I’ll be honest. Until I saw this tweet from AJ Rafael, I hadn’t heard of Chris Cendaña or his music. I didn’t even realize the two of them would be performing at my alma mater, which is 15 minutes away from my apartment. But then I checked out Chris’ YouTube channel, heard his voice, and thought, “No, he needs to get back onto the lineup.” I wasn’t about to miss out on experiencing that talent in person. I started emailing my multicultural contacts at Messiah College to see if I could change anything. While I didn’t have any influence on the final decision, I was happy to see Chris eventually return to the evening lineup at the Asian Students Association’s API (Asian/Pacific Islander) Night.
For those of you unfamiliar with Chris, he is a Filipino singer/songwriter currently living in Pittsburgh, PA. He started playing music at a young age, beginning with the piano and going on to include percussion, guitar, and turntables. On his YouTube channel, he explains, “I started playing guitar when I was in college at Marshall University around 20 years old, and started singing about a year later when my sister Janelle (who was on scholarship for show choir) was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Multiple Sclerosis.” His online bio goes into a bit more detail:
During Christmas vacation at the age of 20, Chris found his mother’s classical guitar stowed away in a closet. He took it back to college with him and learned to play it by ear. His friends (who were seasoned musical veterans) told Chris his natural talent with music gave him an edge over many artists. They urged him to play in public. Unfortunately, Chris didn’t see a future in this. He decided to compromise this dream and play drums at his church. […]
He ventured onto YouTube, a public video sharing website, as an outlet for his music. He started by posting videos of his favorite originals and covers. It didn’t take long to starting making waves on the World Wide Web. On Feb. 29, 2008, his video “Velvet Fingertips” was featured on YouTube’s home page.
The first Chris Cendana song I ever heard (I think):
It is thanks to his videos on YouTube that I developed a love for his music. His soulful voice and musicality come together to turn ordinary covers into renditions as original as his own songs. His covers of “Landslide” and “At Last” have a place on my playlist of favorites and test the limits of YouTube’s replay button. His original songs demonstrate his talent as a versatile musician and producer with a range of styles that transport you to both a dimly lit, bluesy night club and a bustling acoustic coffeehouse. He is a talented lyricist whose words connect with the emotions and experiences of his listeners. One track may break your heart while the next can make you fall in love (sorry, ladies – he’s married!).
In the months following his performance at Messiah College, I watched for new videos on his YouTube channel. While he released some originals and covers, Chris’ online presence was fading. Once again, he had to compromise his dream of music, because his 24/7 on-call job made performing and recording incredibly difficult. In the past couple weeks, Chris began his comeback to music by posting his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and performing on BlogTV for online viewers (even at 2 am, Chris sounds great).
His comeback grows even stronger with news that Chris now has a manager so he can pursue music full-time! He announced on Facebook, “After much discussion over the last few weeks, I’m happy to announce that I am now under the management of Andre Carter of JAMS Avenue Music Group with the goal of transistioning to music FULL-TIME!” Fans everywhere are so excited for Chris and this opportunity to spend more time doing what he loves. A street team is forming to support Chris and get him more exposure (send an email to andre (at) jamsavenue (dot) com for more details). There is no word when Chris will be able to quit his on-call job and devote his time to being a musician, but we all look forward to the day when he goes full-time. For now, I’ll half-cross this off my wishlist!
“Velvet Fingertips” (Original Song by Chris Cendaña)
“Landslide” (Cover by Chris Cendaña)