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Emirati pop star Alira.

PHOTO BY JONATHAN YBERA/EXPAT MEDIA


Alira: Why this Emirati star sings Filipino flawlessly

Alira did it again. The Emirati pop star stunned audiences in Dubai when he sang Filipino ballad Babalikang Muli at the recent Wear Your Culture Pilipinas event in Al Ghurair Centre.

Alira broke into his smooth rendition of Regine Velasquez’s Babalikang Muli, which was initially met with disbelief from the crowd, followed by ecstatic applause and cheers.

A video of his performance, posted on Expat Media, has since gotten nearly two million views, and stirred praise from many fans as well as netizens coming across his talent for the first time.Watch it here:

 

Why does Alira sing the way he does? This is because the 27-year-old countertenor holds a high vocal range of up to six octaves. It means he can sing in both male and female range.

How is this UAE national able to sing in Filipino? Is that really his voice? Who exactly is he? Expatmedia.net caught up with the pop star to get answers to your frequently asked questions.

You have such a unique talent. Where are you from?

I am from the UAE and I was born and raised in Dubai.

Do you have Filipino ancestry? Is your mother Filipina?

No, I don’t have Filipino ancestry and both my parents are full-blooded Emiratis, but I am very drawn to Filipinos as they are very kind and warm hearted.

Are you male or female?

I guess this question stems from people hearing my countertenor voice but can’t connect my face to my sound. But, to answer the question, I am male.

How are you able to sing in a female voice?

It’s an ability that began when I was kid. I used to hum to my favorite songs and noticed that I can sing in a high range.

Some sceptics don’t believe it is your voice.

Well, it is 100 percent my voice. It usually appears to be peculiar at first when somebody sees me singing in a high register or they think it’s someone else’s voice but it’s my voice. Fun fact: there are quite a few male singers out there with the ability to sing in high vocal register.

What other languages can you sing?

I can sing in English, Arabic, French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Spanish. People heard me sing in Japanese and Arabic at my Anime concert at the Middle East Film and Comic Con 2022.

You also sing in Filipino.

Yes. The first time was my rendition of Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka at the Paskong Handog sa Pinoy concert in Dubai last December. The second time was at Kalayaan 2022 at Dubai World Trade Center.

How are you able to pronounce Filipino words so well when you sing?

I would pay attention very carefully to the original artist who has recorded the song so that I can get the perfect pronunciation.

Who introduced you to Filipino music?

By myself, accidentally. I actually came across a song while returning back from a flight and it was a song by Angeline Quinto, “Patuloy ang Pangarap”. That’s how it began for me.

When did you start singing?

Ever since I was a little kid, around 10 years old.

How many hours do you practice singing?

I usually train my voice for between one hour to one hour and thirty minutes a day and sing along to my favorite songs in the car.

What was the first song that you sang in front of a crowd?

The first song that I sang in front of a crowd was “Then You Look at Me” by Celine Dion.

What is your favourite song and why?

Hmm. This a hard one. I have a lot of favorite songs but one song that was my favorite for a long time is “My Heart Will Go On”. I got to sing this in front of a live audience at last December’s UAE Golden Year Music Festival in Dubai, which also featured Michael Learns to Rock.

Which artists do you look up to?

Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Regine Velasquez, So Hyang.

Which personalities have you worked with?

I worked with voice coach Lisa Hugo to develop my singing voice, and Grammy award-winning record producer Wayne Wilkins—who also worked with Britney Spears—on my original single Take Flight.

What is your most memorable singing gig and why?

My first back-to-back gigs UAE Golden Year Music Festival with Michael Learns to Rock, and then the Paskong Handog sa Pinoy concert last year where I got to sing alongside Catriona Gray, KZ Tandingan, Yeng Constantino, K Brosas, Erik Santos and TJ Monterde. The concerts were magical. I loved every bit. The crowd was outstanding and the love I received from them was unimaginable.

Which artist would you like to collaborate with and why?

I would like to collaborate with my favorite artists, which I mentioned, as I have looked up to them all my life and it would give me a great honor to collaborate with them on a project.

What was your most memorable collaboration?

My collaboration with Grammy award-winning music producer Wayne Wilkins on my first single “Take Flight”.

You are also a song writer. How do you get inspiration when composing songs?

I usually think of a theme or title and then I start thinking about a scenario that happened to me or to somebody else and then I begin writing the lyrics of the song. Sometimes I look for a certain song that describes what I’m going through but if I don’t find it, I create a song with my own lyrics that can also be relatable to other people.

Take Flight is your first original song. Where did you find inspiration for it?

The inspiration for the song came from the theme based on love, about people coming together and celebrating each other. The idea also is based on how one person’s love can be spread to make the rest of the world fall in love, too.

You launched your original song We Are One at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Tell us about that.

This is one of the big songs that I wrote and I’m super happy and proud about this song as it carries a strong message about unity and solidarity and these are the two traits that I strongly stand for. It brings me great joy to see people coming together as one and celebrating each other no matter where they are from and I believe I have managed to carry this message forward through this song.

We Are One was reprised in India. How did you feel about getting a new international record for that performance?

That was quite unexpected. I went to India and had the Indian people celebrate my song as they all rose on their feet and waved the flags of the world countries. They showered me with their love, support and have awarded me an international world record, which I am forever grateful for.

Do you plan on creating an album?

Yes, I am planning to very soon.

Do you have plans of launching a music video?

Yes. I intend to create music videos for my original songs.

You work hard on your music. What do you do on your free time?

I spend my free time with my friends, watching a movie or a Netflix show. I also spend time with my cats, and I occasionally go for midnight swim at the beach.

Do you play any musical instrument?

I can play the piano a little.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

Be yourself.

What was the best comment you ever got from a fan?

That they love me and they look up to me.

What was the best gift you ever received from a fan?

The best gift that I could ever receive would be their love and prayers.

When can we hear your male singing voice?

My male voice is still under training, I intend to make it more fluid, and I use it mostly for classic songs and for singing background vocals for my songs. Enshalla, in the near future I will sing a full song in my low male register.

PIA/ICA/Expat Media


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