Friday, October 31, 2014

Fil-Aussie ‘X Factor’ champ revisits road to victory

(Oct. 30, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Filipino-Australian high school student Marlisa Punzalan, newly declared “The X Factor Australia” champ, is only 15. Her youth belies her experience as a powerhouse singer.

Her resumé is long and impressive: At 7, she held her first piano concert. At 9, she won top prize in Sydney Eisteddfod Performing Arts Challenge for her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” At 12, she had her own concert, “Marlisa and Friends.”

She landed guest spots in the concerts of visiting Filipino artists Jose Mari Chan and Sharon Cuneta in 2012. Prior to “X Factor,” she joined and won less-prominent singing tilts.

In “X Factor,” she was mentored by ex-Boyzone vocalist Ronan Keating, and performed, among other stunners, The Beatles’ “Yesterday” and David Guetta’s “Titanium.”

(A Filipino caregiver, Rose Fostanes, won the top prize in “The X Factor Israel” in January.)
In an exclusive e-mail interview (her handler sent scans of her neatly handwritten replies), Marlisa revisited her recent victory.

How did you get into music?
I was a special guest at my brother’s piano recital and I got good feedback. I decided to take singing seriously; I joined various competitions and performed in charity events. I enrolled in a singing school, Sister2Sister. I am currently being coached by (ScoopFX vocal coach) Roxanne Kiely.

How much have your parents told you about life in the Philippines?
They tell me a lot about life in the Philippines; I am very interested in the culture. I know that [almost] every Filipino household has a karaoke [machine], like we do!

Who are your biggest influences?
My singing influences include Celine Dion, (Australion pop singer) Jessica Mauboy, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. My grandmother was also a very important influence. She was a singer.

What attracted you to “X Factor”?
I knew that “X Factor” would be a great opportunity for me to [improve] my performance skills. I joined also because of the chance to get a record deal.

How would you describe Ronan Keating’s mentoring style?
Ronan Keating gave me great advice and support. He is very professional, very knowledgeable about singing techniques.

What was the most difficult aspect of your “X Factor” experience?
That would have to be competing against older and more professional contestants.

Are you planning to visit the Philippines to perform? 
I would like to visit the Philippines and perform there but, at the moment, I have to work on my album, which will be released in Australia.

What do you hope to accomplish with this coveted title?
I hope to sell a lot of singles and albums internationally and to perform in many countries.

What do you wish to become, ultimately?
I hope to become an international singer who will inspire others.

How did you celebrate your victory?
I attended the “X Factor” after-party. I got to sing my new song [“Stand By You,” now a single, available on iTunes] for everybody there.

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