updated 18 Nov 2011, 13:32
user id password
Fri, Feb 25, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
New Filipino star rises on YouTube
by Pocholo Concepcion

New YouTube sensation Maria Aragon is only 10 years old but has enough confidence to say she "loves to entertain".

The dusky Filipino-Canadian, a resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is also given to saying, "Music is me," and that she got into singing because of Beyonce.

These and other information, posted on the YouTube channel that her elder sister created for her, had gone pretty much unnoticed-until last week, when Lady Gaga got into the picture.

On February 16, Aragon posted a video of herself singing, while playing on the piano, Lady Gaga's latest No. 1 single, "Born This Way".

Entertainment blogger Perez Hilton forwarded the video to Lady Gaga, who not only gave glowing comments, but also invited Aragon to sing with her onstage in a Toronto concert on March 3.

Two days ago, Aragon was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, recounting to the host the amazing turn of events that led to the outspoken Isaac Brock School fifth grader breaking into tears while talking on the phone with the US singer-songwriter.

That was during a guesting at Toronto's Virgin Radio 99.9 FM.

Made Lady Gaga's day

Aragon told DeGeneres, "She (Lady Gaga) said she was having a bad day (and that) I made her day. It's really overwhelming."

DeGeneres was obviously impressed, noting that the video had so far generated over 11 million hits.

She asked Aragon about the coming onstage duet with the flamboyant pop superstar, a recent Grammy winner: "Wow, how're you gonna do that? Are you nervous?"

For a while, Aragon was at a loss for words. Then she said, "She's … up there … and I'm like … only beginning."

DeGeneres' parting shot was encouraging: "She believes in you enough that she asked you to do it … So enjoy it."

What was it about Aragon's video that bowled over a top performer famous worldwide for theatrical stunts?

It was simple-and yet different. While the hit song's original studio version is a full-on dance track, Aragon's cover is a ballad, the better to underscore the lyrics about empowerment: "My mama told me when I was young/ We are all born superstars …"

Aside from the young Filipina's youth and verve, what charmed Lady Gaga was that the slower version gave the song a whole new dimension, and somehow diverted early comparison with Madonna's "Express Yourself".

Reviewing "Born This Way" on, Rob Sheffield had previously written: "Despite the obvious tip of the cap to Madonna's 'Express Yourself' (which was just Madge's knock-off of the Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself"), it's steeped in decades of gay disco tradition-it sounds a lot like Patrick Hernandez's 1978 classic "Born To Be Alive". "Born This Way" sums up all the complex Gaga mythos, all her politics and Catholic angst and smeared lipstick, in one brilliant pop blast."

Pro-gay sentiment

It may unsettle conservative folks to hear a kid like Aragon mouthing the song's pro-gay/lesbian sentiment ("Don't be a drag/Just be a queen/… You're black, white, beige, chola descent/You're Lebanese, you're Orient!"). But, as Aragon says on her YouTube channel: "I'm using this to share (with) everyone my gift of music and the talent that God gave me. I sing, I giggle, I laugh …"

She adds that, although she's never been to the Philippines, she considers herself a Filipina, having been raised by Filipino parents in Canada. She lives with her dad Bienvenido and mom Mitchilin and two siblings.

Also on YouTube, the budding musician reveals that she has not taken formal music lessons: "There are no music sheets, I figured the chords out myself and it's all by ear."

After Arnel Pineda and Charice Pempengco, this new Filipino YouTube star is not only younger-she also seems poised to explore everything that the world can offer.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.