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Pilita Corrales, the successful career that originated in Melbourne

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Alice Nicolas
Alice Nicolas
Alice Gregorio Nicolas is the publisher of The Philippine Times.

Jason Cordi

Asia’s Queen of Song, Pilita Corrales, is renowned for her stardom in the Philippines with several hits including ‘A Million Thanks To You’, ‘Kapantay Ay Langit’, and ‘Ang Pipit’. She is known to be witty, warm, enthusiastic and entertaining having appeared in various films, as well as shows such as ‘An Evening With Pilita’ ‘Ang Bagong Kampeon’, and more recently as judge on the talent shows ‘Philippine Idol’ and ‘X-Factor Philippines’. Prior to her success in the Philippines however, her career actually began in Melbourne where she shot to fame between 1959-1963.

After completing music studies in Spain and a radio stint in Manila, Pilita met American actor and magician John Calvert who would become her manager. It was in 1959 when the then 21 year old Pilita joined John with his troupe of performers on his yacht, setting sail for Singapore and Australia. During their voyage, they were shipwrecked off the coast of the Northern Territory, leaving them stranded, which made headlines across Australia. Located by the RAAF after a four-day search, they were taken to Darwin by the Australian Navy. Soon after, they performed in Sydney, and then Melbourne where they were received with fanfare.

The young Cebuana was first introduced as the magician’s assistant, but became quickly known for her individuality and charm as a singer. She was featured on the popular TV shows, ‘Club 7’, and ‘In Melbourne Tonight’ (hosted by the King of Australian TV Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton), where she eventually had a regular appearance. She captured the attention of Australians interested in the attractive foreign performer with an intimate, romantic and delicate voice who would perform in English, Spanish and Filipino.

Local record producing company, Astor Records’ first ever pressed records were the single ‘Speak Low’ and the album ‘Pilita Tells The Story Of Love’ in late 1959. Pilita’s music became a hit on the airwaves when she became the first female recording artist in Australia to score a hit on the newly established pop charts with the single ‘Come Closer To Me’. Aside from Melbourne, she made appearances in Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide and in regional Victoria. Pilita was regarded as the most popular vocalist to appear on live TV in Melbourne in 1960, and TV stations Channel 7 and 9 battled to have the performer on their programs. She has been dubbed as one of the ‘Great Dames of Victorian Radio and Television’ and has also had a street named after her in Forest Hill. Pilita returned to the Philippines in 1963, after her family who had migrated to Australia decided to move back home. To this day, older generation Australians still recall Pilita as a star of their youth.

Pilita’s trademark backbend, swaying hips, remarkable singing voice and glittered dresses continues to appeal to audiences as she performs songs from her career spanning over five decades. Her much-awaited concert in Melbourne produced by Oyster Productions will be held on 15 August 2015, 7pm at the Village Green Hotel, Mulgrave.

For tickets and enquiries, please contact Lulu Lorenzo on 0419 356 631 or email oysterproductions@gmail.com

Alice Nicolas
Alice Nicolas
Alice Gregorio Nicolas is the publisher of The Philippine Times.

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