Two former band vocalists find niche as soloists singing standards

MANILA, Philippines — Singers Arthur Manuntag and Thor may have separately developed their stage presence as band frontmen playing mainstream upbeat music. Yet, they found relative success as solo acts, crooning usually laid-back standards.

Both of them are now in the thick of fight, earning the respect of the artist community and scoring gigs with their oldies repertoire. The former is being dubbed as “the Tony Bennett of The Philippines,” the latter recently performed at the “David Foster Friends” Manila concert where he sang “The Last Time” with Foster playing piano.

Manuntag shares, “When I was a young boy, my dad used to bring me to a nearby resto to play jukebox with the music of Sinatra, Matt Monro and Diomedes Maturan. I am really attracted to the big band and crooners’ era ‘coz magaan sa tenga. The lyrics are simple but very meaningful; may puso ang karamihan ng songs nung panahon nila. And I owe this type of genre bigtime ‘coz nakilala ako sa industry somehow mula nung nag-switch ako sa ganitong music.”

Thor, on the other hand, used to fill his live set with up-tempo RB numbers, only to realize that his voice is meant to sing soulful songs. In fact, he was recruited by a couple of international soul jazz musicians to record tracks in Spain, resulting to the 2008 European album release by a band called Satya Project, where he was guest vocalist.

“Performing with David Foster was a milestone for me. I actually didn’t plan to go solo kaya that moment was a realization that I’m on the right track,” explains the ex-choirboy from Davao who is now with Cornerstone Talent Management Center that houses the likes of Richard Poon and Sam Milby.

Manuntag used to sing for ’90s act Second Wind which popularized the song “Pain In My Heart.”

Thor released his “Soul Obsessions” album in 2007 that boasted his collaborations with marquee acts like Jay Durias, Nina, MYMP, Jinky Vidal, and Luke Mejares.

The two balladeers are starring in separate concerts this week. Manuntag will perform at the Hard Rock Café today (Nov. 23) for his “Back To My Roots” show that should interestingly allow his audience to see him peform stuff he once delivered as band vocalist.

Thor gets to headline the last of the “Got Fridays @ Teatrino” on Friday (Nov. 25).

The concept gig series hatched by director Freddie Santos started in September and has featured also-rising stars such as Krissy Ericka, 3AM, Kris Lawrence, and Gian Magdangal.

Asked about that one goal they want to achieve in their so-far so-good-run, the two replied, “My biggest dream is to have my own signature songs, ‘yung may recall kaagad like Martin Nievera to the hit song ‘Be My Lady.’”

Thor, in saying his piece, expressed wanting to do a new album and collaborate with Kyla and Ella Mae Saison.

The once notoriously shy guy, now being considered to tour with David Foster abroad, says with a confident tone, “By this time I guess handa na ako kahit sa anong klaseng stage.”

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