Melanie Alvarez (born Melanie Hernandez Calumpad; born 5 January 1981), better known by her stage name Kyla, is a Filipino R&B singer-songwriter, occasional actress and presenter.
Kyla began her career in 2000 under OctoArts EMI Philippines and rose to prominence with the release of her second single "Hanggang Ngayon" (English translation: "Until Now"). The song won the MTV Viewers' Choice for Southeast Asia at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards making her the first East Asian female artist to win at the MTV Video Music Awards
Known in the Philippines as "the Queen of R&B", her work has earned her several achievements, including a star on the Walk of Fame in the Philippines, an MTV Video Music Award, eleven Awit Awards, four MTV Philippines Music Award, and four MYX Music Awards. She was honored by the Philippines Society of Composers, Singers, and Publishers for her contributions to music as one of the first pioneers of R&B music in the country. In 2015, Kyla signed with Cornerstone Talent Management Center and transferred to ABS-CBN after over 10 years with GMA Network.
Early life and discovery
Born Melanie Hernandez Calumpad in Tondo, Manila, she was weaned on her parent's old school soul and jazz records — Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Aretha Franklin — Melanie soon developed an affinity for singing, hogging the mic every single chance she gets. By her 10th birthday, Melanie was already joining many prestigious TV singing contests. "Tanghalan ng Kampeon" was her first singing contest but on DZRH "Hamon sa Kampeon" was her first win in 1991. She was lording over "Tanghalan ng Kampeon" for six straight weeks, and with her powerful interpretation of Jennifer Holiday's "I Am Changing" became the show's grand champion in 1993. She graduated high school at San Sebastian College - Recoletos and earned her Bachelor degree of BS Mass Communication in Philippine Christian University.
Veteran director Al Quinn saw her potential, and encouraged her to join the immensely popular Wednesday group of That's Entertainment, an afternoon variety show on GMA Network using her real name, Melanie, as her screen name. Melanie represented the country in the Fourth Yamaha Music Quest on August 1995 in Japan, where she interpreted the Vehnee Saturno original, "Only World".
In 1997, she brought home the third prize trophy in the Metropop Young Singers' Competition (later renamed Metropop Star Search). Soon GMA's Infiniti Records offered Melanie, along with fellow Metropop Star Search winners Carmela Cunta and Jonard Yanzon, to wax a couple of songs for a compilation album, Kung Umiibig. She recorded two solo tracks: "I Wish You Love" and "Kung Magkikita Tayo Muli", which would later re-emerge as a Vina Morales signature hit, "Muli".
Armed with "One More Try", she again joined the Metropop Song Festival in 2000. The song failed to make it in the Top 12m but did make it to EMI, whose manager signed her to a recording deal with EMI Philippines on April 2000. She was given the stage name Kyla.
2000–2003: Debut albums, early success, and international work
Way to Your Heart
Kyla made her big debut in 2000 with Way To Your Heart with its hit carrier single, "Bring It On." The album brought out the realization that yes, the country's first honest-to-goodness R&B has arrived. Comparisons to R&B super stars Brandy and Aaliyah began to surface.
However, it was her second single, the piano-driven ballad "Hanggang Ngayon" that turned out to be Kyla's breakthrough hit, topping a host of FM radio charts. The song's music video, which was directed by Lyle Sacris, further boosted the song's popularity. The video won for Kyla an award at the MTV Video Music Awards and two big honors trophies at the 2001 MTV Pilipinas Awards: Best New Artist and Video of the year. Her video even went on to win the MTV Southeast Asia Video Music Award. Along with Lea Salonga and Regine Velasquez, Kyla was listed as Best Female Singer in a survey held by popular teen magazine Meg in her first full year in the music business alone. Kyla has six Awit Awards, including Best New Female Artist. FM Radio station KF FM even hailed her as Breakthrough Artist of the Year. On 21 October 2001, she joined the Himig Handog Sa Makabagong Kabataan song contest as one of the interpreters for Jonathan Manalo's song "Tara Tena" with Kaya and V3. The entry was eventually proclaimed the winner.
Kyla opened 2002 with a bang, receiving the award for Female Artist of the Year from two of the country's most popular radio stations Magic 89.9. and Monster Radio RX 93.1. She was invited to perform at the MTV Asia Awards with British boy band Blue. Her self-titled album was released in 2002 which marked her debut as a songwriter, penning two compositions: "I'm Into You" and "This Day". She collaborated with Malaysian R&B artist, Ferhad for his single "What More". She joined the noontime variety show SOP as a regular host on 14 April 2002.
