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Regine Velasquez - "Asia's Songbird"

Martin, Regine Takes 3 U.S. Cities
by Leah Salterio

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CONGRATULATIONS to Martin Nievera and Regine Velasquez, who have successfully conquered three U.S. cities in their ongoing, month-long concert tour.

After their Valentine shows - he with ex-wife Pops Fernandez at the Big Dome and she with Michel Legrand at the PICC - Martin and Regine quietly slipped out of the country to do a month-long U.S. concert tour. With them are musical director Louie Ocampo and an entourage of session musicians.

Even before 2002 ended, Fil.-Americans were already scrambling for the best seats in the venues where Martin and Regine were scheduled to perform. Their combined star power drew in some of the biggest Fil.-Am. audiences in recent memory.

Their first stop was Honolulu, where Filipinos came full force and filled the Hawaii Convention Center to capacity.

Then they performed before a sold-out audience at Cox Arena in San Diego, California, even as a heavy downpour fell throughout the day.

Both Martin and Regine were initially concerned about the Chicago show, especially because it was scheduled only three days after the US declared war on Iraq. But the show went on to become one of the most successful parts of the tour, a sell-out at the Arie Crown Theater in downtown Chicago, where Celine Dion also performed last year.

Even the organizers in San Francisco were impressed when Martin and Regine drew enough people to fill up the cavernous Cow Palace.

Martin and Regine will hold their final show at the U.C.L.A. Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles on April 5, before returning to Manila.

Maxi-Media put together the country's two biggest concert artists in one mega-project. The U.S. concert tour is the initial offering of the newly formed Maxi-Media U.S.A. based in Glendale, California. The outfit aims to set a trend by exporting outstanding Filipino artists.

Aside from singing a medley of popular '80s love songs, Martin and Regine also did a medley of '70s OPM music, including "Magkasuyo," "Umagang Kay Ganda" and "I Don't Love You Anymore." They also sang a Broadway medley from the popular musicals like "Miss Saigon," "Starlight Express," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Beauty and the Beast."

Perhaps because of the prevailing mood, their versions of "The Prayer" and "Used to Be" were among the most applauded numbers.

Immediately after the U.S. leg of the tour, Martin and Regine will come home to resume their commitments in Manila, where they will stage their show at the Araneta Coliseum on May 9 and 10.

Unlike the latest Martin and Pops concert, the Martin and Regine act will definitely be a limited-engagement show. Martin has to fly back to Las Vegas to do a solo concert.

More performances of the Martin-Regine world tour are now in the works, to include Hong Kong, Guam and Australia.

Gerard Salonga takes over as as musical director for the two-night Manila show.