More than two weeks ago, I promised to let you know more about singer Hanna de Guzman. Perhaps you missed that post, but that’s when I shared her awesome duet with A Great Big World’s Ian Axel.
I already gave a bit of intro from that page. I think I’ll let this interview do the talking, so to speak (and pun intended) 😉
The beautiful Hanna De Guzman
1. When did you realize that you were born to sing? Did someone influence you?
I’ve known since I was a child actually. According to my mom, Jessie Retizos, when I was just about ten-months-old (I guess), I would just throw away my feeding bottle whenever I heard music and start humming to the tune of any song from the radio. Then at three, I would just get her hairbrush and use it as microphone while I stood on a table, singing any popular song during that time. At five, I would be singing as Mommy played the piano.
Sometimes, I accompanied her to band rehearsals, so I grew up with that kind of environment where my uncle would play bass guitar and drums and Mommy would play the piano, especially when she composed songs for Ms. Pilita Corrales and the late Didith Reyes…
Exhibit A: Hanna, aged 8 then, singing her heart out as uncle Nato Burog played lead/bass guitar
Music has always been a part of my life, it has been my passion since I was a child. My mom did not really influence me, it’s just that I really grew up with that kind of environment. And if there was someone who might have influenced me to really sing, it was my uncle, the late Renato Burog, who was a great musician (singer, pianist, bass guitarist). When Tito Nato (Uncle Nato) first heard me sing at six, he told my mom, “At last, we have a singer in the family!”
2. When was the first time you joined a singing contest? Kindly share to us…
Tito Nato urged me to compete in an amateur singing contest in San Pablo City, where all my fellow contenders were aged 20+ and, believe it or not, I was only eight-years-old at that time. Good thing there was no age limit! He was my first voice coach during that time and the first winning piece I sang was “Tomorrow” by Lea Salonga. I was so happy then because I was the youngest contestant yet I won a consolation prize!
It was indeed an unforgettable experience for me because at such a young age, I competed with not just amateurs but even professional singers already. That was the time I really told myself, I was really born to sing… 🙂
3. How would you describe to us your singing voice? What are your advantages and limitations, if any?
Eversince I was a child, I’ve always had a somewhat husky voice. When I joined a chorale group back in college, which was the UPLB Choral Ensemble, they classified my voice as Alto 1, Soprano 2.
The current UPLB Choral Ensemble. Image is is copyrighted to them, of course
Alto voice had always been my comfort zone and when I started to learn some techniques and developed a wider voice range, that’s when I began to also sing some parts of Soprano 2 where I have/had to use falsetto (false voice). I guess being able to sing as both a Soprano 2 and Alto 1 is an advantage. [Ed. But where’s my advantage??? I’ve always said I’m Alto 1, Soprano 2. I think I am Alto 1, my high school music teacher–and this was the same director of the Glee Club from which the Ensemble originated–she would say Soprano 2…But why, why, WHY don’t I have Hanna’s kind of voice??? *envious-much*]
My limitations, well my voice sometimes gets affected whenever there is a weather change since I have allergic rhinitis, so I see to it to really stay away from drinking cold beverages and eating too much sweets especially when I have a performance.
4. I assume that singing has helped you at least once in your personal life. Can you share to us how, please? How about in your more professional life?
Whenever I have personal problems and am feeling lonely and depressed, I just sing to release my emotions. Singing has been my outlet. It really fills the emptiness in me.
In my professional life, singing puts back the balance in my life. I really enjoy it whenever we have company parties and programs because I get to sing again. It lessens the stress and pressure from work and helps me to remember I am still a normal human being. My best way to de-stress is through singing again.
5. Any plans of becoming a recording artist or maybe following in your mom’s footsteps? How about doing on-stage musicals?
The equally beautiful and very talented Jessie Retizos, Hanna’s mom
At my age? Well, we can never tell. I never stop dreaming of becoming a recording artist, because that has always been my ultimate dream. I guess I am just waiting for the perfect opportunity.