I Will Be There
Kyla's third album, I Will Be There became one of her most respected albums to date. The album showcased Kyla's versatility with R&B tracks "Bounce" and "I Will Find You" to ballad songs such as "I Will be There" and "Bakit Wala Ka Pa". The title track is penned by Mr. Ogie Alcasid, while "Naghihintay Lamang" is written by Janno Gibbs and "Feel So Good" by Rhada. There are a couple of reunions in "I Will Be There", as well. First is with Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano as they do a duet with "Sana Maulit Muli". After their performance at the MTV Awards, Blue collaborated with Kyla on "Flexin'". In 2003, she performed with British boy band Blue at the MTV Asia Awards in Singapore singing their hit single "One Love". Irish singer Ronan Keating of the Boyzone performed with Kyla at the Araneta Coliseum on 13 February 2003.
On 29 November 2003, Kyla reunited with Jonathan Manalo and made a return to the Metropop Song Festival to interpret "Buti Na Lang", which eventually finished in third place. Kyla made special appearances in sitcoms and made her acting debut in the telenovela Narito Ang Puso Ko as Melanie. On 19 June 2003, she portrayed the life story of Sarah Geronimo in Magpakailanman (Pangarap Na Bituin: The Sarah Geronimo Story) which served as its first high-rated episode for season 2, beating Maalaala Mo Kaya with 28% ratings in the AGB Nielsen Philippines.
2004–2006: Not Your Ordinary Girl and Beautiful Days
She co-hosted GMA Channel 7's defunct Sunday variety show SOP. She opened 2004 with her birthday celebration at SOP with a surprise duet from American singer-songwriter and producer, Keith Martin. Kyla had included one of his songs in her Perfectly Acoustic compilation album released December 2003. In November 2004, she released her biggest-selling album to date, Not Your Ordinary Girl. The album spawned five singles "Because Of You", "Human Nature", "If the Feeling Is Gone", "Not Your Ordinary Girl", and "Till They Take My Heart Away", all of which were #1 hit singles.
On 12 November 2004 Kyla held the Not Just Your Ordinary Girl concert at the Araneta Coliseum. It was a certified sold out concert as well. The same year, she opened for Alicia Keys Live in Manila at the Araneta Coliseum. From 2006-07, Kyla hosted Popstar Kids, a talent search for potential kids aired on QTV that produced teen singing sensation Julie Anne San Jose. In June 2006, Kyla released her fifth album under EMI Phils, Beautiful Days. The album features the popular single "Ngayong Wala Ka Na".
2007–2009: Heartfelt and Heart 2 Heart
In 2007, she released her sixth album, Heartfelt. Her first album of remakes, Heartfelt contained 17 tracks, 16 of which are remakes including hit singles "I Don't Want You to Go", "Love Will Lead You Back" and "It's Over Now", as well as an original composition, "Someone"
Kyla and Jay R also were given their own segment at SOP Rules called "Souled Out" which aired on GMA Network every Sunday. On 13 October 2007 (14 October in the Philippines), she sang the Philippine National Anthem in Manny Pacquiao versus Marco Antonio Barrera fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After Heartfelt, she released and co-produced her seventh album, 2008's Heart 2 Heart. The album produced the 2009 singles "Old Friend" and "Back in Time", written by Jay-R. "You Make Me Feel", written by Kyla and Jay R, won "Best R&B song at Awit Awards while "Back in Time" won OPM Song of the Year at the RX 93.1 Awards and Best Collaboration Award at the Wave 89.1 Urban Music Awards. In 2010, "Back in Time" also won "Favorite Song" at the MYX Music Awards.
2010–2013: Private Affair, international acclaim and collaborations, and hiatus
On 14 February 2010, she joined other artists for a special Valentine's Day concert. Kyla received nominations at 2010 MYX Music Awards including Favorite Female Artist, Favorite Mellow Video for Old Friend, Favorite Collaboration and Favorite Song for Back in Time with Jay R, and Favorite Remake for the album Heart 2 Heart In celebration of a 10-year prominence in the music industry, PolyEast Records released 27 of the "R&B royalty's" biggest hits in a two-CD compilation: Essence of Soul: The Hits Collection along with a new song, "Hanggang Wakas", a duet with Malaysian pop-R&B artist Hazami. Kyla is a regular performer-host of GMA's Sunday variety show Party Pilipinas. At this time, Kyla's tandem with Rachelle Ann Go (collectively known as "ShinKy") became popular at Party Pilipinas. On 29 November 2010, she and longtime music partner Jay R held a concert at the Music Museum, entitled "Soulmates". At that time, the two signed a contract with Terra Group in Indonesia.
