Kuh Ledesma reunites with his former band Music and Magic for a concert

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Kuh Ledesma and Music and Magic. Handout

MANILA — Who would have thought that pop diva Kuh Ledesma only earned 50 pesos a night when she started singing with the band Ensalada at the Holiday Inn Manila in the 1970s?

At that time, there were other bands on the music scene, such as Family Birth Control Band with Nonoy Zuniga and Circus Band with Basil Valdez.

Ledesma then joined Rebirth Corporation, which played at the Playboy Club. “They hacked me off of Ensalada and offered me more money,” she said in an interview. “I was doing disco songs. I didn’t think I’d go solo at that time.

She was paid 85 pesos a night, which she said was already decent at the time for an entertainer. “I thought to myself, ‘Bubuka ko lang ang bibig ko, kumikita na ako,'” Ledesma recalled. “Hindi ako gastadora so I was able to save a lot of money.”

It was talent manager Sandra Chavez who convinced Ledesma to start a performing group. “Sandra visited me at the Playboy Club,” Ledesma explained. “She recruited most of the members. The music and the magic were really set up for me. We auditioned at the Alibi Bar, where other members were added.

Music and Magic had nine original members with Ledesma, Bobby Taylo, Butch Elizaldez, Nonoy Mendoza, Angeli Pangilinan-Valenciano, Fe de los Reyes, Eva Caparas, Jet Montelibano and Toto Gentica. Vicky Sevilla-Pangilinan then replaced Pangilinan-Valenciano and Jeanette Casuga-Trevias also joined the group.

Pangilinan-Valenciano is a friend of Chavez, which is why the former was easily recruited for the group. De los Reyes is a friend of Pangilinan-Valenciano and was duped as well. Caparas auditioned, while Gentica, Mendoza, and Montelibano were Ledesma’s bandmates at Ensalada.

When Ledesma and Music and Magic performed at Alibi Bar at the Regent of Manila (now Heritage Hotel), Ledesma was paid P300 per night. “Mayaman na ako noon,” she recalls smiling. “We were doing four shows a week at Alibi Bar – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”

40 YEARS

Music and Magic made every song a production number. “That’s what made the music and the magic,” Ledesma pointed out. “We were a showband. The girls even had choreography for the songs. Douglas Nierras was then our choreographer.

Ledesma thanks every member of Music and Magic for the band’s 40th anniversary concert on January 14, Tuesday, at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Preforming Arts Theater (NPAT).

“It’s really a group effort to bring everyone together for the 40th year,” Ledesma said. “I guess it’s a big milestone to be 40. There were nine original members. Half of them came back just for the show. Now we have a second keyboard. Toto will be the MD (director musical).

“We know most of the songs we’ll sing,” Ledesma continued. “Our repertoire is more about the 70s and 80s, old standards, jazz, Top 40 and Broadway tunes like ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ from ‘Evita’ or ‘Money, Money’ and ‘Willkommen ‘ from ‘Cabaret.’”

Kuh Ledesma and Music and Magic. Handout

Ledesma left Music and Magic after only two years and went solo. “I was already doing a lot of other things at that time,” she explained.

Despite this, there were still shows that were billed “Kuh Ledesma with music and magic”. The band continued until 1986, when band members began pursuing their own careers, settling in or dropping the spotlight for home and family.

DIFFERENT PATHS

Years later, some members have pursued careers away from the entertainment scene. Sevilla-Pangilinan is a dentist and has run the dental department at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City since 2013, though she still makes time to sing at occasional gigs.

Mendoza is the owner and CEO of Midtown Inn and Diner, while Caparas has settled into domestic bliss in Los Angeles, Calif., and has a full-time job. She sings, translates and writes songs for Bread of Life’s Praise and Worship team. Recently, she joined forces with L’Union avec Montelibano.

Most of the band members have remained in music and entertainment, becoming industry mainstays in one capacity or another. They are renowned musical directors, composers, arrangers, music producers, musicians and impresarios for concerts, events, television, theater and film.

Taylo has been the in-house bassist for ABS-CBN’s “ASAP Natin’ To” for years. Elizalde has been part of the Route 70 Band for 17 years now and continues to play clubs, corporate events and concerts.

