Sunday, October 9, 2011

This might be of interest to some, an article I wrote on Fil-Can talent, Cherylyn Toca, which came out in the last issue of the FF:

“I’m so terribly sorry for not calling back” so Cherylyn Toca profusely apologized on a voicemail she had left me in reply for the Filipino Forum’s request for an interview. I couldn’t possibly hold this against her. The talented young lady’s only “wrong” if one wills, that of simply being a typical energetic, dynamic and gregarious 21-yr-old. Typical perhaps, but by no means ordinary. In fact, Ms. Toca is extraordinary.

Cherylyn certainly hasn’t rested on her laurels after winning the Fil-Can Idol singing competition back in 2006. She has since completed her secondary education at the Fine Arts Core Education (F.A.C.E) which as this school’s name denotes, offers a unique fine arts program that focuses on both instrumental and vocal music, visual arts and drama. Ms. Toca had also attended the Montreal School of Performing arts and had participated in acting workshops and boot camps at the Dynamic Theatre Factory. Furthermore, she studied under the tutelage of renowned American singer and songwriter, Barbara Lewis. All of this training has groomed her to become the performer she is today.

“I’m organizing a concert. You should come!” Cherylyn excitedly announces her new project and brainchild. And that was it, my curiosity and interest was piqued and held from that point of the interview on. “Just how does one go about planning such a feat?” I asked her. “Well, the most important detail is the menu, I mean venue! She laughingly corrected herself. “Once that’s chosen and booked, everything should just fall into place. I’ll put together a band; enlist the help of some of my musician friends. My pianist would have to be exceptionally good, though. As for publicity, it will be by word of mouth. I want to have a modest number in attendance, to keep it intimate and expect even less people, so if we actually have a larger turn out, we’ll be able to say that we’ve “sold out,” you know, marketing strategy!” She winked.

Possessing good business sense and flair, Ms. Toca is in her final year of undergraduate studies at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. “I went into this particularly, because of the constant demand for professionals in this field. It’ll open different options for me. It’s like a safety net. I would love to work as a buyer for let’s say Walmart or Holts. And right away, I understood where she was going with this. “Clothes” I suggested, “Yes!” She beamed. “My parents – my dad especially- think I spend way too much on clothes” Cherylyn contritely reveals. Indeed, quite the fashionista, she arrived at the interview, clad in an ankle grazing maxi dress and simple flat sandals. A Louis Vuitton “Speedy” satchel slung over her forearm. She also sported a beautiful tan, having just come back from a trip to Florida which included visits to the Aventura Mall and an interesting celebrity sighting. “After getting the experience of working for a company, I would definitely, love to start my own business, launch a clothing line, maybe or open a retail store.”

However those plans might have to wait, as Cherylyn continued to explain, immediately after graduation she would like to go on a (well-deserved!) sabbatical of sorts from school and just devote herself to travelling and singing. “I seem to appeal to an older crowd – a more mature audience.” “Everyone says I have a Broadway-calibre voice. It’s funny because people tend to think that Broadway/musical popularized songs are harder to sing than your average pop song. I actually find that the opposite holds true, well, at least, I do! She lists Eva Cassidy, Lara Fabian and Barbara Streisand – all adult contemporary singers, as her favourites.

“So going back to the concert, have you come up with a theme?” I ask. “No, not yet, I would need to see the actually stage first, and then I’ll go with my gut. It won’t be so much, a theme – more a feeling- if you know what I mean! As for her repertoire, it would definitely include both English & French songs, some Italian, and of course, one in Tagalog.

Although, I am thoroughly convinced that she could definitely hold her own against current popular international artists, in fact, eclipse them even, I still asked Cherylyn whether she had ever thought of moving to the Philippines and giving the showbiz there a shot since it would seem like an easier industry to break into, relatively speaking. “Yes, I have considered it, and am not ruling out the idea altogether, not yet. But I’d really like to establish myself here” She replies. “This” she continues, gesturing to her immediate surroundings “is what I know.” Without a doubt, with her family, friends and fans rallying by her side, Cherylyn will be going places.

And all too soon, the interview concluded. She graciously thanked and bade us goodbye and I for myself, couldn’t help but marvel at how many talented individuals there are within the Filipino community that we can truly be proud of.