IT WAS Jesse Dann Barretto’s faith that fueled his passion for music.
Listening to piano music played at Sunday service, Jesse fell in love with the musicalinstrument and eventually started learning it with the help of their church’s pianist who became his first mentor, and later developed his skills on his own.
“While attending church service, I learned how to sing and play the piano,” said Jesse in an interview with Cebu Daily News.
Unlike other musicians, the 19-year-old tourism student of the University of Cebu (UC) never went to music school or workshop since he could not afford it.
Born to a family whose musical inclination is next to nothing, except for occasional videoke sessions at home, it was hard for Jesse to learn the piano on his own, but he persevered.
“I learned through listening. I also observed other musicians, then I tried to play the pieces in my own style,” he said.
For Jesse the weekly Sunday service with churchmates allowed him to hone his skillsin singing and playing the piano, where he’d get advice from the choir’s coach.
That is why it came as a surprise when Jesse was selected to be one of the representatives to the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in the voice with accompaniment category.
With this shot at the WCOPA, Jesse is set to conquer Hollywood, buoyed up by his humble beginnings as a worship leader in their church.
“I didn’t have any idea about the competition. It was a friend, who is a WCOPA silver medalist, who urged me to audition and
compete internationally. I was not interested at first. Two days before the auditions, my friend convinced me again. And there’s no harm in trying, so I did,” said Jesse.
According to him, national director Gerry Mercado has high hopes for him in the WCOPA.
“Lisod when you sing and play an instrument at the same time because matunga ang imong attention. But according to our national director, there’s a great chance to bring home the award because not everyone competes in the category because it’s hard,”he said.
The WCOPA will be held in Hollywood, California, from June 30 to July 9, with 60 countries competing in different categories.
“I hope that the WCOPA will help open more doors for Filipino talents,” he said.
One Filipino singer who has brought home major awards in the past WCOPA was Jed Madela.
For now Jesse is polishing his performances in the the five genres—gospel, original composition, rock, open category and variety—of the competition.
Meanwhile he is also seeking the public’s support to finance his trip abroad.
“Lisod kay subsidized ang expenses, it’s not totally free. I am still looking for sponsorsto help me get through the competition. I already got support from relatives and friends but it is still not enough,” he said.