While recording an album in Indonesia and Malaysia Her album, Private Affair, was released on 30 November 2010 under EMI and PolyEast Records. Its first single is "Mahal Kita (Di Mo Pansin)". Its second single, "Don't Tie Me Down", was released in January. Kyla was a featured artist in Indonesian R&B artist Joeniar Arief's new album Melayang Tinggi. The official music video for his third single "Indah Cinta Kita" featuring Kyla was released on first week of August 2011 and became a big hit in Indonesia.
Michael Bolton and David Foster conveyed their admiration for Kyla's singing prowess upon hearing her sing "I Will Always Love You". Brian McKnight also expressed his desire to work with Kyla, referring to her as his "new favorite female vocalist". He wrote a song for her entitled "My Heart", which Kyla performed for the first time on November 6, 2011 at Party Pilipinas.
Before marrying Rich Alvarez, Kyla held a concert at Teatrino, Greenhills on 11 November 2011 called Depidida de Soltera.
Kyla was one of the cast of GMA Network's Primetime Time of My Life, the first ever dance themed series on Philippine Television. On 11 December 2011, Kyla sang the Philippine National Anthem in Brian Viloria versus Giovanni Segura boxing match at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, Philippines. Kyla was one of the guests of Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez concert at Araneta Coliseum, Philippines on 14 February 2012, Mr. and Mrs. A. She sang Regine Velasquez's hit "Narito Ako".
On 16 March 2012, Brian McKnight performed "How do You Keep the Music Playing" with Kyla at his concert at the Araneta Coliseum.
Kyla recorded "Huling Sayaw" with rock band Kamikazee for the band's new album, Romantico. Released in April 2012, the song went on to be one of Kamikazee's most successful singles. "Huling Sayaw" won "Favorite Rock Video" at the 8th MYX Music Awards and was also nominated for "Favorite Collaboration".
On 1 June 2012, Christian Bautista and Kyla joined Vietnamese pop singers Tung Duong and Thanh Lam as they performed at the White Palace Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City. Christian and Kyla were received warmly by the mostly Vietnamese members of the diplomatic corps, government officials and the private sector. Christian sang I Believe I Can Fly and Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and Kyla sang Emotions and a Barbra Streisand medley. Then, they did a duet of We Could Be In Love before singing We Are The World with Tung Duong and Thanh Lam.
Kyla and Jay-R showcased the Filipino's world-renowned musicality when they performed at the Philippine National Day of World Expo 2012 held in Yeosu, South Korea on 22 July 2012.
Kyla interpreted the song "Be My Everything" originally written by Jessa Mae Gabon during A Song of Praise (ASOP) Music Festival 2012, the Philippines' first praise song competition on television. It was held at The Araneta Coliseum on 24 September 2012. ASOP music festival was an anticipated biannual event at MCGI and is in continued search for best praise songs from composers within the organization alongside ASOP TV. She was a guest performer at Rachelle Ann Go's Rise Against Gravity concert at the Music Museum on 26 October 2012.
South Korean idol singer Jun.K of the boy band 2PM also expressed his wish to meet Kyla referring to her as "his favorite singer" during his visit to the Philippines in March 2013.
On 28 October 2012, Kyla and husband Rich Alvarez announced that they are expecting their first baby at Party Pilipinas stating that they have "received the most beautiful blessing". At the time of the announcement, she was three months pregnant She remained a regular host and performer at Party Pilipinas until March 2013. She gave birth to a baby boy.
2014: Comeback with Journey and Philpop 2014
Shortly after her return to variety show Sunday All Stars in late 2013, Kyla began recording a new album. In March 2014, Kyla renewed her contract with EMI Philippines/PolyEast Records. She performed her new single "Kunwa-Kunwari Lang" on the 8 April episode of Myx Philippines's Myx VJ Search. On 10 April, PolyEast Records released a lyric video of the single. On 24 April, PolyEast announced that Journey was released 10 May 2014.
Kyla performed on MYX Live! on 21 May. During a guest appearance at DZMM the following day, she revealed the already popular track "Dito Na Lang" as the follow-up single of the album. On 29 May, it was announced that she would be taking part on the third Philippine Popular Music Festival as the interpreter for composer Jungee Marcelo's song entry entitled "Salbabida". The festival took place on 26 July, where Kyla and the other interpreters performed the song live in Meralco Theater (there was a delayed telecast though), in front of the panel of judges. The song eventually took home the grand prize winner. The day after her victory on Philpop 2014 (27 July 2014), Kyla had a mini-concert in Zirkoh Tomas Morato entitled "Kyla: A Beautiful Journey" which gave her a Best Performance in Concert (Female Category) nomination in the 27th Aliw Awards to be announced on 1 December 2014 in Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila.
