“The Greatest Showman” has occupied a lot of space on our feed the past several weeks. Such a beautiful film that has entertained and inspired us, especially those of us who work in music. So when a friend gets booked to be part of the ensemble that will sing and dance with Keala Settle to present “This Is Me” as nominee for Best Original Song at the 90th Annual Academy Awards, it’s news you just need to share with everyone.
I’m as excited for Lito Villareal at this moment as I was many years ago when a couple of truly remarkable events led to his decision to move to the US:
For those who don’t know who Lito is: he’s a big guy with a beautiful tenor voice. I met him through the late Greg Caro, an active jingle producer for whom we both recorded in the late 90’s. Around that time, Lito was doing music for such Philippine musicales as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” where he also performed as Aslan, the lion king of Narnia. He also performed in the Philippine production of “Les Miserables” and “Joseph The Dreamer.”
I cannot help but think how perfect Lito was for the ensemble. “This Is Me” is an artist's anthem, a song about finding what makes you different and celebrating it. It could very well have been inspired by Lito himself. He was born with a deaf right ear, which caused him a lot of physical pain in his early childhood. Doctors and specialists told his parents his condition had no cure. But one day when he was about 11, a missionary couple visited him and prayed a simple prayer for Lito to be healed. After years of deafness, pain and suffering, Lito was healed completely. This molded him into a person with rock-solid faith in God, which would be reflected in his work as an artist.
With hardly anything more than people’s encouragement and his own faith that moving to the US was what God wanted for him, he did so in the early 2000’s to build a career from scratch. He worked for a talent agency first, and then some other media company after that. Both were full-time jobs, which made it quite difficult to squeeze in time for auditions as a singer and actor.
Well, it seems God has always had big plans for Lito. Last July, circumstances led to Lito’s decision to go free-lance. Now on a flexible schedule, he found himself in the audience of The Price Is Right. Not only did he get picked to play, but he actually ended up winning the Grand Prize at the end of the show! Watch Lito's segments of that episode here:
And then some time last week, he got an email from a theater company looking for actors who could sing. He sent in a video, proceeded to audition, got called back and was eventually told that he would be one of 26 people singing and dancing with Keala Settle on Oscars Night. He was fitted for a Calvin Klein suit, scheduled for rehearsals, and even got picked along with 3 other people to record the song with the original singers who sang in the film, some of them flown in from New York. What a surreal experience!
Had he not decided to go free-lance last July, neither The Price Is Right nor the Oscars would have happened to Lito. We can’t help but marvel at God’s perfect timing, and how He reveals Himself to us in such wonderful ways.
Here’s hoping and praying more opportunities and great experiences come your way, Lito! You make us proud! We’ll always be rooting for you.
My name is Trina Belamide and I'm a songwriter and record producer.
GreatSongsToSing is my online store and I thank you for dropping by! Do comment on my blog posts. I'd love to hear from you!
Learn more about me on www.trinabelamide.com.