Philippine-born Rica Arambulo has carved a special niche in pop music. The powerhouse singer-pianist has also been known for her work as keyboardist, musical director, and award winning composer-arranger. Starting out as a classical piano wunderkind excelling at competitions, Rica also played drums, percussion, recorder, organ, and sang at the school choir. She obtained a bachelor's degree (major in piano, minor in voice) cum laude at the University of the Philippines College of Music (UP). At the UP she was a Maria Mota scholar and was consistently awarded the highest grade in piano and music theory. She also studied composition and furthered her studies at Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, California. Since her undergraduate years, Rica played keyboards in several bands. Since turning pro, she has done many live concerts, TV, and theater, as arranger, session keyboardist, vocalist, and musical director. As songwriter, Rica co-wrote Dahan-dahan, To Be Near You, and Tender Kisses, which were all commercial hits. She placed third in the 1998 Metropop Festival, a nationwide songwriting competition, with her entry, You Make Me Smile. In 1999, she collaborated with Louie Ocampo and Wilbur Victoria on Baclaran the musical. Rica released her self-titled debut CD under Viva/Cake records. The album shows another facet of her artistry - as singer. The 13-track album contains all-original compositions, mostly keyboard-based ballads (Ikaw at Ako Pa Rin, Dahan-dahan, Missing You, Should I Stay, Falling, Should've Been Me). The album strips away old formulas - less frills, all down-home goodness. The other songs dwell on the spiritual (Hold Out Your Hand, Safe In Your Arms), addiction (So Demanding), social issues (Amanda), the thrill of a summer getaway (Summer's Here). Her musical influences range from classical to rock, R&B, jazz, new age, folk, and electronica. Several cuts on the CD have found their way to the FM stations. The album has been nominated twice at the 15th Awit Awards. In 2003, Rica became the first Filipino recording artist-producer to grace the MIDEM 35th International Music Market in Cannes. Her CD is the first Philippine-produced CD to be sold at cdbaby.com, the world's largest indie music website. Together with her band, Rica has performed her originals at the Philippine International Jazz Festivals. She is currently completing tracks for her much-awaited follow-up studio album. Rica admits that singing her own songs is one the most powerful means of musical expression. "And it happens to be the most fulfilling art form ever created." Rica Arambulo is a study in contrasts. Rica's velvety rich vocals and virtuoso keyboards combines classic and contemporary, strength and femininity, tradition and modern edge. Like a gem cut to perfection, Rica Arambulo provides a refreshing alternative to the jaded music listener's fare.
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