To follow in my mom’s footsteps, I once tried to compose a song, so back in 2003, I joined a jingle-making contest sponsored by a wellness-and-beauty products company. I composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the song “Achieve” that I also interpreted. Luckily, I won the Grand Prize…As for on-stage musicals, back in college, I once auditioned for Repertory Philippines‘ My Fair Lady, unfortunately, I did not make it to the final screening.
6. You joined the popular Tawag ng Tanghalan competition back in March. I personally felt you should have won that round, bias aside. But how did you find the whole experience as an actual participant?
Joining Tawag ng Tanghalan was such a good learning experience for me. It was not exactly planned after all. I just happened to watch one of their episodes and I challenged myself to see if I could still do it even at the age of 40. So I secretly auditioned alone and luckily got in. Honestly, my goal in joining TNT was not to win, really, but just to be able to perform on national TV without being “gonged”. [Ed. Many much-older singers have joined and even won, for the record. Meanwhile, being gonged literally means that: the judges decide to not let you continue if they don’t like your performance and you usually find out the hard way–someone hits a giant gong and your several moments of glory are finished.]
[Ed. UPDATE: Sorry if the vid seems to be delayed. I think they’re just screenshots. The sound is working well, though. The original vid I shared when I posted this is now set on private, for some reason. It’s got me peeved, but…Oh, well…]
I just wanted my kids to watch me on national TV and that would be it. So when I saw the face of the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Rey Valera, enjoying while I was singing, I felt I was a winner already. Being able to sing the whole song with no flat notes or by not being out of tune, I felt it was already a big achievement. I learned my lesson, though. Next time, I will not just aim to perform well, but to really WIN and Go for the Gold!
7. What about this Smule-ing thing, what made you decide to do all those duets? And where do you get all those awesome singing friends?
I just missed singing then and upon checking my Smule account, I found out I had been getting numerous invites already from one of my best friends, Richard Delos Angeles, who now resides in Italy and happened to be one of my contenders in the Inter-School Singing Contest back in high school. So when I listened to some of his recorded songs and saw that I could do a collab with him, I immediately recorded songs with him. Then I also did a collab with another best friend, Chriselle Samiano, who’s in the USA and we did a recording of the song “All of Me”…
Of course, I miss our duets of years before, so thanks to Smule, though we are a thousand miles apart, we get to have our virtual duets.
8. Were you at all surprised about the invitation from A Great Big World? How did you feel?
Hanna gets to sing a duet of “Say Something” with artist Ian Axel
At first, I was surprised since I was just a new user of Smule. I checked them out in YouTube, they had a duet with Christina Aguilera with that song “Say Something”, that’s when I realized how lucky I really was to be invited to have a collab with them. And I really enjoyed singing that song with Ian!
9. Is there anything that should stop you from singing?
I cannot think of any…As long as I live, I will keep on singing and praising the Lord through my songs!
10. What is your biggest achievement as a singer? What do you still hope to achieve?
The Happy Family. Mommy Jessie, Hanna and the kids
My biggest achievement as a singer was to be able to serve the Lord through my songs. I used to be a Psalmist in San Pablo City Cathedral and whenever I sang the words of God, I realized my purpose, that was to sing not just to entertain people, but to evangelize as well and touch their hearts, singing the words of God. Another achievement is being able to pass on my God-given talent to my two kids. Seeing them singing and performing like me is priceless.
I hope I can still continue to serve the Lord through my songs and to make my kids be good performers, realize that their purpose of having their talents is to share and use our voices for God’s greater glory!
Thank you so much to Hanna for sharing herself and her talent! You are so blessed 🙂
BTW, all images, save from that of the chorale, belong to Hanna…For more interviews, just search for #AskWednesday using the search box, easy does it. Meanwhile, perhaps you’d like to share about yourself as well. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide me a background.