CEBU, Philippines–Lea Salonga had her Miss Saigon. Ariel Pineda had his life with Journey. One thing they have in common? Having the courage to take their chances, in trying, and trying again; until the odds leaned towards their favor, helping them reach the peak of their respective careers.
That is what ConPop champion, VisPop and Philpop x Himig Handog 2023 finalist, Jimmy Ricks Grajo is trying to live by, as he continues to strive hard in being the next “big thing” in the world of music.
Jimmy Ricks Grajo, often called ‘Jimmy’ or ‘Jim’ by his friends and family, is a fourth year Computer Engineering student from Cebu Technological University – Danao Campus.
He lives with his family in Consolacion, Cebu and planted his roots to his craft, mainly in music and academics, in the same municipality as well.
“Grade 2 ko, 8 years old. Gipa skwela ko og drums sa ako papa kay ang drummer sa amoang music ministry naminyo na,” Grajo told CDN during an interview.
Grajo then expressed that it started there and then, that his appreciation to music grew larger; as he began digesting the beats of the drums he was playing, how it sounded natural at first, but grew rhythmic in time.
“It started with drums, then self-taught na dayon ko sa uban instruments. I learned guitar, keys, bass, ukulele and all sorts of instruments all by myself, kay curious kaayo ko, as well as ganahan kaykog music jud,” he expressed.
During his high school years, Grajo was exposed to ‘jazz chant,’ and jingle-making contests in school, while having choir activities in Church, which led him to meeting the individuals who willingly aided him in pursuing his passion for music, even at an early age.
As of this writing, Grajo is a one-man-team when it comes to making music. From writing the lyrics to making and producing the beats, Grajo does it all by himself.
With his trusted phone and personal computer by his side, alongside his instruments casually leaning on his bedroom walls, Grajo has surpassed the expectations of many.
Although, this does not mean that the journey to being known as a musician was smooth-sailing for Grajo.
During the interview, Grajo shared with CDN Digital that one of the hardest things he experienced as a solo musician, while still being a student, was getting his music out in the open, accessible to all Cebuanos.
“Lisod jud (siya) given nga I have to do everything; music, singing, producing, graphics, promotions, share-share pa sa uban, and all. Lisod jud (siya),” says Grajo.
Fortunately for him, this problem quickly dissipated as he began uploading music videos on Tiktok; gaining views almost instantly to 4 million, and likes reaching approximately to about 532, 000.
Grajo told CDN that if it were not for risking posting his music videos on Tiktok, he could still be grappling for views and traction for his music.
“Na bless lang ko kay ni viral akong contents on Tiktok and Facebook, which made way pud for my music to spread,” Grajo added.
On top of that, Grajo extended his reach by uploading his songs onto the music platform Spotify, where a selection of his discography is now featured. As of writing, he impressively garnered an audience of 6,000 monthly listeners on the platform.
Aiming to reach greater heights inside the music industry, Grajo darted his first shot on to a wider audience. In 2022, Grajo joined the songwriting contest of Visayan Pop (VisPop) X Songwriting Contest, as well as joining the first ever PhillPoP x Himig Handog Songwriting Festival.
After his initial attempt, Grajo concluded his venture into VisPop, securing the 30th position in April 2022. Despite the outcome and the extended period of anticipation for the PhillPoP x Himig Handog Songwriting Festival finalists’ announcement, Grajo remained undeterred.
He was determined to challenge himself anew, aiming to make the most of his available time and ascertain if he could attain more favorable results.
Grajo also wanted to prove to himself that he could improve his performance in some aspects that needed improving.
Indeed, an avenue opened up for Grajo, wherein he could continue honing his love for music.
A month after VisPop, he joined the first ever Consolacion Music Pop fest, returning back to his home municipality with the new knowledge and information he gathered all throughout his journey, and a refreshed confidence to pursue his passion even more stronger.
And, as luck would have it, in February 5, 2023, Grajo won the municipality’s first Consolacion Popular (ConPop) Music festival with his song, ‘Atong Suwayan’; proving that his doubts were indeed superficial.
“Vispop Top 30 ko before Conpop pero I was not satisfied with it kay almost ra jud makasud sa semis. Mao to, when I won CONPOP, boom, naabli tanan doors! Opportunities here and there to… Nag sunod-sunod na man to tanan after sa ConPop,” Grajo expressed.
According to Grajo, after winning ConPop, everything aligned with his dreams.
In July 2023, Grajo made another attempt in joining VisPop’s competition with his original piece titled “Nanasad Ta Ani.” And, as though his prayers had been heard, his persistence bore fruit as he successfully secured a spot in the semi-finals stage of the mentioned event.
Jimmy’s secret to success
In a twist of fate, Grajo’s desires found alignment with the heavens.
On July 23, 2023, the PhillPoP x Himig Handog Songwriting Festival finally unveiled the list of finalists for their upcoming finale this coming March 2024, with Grajo emerging as one of the chosen 12 finalists for this musical event.
Adding to this achievement, on August 20, VisPop disclosed the finalists for its 11th season, in which Grajo impressively secured the fifth spot still with his song, ‘Nanasad Ta Ani,’ once again proving his remarkable talent and consistency.
His secret to success? Perseverance, and not to be scared of the unknown.
“SUWAYI NA! Take the risk, take the chance, pursue everything you want. Naa gyud isa ana na will be for you and yours alone,”
Grajo remains poised to persevere in the PhillPop x Himig Handog finals competition, while also gearing up to compete for a spot in VisPop’s finale on January of 2024. Approaching these challenges once again, Grajo is armed with more wisdom and expertise gathered from his journey so far, demonstrating his willingness to take risks and embrace growth.
Just like the lyrics to his song say, “atong suwayan, basin mababa-an.”