compiled another playlist of some of her live performances where she really impressed me with her singing abilities.
I absolutely adore her voice. I don’t know what else to say. Belting is common in the Philippines, and for others, it might be the stick they use to measure someone’s singing abilities, but for me, it’s not just all about belting or even vocal range. (Her generation of singers, I believe, is the reason why there are so many belters in the Philippines right now, why belting is now so common. Their influence was huge!) And Lani can belt! In fact, she is known to be one of the best power belters in the country. She looks very relaxed when hitting high notes, too. Very effortless, she makes it seem so easy. For me, though, what separates her from other belters is the texture and color of her voice, and the fact that she doesn’t have to belt for me to be impressed. Bringing back vocal range, she can even whistle. She can simply hum, and I would already be crying, probably. I love her melismatic style and vocal acrobatics. The emotion in her voice, too, you can clearly feel. I’m not kidding when I say that I have cried as I listened to her sing before. She is the quintessential performer, a singer’s singer (in Concert King Martin Nievera’s words). From musicality to emotional storytelling, she has it all. You have no idea how many times I eargasmed to her singing. Every time she performs, no matter how many times I have listened to or watched it before, the awe and amazement are always present.
Watching clips of her live performances already has me totally amazed and impressed (and crying). I can only imagine what it would be like when it’s the real thing.
Lani isn’t even from my generation (and vice versa). Yet, even until now, if you ask me, I still think she is one of the best singers in the country living right now. (I personally think she is the best.) Unlike many veteran singers (including the ones from her generation, too), it is as if her voice never changed at all. I sometimes think she got even better!
There are so many amazing singers in the Philippines, both seasoned and promising, but she is my favorite, and no doubt, an influence and inspiration to many aspiring singers in the country. (In fact: It’s her songs that people sing in singing competitions to showcase their vocal prowess.) Once I see her perform live, I can then die in peace. It’s a need! [Note: And I finally did! I’ll make a separate post about it soon! 😊 Edit: It’s this post!]
Love you, Ms. Lani! 💗