Since its inception in 2007, the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS) have been making great waves in the Philippine music industry.
It was nine years ago when the group released their first self-titled album, Ryan Cayabyab RCS whose carrier single, “Let Me Love You Tonight,” bagged the Best R&B Song at the 21st AWIT Awards. They also gained recognition with the distinction of Best Performance by a New Group in the same event, and in 2011 released their second album RCS Repackaged.
They perform mostly in corporate shows, private gatherings, concerts and tours in the Philippines and abroad. They have awed audiences all over the world as well with international credits including 12 cities in the United States, four provinces of Australia, Canada, the Esplanade in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.
The group was formed after Cayabyab—often called “Mr. C” or “Maestro” in the industry—auditioned and sieved 180 aspirants.
With tests for singing, improvisation, dancing, and overall performance at every phase of the audition, 18 of the most talented artists were chosen, among them Poppert Bernadas, Kaye Tiuseco, and five others who eventually formed the original group.
In the following years, as some members left, new auditions were held finding Erwin Lacsa, Celine Fabie, VJ Caber, Sheerlen dela Cruz, and most recently, Anthony Castillo, to complete the current company of seven.
The members were not required to have studied music, but are expected to be all-around performers. This means they should not only be able to sing excellently, but they should move and carry themselves well onstage too like seasoned professionals.
“There are misconceptions that The Ryan Cayabyab Singers are students of Mr. C.—we are not. We are also not scholars of The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab, although it is our second home because that’s where we rehearse and learn new songs,” Tiuseco said in a press conference on September 8.
The group’s edge lies in the coming together of the members’ different experiences and backgrounds, individual range, ease in choreography and blocking, and the collective youthful enthusiasm that excites audiences when they perform together.
“They sing different genres—some are into Classical, Soul, R & B, Pop, and Broadway. The idea of putting them together is to just say that whenever we have shows, we have to show the audience that there are a lot of different talents Filipinos offer,” said their mentor Cayabyab.
“When we have to do recording, of course it is a must to pick a common ground for the song choice, and that has to be great pop music because we have to do what the people want to hear and see for us to sell. But as a matter of fact, our repertoire spans so many types of music. We did a lot of OPMs in the past and we refurbish it and turn it into our own type of music,” he added.
To mark their ninth anniversary in the music scene, RCS has released Sa Panaginip Lang the group’s third full-length album comprised of 12 songs written by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and half of the tracks by some of the group’s members, set to music of course, by the Maestro.
“Of the 12 tracks, five are actually old Cayabyab songs from 20 years ago. Seven of the tracks are new, with all of the lyrics originally composed by The Ryan Cayabyab Singers. For this particular one, ‘Sa Panaginip Lang Kita Mamahalin,’ it was composed by Vince Lim. Vince was replaced by Anthony Castillo after he made it as a solo and theatre artist. Celine Fabie composed two, Kaye Tiuseco one, and VJ Caber two,” the Maestro explained.
Each of the seven RCS members hails from different backgrounds, and together they engender a brand of artistry that Cayabyab proudly declares can only come from a “dream team.”
When asked how he picks worthy when a member leaves the group the Maestro said, “We announce it publicly and then I ask the members if they also have recommendations. If they have any, they will simultaneously join the auditions. I don’t look for ‘fillers,’ I always look for someone who can contribute to the group, a person who has different kind of talents.”
The composer, music director, conductor and accompanist is also generous when it comes to time. Cayabyab allows his wards to go on solo gigs whenever the group has no scheduled performance. The Maestro allows them to do this because he knows they will gain valuable experience in working with others people in the industry and they can share their learnings with the group.
“Work is work. If the group doesn’t have any gigs they should be able to do other things. But in all honesty, if the RCS have an appointment or performance, they drop everything in favor of the RCS show, except if the person is out of the country or has to be with family,” he noted.
What has left a remarkable impression on RCS audiences through the years is that no matter how each voice is as unique and as powerful as their individual personalities, they deftly manage to blend in harmony and constantly master, re-invent, and deliver a stellar group sound that is always, and unmistakably the result of guidance from the Maestro.
Following the release of Sa Panaginip Lang, the Ryan Cayabyab Singers are preparing to return to the US for a one-month tour in October 2016 to promote Philippine music from the last century.