All Ears on the Kalimba Artist: Bea Lorenzo's Journey Into Folk
by Jace Amodo, June 13, 2019 1:50pm
Bea Lorenzo performs at a mall show for Linggo Ng Musikang Pilipino. Photo by Maria Romero
The OPM scene is thriving, thanks in large part to the support of local music fans. We've discovered fresh acts from the past years—newcomers who're now going big in every stage they perform. Recognition isn't that rare now, but many musicians still work their way towards their break. Bea Lorenzo, a Filipino singer-songwriter and aspiring producer, is doing the work to get noticed in a sea of talented local acts.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Dallas, Bea's childhood years were defined merely by playing outdoors and petting animals; that is until she learned she excels in performing arts, specifically in ballet. Her summers and Christmases were then all about ballet recitals. Little did she know that she'll be playing the very music that flutters her wings as a ballerina.
Moving to Manila in 1999 was a culture shock for a young Bea; she had to adapt in terms of dialect, clothing, and much more. Her interest in music remained intact growing up: she would sing in public spaces, in ikot jeeps around the University of the Philippines-Diliman, even during her lab classes, she is a natural performer.
As with any people used to a fast-paced lifestyle, Bea is familiar with Manila’s transportation woes. However, she saw the three hours of traffic going to and fro her job as a journalist as an opportunity to keep in touch with her passion. But because the piano, her one true love, seems too much to bring in her car, she discovered a small piano-like instrument called Kalimba.
“So much of what I want to be as an artist, I discovered while working behind the scenes as a music news writer. My job required me to keep open eyes, open ears at all times when on the field - they encouraged us to be observant. Eventually, it was the press cons, interviews, and concerts that collectively provided me insight on how pursuing my own artistry would work for me.”
She would continue on to cover songs such as "Daydreamer," "Someone Like You," and "When We Were Young" by Adele. Come 2017, as soon as she shared her talent to the world, her name springboarded to the list of many young promising artists in the Philippines.
The OPM scene is far from dying, yet introducing yourself as a local artist to a country with colonial mentality is still a mean feat. Bea Lorenzo acquaints herself with the scene through the alternative R&B genre; Her music is all about marrying electronic beats with organic patches produced from her makeshift piano. Soulful—it's the perfect word to describe Bea's element.
"I didn't see myself trying to create my own original material before. I would just sing covers lang talaga until I joined a camp called "Elements," Bea recalls her yesteryears with Inside Manila. The pressures of a newcomer were much stronger when she joined Elements, a music masterclass for Filipino singer-songwriters. But these were pressures she battled head-on, alongside many more talented artists. When asked how she answers to the demands of releasing a new song, Bea says she's receptive. "I can choose to feel pressured by it or I can also choose to feel motivated or excited," she says. Besides, if people are waiting for it, it's a good sign.
“Being able to encounter smiles on your listener's faces, to hear their laughter in realtime, it's a gift I just can't and won't ever take for granted.”
On November 14, 2018, Bea released her debut single, a soulful song entitled "Ili (Hush)," on Spotify. A music video was posted on YouTube on November 23 and it was everything she had ever dreamed of producing. The song, the tailor-made cast, the incorporation of movements—"Ili (Hush)" flourishes in the aesthetics department. And in April 2019, Bea signed a contract with Sony Music, so we can expect new music from her soon.
The transition from covering songs to performing live was something our artist here never saw coming. But as the popular saying goes, when an opportunity knocks on your door, always be willing to take a chance; and risk, she did. Looking forward, Bea aims to be fluent in mixing with software. Thereafter, she plans to help other musicians also make their own music. And with the OPM's current state, we could use the effort.