Everything you need to know about singer Jake Zyrus, formerly Charice Pempengco


Everything you need to know about singer Jake Zyrus, formerly Charice Pempengco

The Filipino singer and Glee guest star formerly known as Charice Pempengco now goes by the new name, Jake Zyrus.

Zyrus, 25, debuted the new moniker on Twitter and Instagram Sunday — almost three years after revealing to Oprah Winfrey that “my soul is male.”

Since rising to international stardom in late 2007, the Tagaytay native became the first Asian solo singer in history to land in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart with the release of 2010’s Charice, which debuted at No. 8.

Since the episode of Winfrey’s “Where Are They Now?” aired in October 2014, Zyrus has kept a low-profile — until now.

Here are six things you need to know about Jake Zyrus:

1. A star’s beginning: The reality TV show circuit

Zyrus’ mom Raquel discovered her child’s singing abilities when her eldest sang a big-ballad rendition of “Happy Birthday” at age 4. “My mom would do anything for me and my brother Carl,” Zyrus told USA Today in October 2010.

Three years later, at age 7, Zyrus started competing in local singing contests, entering nearly a hundred competitions before eventually earning a spot in 2005 on Little Big Star, a kid-oriented Filipino talent show loosely based on American Idol“It was my idea. We didn’t have much money and I wanted to help,” Zyrus recalled.

A third place finish with a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” may not have been the ultimate goal, but the exposure caught the eyes of a fan, who uploaded the Little Big Star performance on YouTube. “It got like a million hits. That’s why I got discovered for a Korean talent show,” Zyrus explained to the New York Daily News in May 2010.

Immense popularity on YouTube led to multiple appearances on the South Korean talent show Star King, London’s The Paul O’Grady Show, and Zyrus’ American TV debut in December 2007 on Ellen DeGeneres‘ NBC daytime talk show.

2. Rise to fame under the tutelage of Oprah and David Foster

Following the massive success of Charice in May 2008 (it went platinum in 2009), Zyrus was invited to perform on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the episode titled “World’s Smartest Kids” and belted out Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”

“One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she’s faced in her life, she’s never given up on her dream of something better,” Oprah said at the time.

After taping the episode, one phone call from Oprah to Grammy-winning record producer David Foster changed the course of Zyrus’ career. Instead of flying back to the Philippines, Oprah producers pulled the young talent off the plane to bring Zyrus back to Harpo Studios, where Oprah and Foster discussed how they could help launch a new singing sensation.

Zyrus ended the year by meeting Josh Groban and Michael Bublé, and even singing with Foster in Las Vegas, with Andrea Bocelli in the Tuscan countryside and with Céline Dion at Madison Square Garden.

This story was originally published on People.com.

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