Elizalde arranged many numbers for Music and Magic’s 40th anniversary concert, while Taylo serves as one of the band’s musical directors.

US-based Trevias is one of Hawaii’s most sought-after musicians, playing regularly at the prestigious Moana Surfrider Hotel and continues to play for artists such as Martin Nievera, who performs regularly on the islands.

Montelibano, who leads ‘Music and Magic 2020,’ may have started out as a performer, but has expanded his horizons into recording, artist management, acting and directing for TV and theater . He moved to the United States and started an entertainment production company.

Pangilinan-Valenciano runs Manila Genesis Entertainment and manages the careers of many artists, including that of her husband Gary Valenciano and their children – Paolo, Gabriel and Kiana.

Gentica got into production with his wife, rocker Lou Bonnevie – including music festival Earthday Jam, now in its 20th year. He also wrote the original musical, “Lapu-Lapu”, which will be revived in 2021 to commemorate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.

De los Reyes-Mendoza continues to sing on the Asian circuit and in North America and has literally made the world his audience.

No matter how far their professional trajectories have come, the members of Music and Magic will all converge for a highly anticipated reunion concert. Gary Valenciano, Lou Bonnevie and Zsa Zsa Padilla join them as special guests.

Gabriela Pangilinan and Kiana Valenciano, daughters of Sevilla-Pangilinan and Pangilina-Valenciano respectively, also provided support, while the latter’s son, Paolo Valenciano, and Ledesma’s daughter, Isabella Gonzalez, offered their professional editing services. for the concert project.

INSPIRED BY ‘TAWAG NG TANGHALAN’

Back when Ledesma was still in high school in Bacolod, she fondly recalls watching “Tawag ng Tanghalan” with her mother. This is what led her to enter the music scene and launched her singing career. Second among four children, Ledesma is the only one of her offspring to have embarked on a professional career in entertainment.

She is the niece of the late Elvira Manahan, her father’s sister. Johnny Manahan is his first cousin.

As a student at Bacolod, Ledesma could already carry a melody and visualize “Kakanta ako one day”. I just didn’t know how it would turn out.

She started to become a nurse in Bacolod and passed the council. She was already a registered nurse when she went to Manila and entered the music scene.

Then she saw Pilita Corrales and Leah Navarro at the Playboy Club and watched them play from the sidelines. “I said, ‘Kaya ko din’ yan. They performed as solo artists. That’s what gave me the idea and the inspiration to go solo,” she recalls.

She released her first international album, “Precious”, in 1997. The 12-track musical release was produced by American producer Zane Giles, who has worked with many international artists, including Gladys Knight. Selections in “Precious” included “I Cried”, written by Odette Quesada, “Bag You”, by Grace Nono and the title track.

“All I know is that it was a very expensive album, but it had some great songs, all well arranged,” Ledesma said. “Maybe the album was too advanced for its time. We want to re-release some of the songs.

Ledesma also had her acting stints on the big screen. In 1982, she appeared in “Oro, Plata, Mata” by Peque Gallaga and her only feature film was released the same year, “Tinimbang ang Langit” by Danny Zialcita, where she was paired with Christopher de Leon.

Also in 1982, Ledesma had the chance to appear in a Hollywood film, “The Year of Living Dangerously” by Peter Weir, starring Mel Gibson and filmed in Olongapo City, which served as the backdrop for Indonesia .

Later, Ledesma also tried to act in teleseryes. “Pero hirap ako sa schedule because of the puyatan,” she lamented. “The last one I did was three years ago. When you work on a TV show, it becomes your life. You can’t do much else. I can’t go on tour for shows. That’s why I’m not asking to participate in another teleserye project these days.

She plans to make a film which she will also produce. “I have a group of people setting it up,” she said. “Just thinking about all the work to produce a film is already tiring. Life shouldn’t be like this.

She will do another US tour with Zsa Zsa Padilla this year. Last September, they also performed together on a tour of the United States. And towards the end of the year, Ledesma should mark his 40th year on the music scene with a big solo concert.

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