While Kyla still regularly performs at Sunday noon-time variety show Sunday All Stars, she is no longer an exclusive artist for GMA Network. On 21–22 July, she made a guest appearance at Kris TV. Aside from Myx, this was her first guest appearance at the ABS-CBN network since Morning Girls with Kris and Korina in 2004. She was invited back to Kris TV on August 1 and performed "Dance with My Father" and "Because You Loved Me" in the show's tribute to the late Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino, Jr. as well as its 20–21 August episode. Kyla made a guest appearance at ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda on 4 August. She performed Sheena Easton's "It's Christmas (All Over The World)" and Gary Valenciano's "Pasko Na, Sinta Ko".
Kyla was invited to perform at the 11th Asia Song Festival on November 2 at the Asiad Main Stadium in South Korea She sang her songs "Don't Tie Me Down" and "My Heart". KBS aired the event on November 8. Kyla performed her single "Dito Na Lang" and "Huling Sayaw" (English translation: "Last Dance") with rock band Kamikazee at Myx Mo! 2014 at the Araneta Coliseum on 11 November.
2015–present: Cornerstone Talent Management and network transfer
On 21 January 2015, she joined Cornerstone Talent Management Center. She gave her last performance at Sunday All Stars on 1 February. On 2 February, she performed at the Concert of Dreams, with Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Jed Madela, Kelly Rowland, and Ne-Yo. During an interview with the Manila Bulletin, Kyla revealed that she intended to switch to ABS-CBN. She remains a recurring guest at Kris TV and has made guest appearances at various shows including Aquino & Abunda Tonight, It's Showtime, Banana Split, and Gandang Gabi Vice. She made her first appearance at ASAP 20 on its 20th anniversary on 22 February. In March 2015, she recorded her first teleserye drama theme song with ABS-CBN for the TV series On the Wings of Love.
Kyla will celebrate 15 years in the music industry with an album to be released in September and major concert on November 20, 2015.
Music and voice
Kyla remains one of the most prominent singers in the Philippines due to her "distinct voice". She is known for the "airy and raspy" quality of her singing voice, her soulful and R&B style of singing, her head tone and wide range, her use of Category 5 vocal style known as melisma, her versatility, and her ability to scat. In 2010, she sang Ella Fitzgerald's version of "How High the Moon", scatting for seven minutes.
Often mistakenly classified as a dramatic coloratura, Kyla actually possesses a lyric coloratura soprano voice with a vocal range spanning more than 4 octaves (C3 to C7), hitting a solid F5 chest voice in her songs such as "Buti Na Lang", F#5 in "Atin Ang Walang Hanggan", a G5 in "Mahal Kita (Di Mo Pansin)" and a G#5 in her cover of Aretha Franklin's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
Kyla graduated from Philippine Christian University with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. Her father is a lawyer and, she has three siblings. As a songwriter, she is known for writing and singing female-empowerment themed compositions taken from personal experiences, gospel, and inspirational music such as her acclaimed songs "Always on Time" and "I'm All Yours". Kyla interpreted "Be My Everything", originally written by Jessa Mae Gabon during A Song of Praise (ASOP) Music Festival 2012. She also sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow" at a benefit concert
In 2005, Kyla began dating PBA player Rich Alvarez. Their relationship was closely followed by the media. After six years of dating, the couple announced their engagement on 10 February 2011. During her announcement at Party Pilipinas, Kyla performed her song, "Beautiful Days". Upon revealing their engagement video in July Party Pilipinas, she performed "Another You". On 23 October, Kyla and Jay R performed their last duet together before Kyla's marriage.
On 6 November 2011, Kyla sang a song written for her by Brian McKnight, "My Heart", which became her wedding song.
Engagement and wedding
Though Kyla and Rich were both very much involved in the wedding preparations, the couple preferred to keep the wedding itself and the details at a very low key
Kyla mentioned that she would not be singing at her wedding as she wants her friends to sing for her at this time. Following the release of their engagement video in Party Pilipinas on July 2011, Kyla revealed that the wedding would take place on 28 November 2011 at Santuario de San Antonio, a church between Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.
A day after the ceremony, a church wedding video was released featuring the song Beautiful Days, the song Kyla wrote for Rich five years ago.
GMA Network aired "A Beautiful Day: Kyla & Rich Alvarez Wedding Day TV special" on 10–11 December 2011, including the couple's personal story. On 13 March 2014, Kyla admitted to having first married Rich in secret prior to their November 2011 wedding. The two originally tied the knot in April 2011 through a civil wedding ceremony.