Monday, April 16, 2012


The Philippine Star / Sounds Familiar
April 16, 2012

Nora Aunor turned out to be such a fine sensitive actor that people often forget she began her career as a singer. She was, in fact, a singing champion. Nora won first while living in Iriga City, in amateur contests sponsored by the leading milk brands of the time, Liberty and Darigold. Then she came to Manila to compete in the big one, Tawag Ng Tanghalan.

The practice then was to have the previous week’s winner compete with the new winner until one singer became the winner for 14 weeks and was made to retire undefeated. Then the process began again. After a year, all those undefeated winners got to compete against each other in the grand finals where one champion was chosen. Nora, who sang Moonlight Becomes You, was one of those champions.

The next logical step after winning a singing contest is to get a record deal. Not so easy out here back in the ’60s when the music industry was dominated by foreign hits. Besides, the standard then for girlsingers was either Pilita Corrales or Carmen Soriano. Although her voice was of such excellent quality, Nora was small, dark and puny-looking, and the labels were not interested.

It was Carmen who turned things around for Nora. The lovely chanteuse brought the young girl from Iriga to Alpha Recording, then the leading independent label. Alpha president Buddy de Vera was initially not interested. It seemed like he would be taking a huge risk but he later took Carmen’s word and signed up Nora. Little did he know that he was making history with a move that would forever change the local entertainment industry.

What came next is now part of legend. Nora’s meteoric rise found the former water vendor dominating all areas of show business. They dubbed her the Superstar. She had blockbuster films, a top-rating TV show and to the delight of De Vera, one big hit record after another. Truth to tell the fans did not seem to care what the songs were, all they wanted was to hear Nora sing.

And sing up a storm she did. Nora recorded hundreds of songs during her stay with Alpha. She did albums for other labels later but no stint was as prodigious or as successful as her first one. Besides, there also came the time when Nora had become better known as an actress and was giving priority to film projects over recording. That was unfortunate but the great thing about recording is that as long as you take care of your masters, those songs will live forever.

Alpha did take very good care of those recordings and that is why fans and all those curious about the young Nora Aunor can now listen to those hits. Recently released into the stores were three volumes of Nora’s Greatest Hits and two volumes of Nora’s Mga Awiting Sariling Atin on CDs all made from the original masters recorded at the historic Cinema-Audio Recording Studios in Mandaluyong.

The albums retail for only P250 each, really a bargain for those fans who treasure anything about Nora. The transfer from analog to digital was very well-done and there are a whopping 25 cuts in each disc. My only complaint is that although the CDs feature original photos, they do not have liner notes that could have fully reintroduced Nora the singer 
or carried anecdotes about the production of the songs.

 But I am nitpicking again. Why complain when you will surely have lots of fun with the memories listening to these songs. Mama, The Wedding, A Promise Of Love, Love Me With All Your Heart, True Picture, I Know How You Love Me, Tiny Bubbles, Pearly Shells, Little Brown Gal, Moonlight Swim, Lollipops And Roses, The Things We Did Last Summer, The Music Played, And God Smiled At Me, Banjo Boyand others in the Greatest Hits series. There are also Marupok Na Sumpa, Pag-ibig Ikaw Ang May Sala, Buhat, Binatang Makisig, Unang Halik, Ang Tindera, Sarung Banggi, Despatsadora and others in Mga Awiting Sariling Atin.

And because we now have less than eight months to go before Christmas Day, Christmas Songs Volumes 1 and 2 by Nora are now also available. The contents are pretty much standard Yuletide stuff. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Merry Christmas Darling, Frosty The Snowman, Silent Night, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, You’re All I Want For Christmas, Christmas Alphabet, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Jingle Bells and others. But the songs are performed by Nora and that is what makes them truly special.



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