Her soulful music has captured the hearts of many Filipinos alike. Her voice is as unique as her name. Showbiz was her playground when she was a kid, training her early in the career that would make her famous. She already had the genes of an entertainer through her mother, though her path would take a slightly different turn. Her real name is Maria Luisa
Ramsey, more popularly recognized as Jaya.

She is the Philippine Queen of Soul, her name as ubiquitous as her music. Citing heavy influences in R&B acts such as Mary J. Blige and Toni Braxton, she clearly is one of the few Filipino talents who brought soul in OPM. The name “Jaya” was coined by an American producer who signed her with the LMR record label in New York.Before the record deal, though, she was to become a backup singer for musician Stevie B. Louise. She was already performing then for the Filipino community as backup for her comedienne and singer Elizabeth Ramsey. She would dance and sing with her mother, though, it wasn’t always ideal; and life was very difficult for them. Jaya decided to run away from home after finishing high school.Her single If You Leave Me Nowwas heard on the radio in 1989 and landed the U.S. Billboard Top 40 charts. The remarkable thing was that it was popular based on the strength of the record alone, since a music video was never produced. This was unheard of in the industry at that time; however, it was also the reason it never had the success it deserved.

After reuniting with her mother, she continued performing as front acts for Filipino talents such as Reycards and Eddie Mercado. Her break came in 1995 when she opened for Asia’s Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales. Corrales saw her potential and immediately invited her to record an album in the Philippines, whom the Cebuana left when she was only 15.Rhythm and blues was never popular in the Philippines even in the early nineties. Early attempts on the genre only gained moderate success and never caught with the masses. Jaya released her self-titled album for Viva records in 1996 and gave her career a complete turnaround; in addition, it boosted the country’s acceptance of R&B. This included instant hits such as “Dahil Tanging Ikaw” and “Laging Naroon Ka.” Her Jamaican descent and deep voice catapulted the album to octuple platinum record. That was no easy feat hardly repeated by any newcomer.

The album also reaped her awards from the music and entertainment industry. Three of the singles became official soundtracks of Viva romance films, one even becoming the title of the movie itself (Dahil Tanging Ikaw, 1997). She followed it up with another hit album the following year. In the Raw brought chart toppers “Dahil Ba Sa Kanya” and “Wala Na Bang Pag-ibig” and gained quadruple platinum status. Once again, the two singles became titles of Viva movies released on those years. She has produced a total of 8 albums, the latest being Fall in Love Again in 2005.

Nobody can deny her contribution to the music scene. Her success paved the way for later acts such as South Border and Freestyle. Currently, she is married and a happy mother while juggling between her hosting and singing career in the GMA Network. Every Sunday, fans can listen to her music as she goes back to back with music greats like Janno Gibbs, Ogie Alcasid , and Regine Velasquez on the noon variety show SOP, and later in the night, she shares the floor with Alan K. in K! The 1,000,000 Karaoke Challenge.

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