WANDERLUST| Gabrielle on the rise

AT A VERY young age of 16, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Gabrielle Gross is gradually getting her audience’s attention whenever she sings with her now signature soulful, low register.

After she performed an eclectic mix of R&B, OPM and pop ditties during her recent gig at Blah Blah Blah Kitchen + Bar, she crowned the set with Pinoy love song favorite “Ikaw Lang” and the Cebuano classic “Usahay” – all reinvented with a modern, acoustic take.



“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember and never had professional singing lessons. Since my dad is a singer, I’ve always been exposed to that environment. I have my dad to thank for that,” she shared to the local press after her gig.

SINGING "Usahay" with dad Chad Borja

SINGING “Usahay” with dad Chad Borja

Dad is, of course, Cebuano balladeer Chad Borja who gave us the OPM hits “Kung Ako Lang Sana” and yes, “Ikaw Lang”. He is married to a beautiful Dabawenya Emy Gross.

WITH the local press and bloggers

WITH the local press and bloggers

“One time when she performed in school, I noticed the unique timbre and quality of her voice. And her range – she can actually song sings with higher notes, but we prefer she sing in low key, which actually suits her just perfectly,” shared Chad.

Gabrielle was “officially discovered” when a radio station was launched in Butuan back in 2015 and her dad was one of the guest performers.

“Gabrielle was requested to do a duet with Chad, and they did a beautiful Broadway medley. That’s when we knew that there is something very special in her,” said Joey Dichoso, a former recording industry bigwig and now a partner of Studio1 Artists Management and Events, along with George Booke, Jake Valeroso, Homer Sajonia and Chad.

Their agency manages Mindanawon talents, including Thea & Empty Canvas, and Gabrielle.

Her management team then made her perform along with a visiting 50-piece German brass orchestra at SM Lanang Premier two years ago, and the response they got from the crowd was simply overwhelming.

“It was my baptism of fire,” she said. “At first I got anxious but dad always tells me to just enjoy what I’m doing.”

Chad would remind her every so often, especially before a gig, to “stand up so that she can stretch”, and “not to be stiff”.

“If I really want to learn how to perform, the best advice is really from him because of his experience. And he knows what’s best for my voice and my performance,” she proudly said.

However, it’s totally different when one is training a talent and when one is coaching his own daughter.

EMY, Gabrielle and Chad

EMY, Gabrielle and Chad

“One time before we performed ‘Usahay’ in Cebu, he told me to just relax, over and over again. And I’m, like, ‘dad, chill’. I know it’s just a dad thing,” she reminisced in jest.

Of course, her mom was as supportive as her dad.

“She always reminds me to be humble. She keeps me grounded. My mom’s very hardworking. Always making sure that I’m eating well and that I’m taking care of voice,” Gabrielle shared.

CHATTING with the local media

CHATTING with the local media

“As parents, we always want the best for our children. That’s why we support them in what they love to do. Chad believes that it’s better to start them at a young age so they can master their craft well,” said Emy.

Gabrielle is currently homeschooled along with her younger sister Mafy, at Brainworks School Inc.

Last summer, her management team signed her up with Ivory Music and released a digital single titled “A Song Inspired By You”.

“I am very proud of my very first composition being recorded into a single. It’s not really written for a particular person but more of the idea of liking someone,” she shared.

The song was warmly received and was followed by a Jimmy Borja composition, “Secrets”.

Her songs and well-attended gigs have slowly established Gabrielle as one of the country’s budding artists. She even got a guesting stint in Manila’s highly popular Wish FM Mobile Radio Bus. Her performance garnered her a Promising Artist of the Year and Best Contemporary Folk Song (for “A Song Inspired By You”) nomination.

Now, why is this millennial singing folk, jazz and blues?

“Honestly, I kind of take inspiration from my mom. She would suggest songs for me. I listen to a lot of Michael Jackson, too, so from that genre, I kinda venture it out. I also have social media to thank because now it’s so easy to go back and listen to old music,” was her reply.

Aside from a bunch of “old school” artists, like Jackson and Stevie Wonder, she also gets influence from her generation’s music.

“I listen to Corey Kelly, AJ Rafael, Jessie Barrera, and Pentatonix – they’re very cool especially on how they sing songs and make it their own, I kinda take inspiration from that as well,” she said.

Yes, that’s how her mix of musical heroes are – eclectic, as eclectic as her repertoire.

“I’m still I’m trying to find out what genre I really want to belong. I’m not even sure myself what type of artist I am yet. I’m still finding out my sound,” Gabrielle bravely shared.

Well, indeed, at 16, it is still a long and exciting journey ahead for her. For now, we all know that she’s learning a lot from her elders and that she’s still finding her own niche, but for sure, she’ll be going places.

Posted in Lifestyle