Transitioning from Charice to Jake Zyrus
Singer Jake Zyrus talks about his transition from female pop star Charice
When Filipino singer Jake Zyrus came out as a transgender man last year, it took many by surprise.
His new image is a drastic change from what most people remember him as - pop diva Charice Pempengco, the petite YouTube powerhouse best known for the hit song Pyramid and her 2010 self-titled debut album, Charice. It entered the Billboard 100 at No. 8 , making it the first album of an Asian solo singer to land in the Top 10.
Zyrus, whose former mentor was notable US music producer David Foster, had also appeared (as Charice) on talk shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show and starred in US TV series Glee as supporting character Sunshine Corazon.
Last October, he formally unveiled his new self in a concert in the Philippines, titled I Am Jake Zyrus, and disclosed that he had his breasts removed and had begun testosterone treatment.
Zyrus, who recently released his latest Tagalog single, DNM, on Spotify, told The New Paper in a Skype interview: "I have lost some fans, but I have also gained some after my transition. I am really thankful for the ones who stayed."
His previous Tagalog release, Hiling (or Request), hit the top spot on Philippines Spotify.
I have lost some fans, but I have also gained some after my transition. I am really thankful for the ones who stayed.Jake Zyrus
On musical challenges, he admitted: "It is harder now to reach the high notes as compared to Charice. But the change is the most exciting part."
Vocal range aside, becoming a man has not been easy.
The 26-year-old recalled: "My family is religious, and it was hard to come out to them. But I have no doubt about my decision to transition."
Since, Zyrus has been hit by a backlash, but he's learnt to deal with it.
He said: "Before my transition, I thought a lot about what others would say, but it hurt me and I realised I couldn't keep thinking that way. Now I think more about my feelings, and I can handle things much better."
But Zyrus does not want to be seen as an LGBT champion.
He said: " I just hope people can see me as (someone who is) brave enough to show my real identity to the world. There will be people who will hurt you, but the moment you learn to ignore them, you are free."
For future music releases, he is eager to try genres such as jazz, pop and R&B, but he plans to stay in the Philippine music scene for now.
Said Zyrus: "I am starting over as an artist, and I am much more comfortable with myself. It has really been a journey to get here. Charice was a little girl, a pop star. I feel much better about myself now. I am much more confident."