Kyla and Jay R unite for milestone concert



Her singing partner Jay R may have been absent at the press con earlier this week for their concert slated in September, but R&B singer Kyla took to the podium with ease and gamely fielded questions from reporters.

She even cracked a knock-knock joke as an icebreaker. When asked about her favorite songs or what tracks they planned to include in the concert, she sang snatches from each song in her distinct, breathy style, earning our admiration.

Jay R and Kyla have been singing and collaborating with each other since the early ’90s. They’ve even been shipped with each other—even before shipping was a thing—and are called JayLa by their fans. Together, their chart-topping hits include covers and original songs such as “Let the Love Begin,” “Say That You Love Me,” “Undeniable” and “Back in Time,” the last one chosen as the title for their concert.

“As artists, we usually plan what to do at the start of the year. This concert was unplanned. GNN Pop approached us, asked if we would consider holding a 20th anniversary concert. We said yes… we were so excited,” Kyla said. “We began listing songs we wanted to perform and realized that if we included all of them, the concert would run for four hours!”


The pandemic halted all live performances for three years, but the two continued to keep in touch. “I call him when I need advice, and he does the same. We talk about personal stuff. He’s really a keeper,” she said.

Even Kyla’s husband, former Ateneo cager Rich Alvarez, is unbothered by their closeness. “Sometimes, he would even instruct me to lean in closer when Jay R and I are performing onstage, to make it look more real. Para mas effective.”

Kyla repeated several times how excited she was to perform in concert with Jay R. “We do get together for TV and corporate events, but this time, it’s an actual concert marking our 20th year performing together. It’s really very exciting.”

‘R&B royalty’

The two who are considered “R&B royalty” are only too glad to find that more Filipino singers are embracing this music genre.

“When I hear of other Pinoy R&B singers, I feel happy. It’s like I’m welcoming relatives into my world,” Kyla said.

She recalled how, as a young girl, she wasn’t considered the singer in her family. Her brother was the one who was musically inclined, she said, which her parents encouraged by enrolling him in music classes.

Jay R

Jay R

In school, nobody saw Kyla as a “threat,” but one day, she auditioned for the glee club and she crushed it—mean girls to the left. Her audition piece: Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire,” which she then soulfully sang for us.

Aside from Chaka Khan, Kyla’s musical influences include Ella Fitzgerald, and more recently, Pinoy boy band SB19 and singer Adie.

“I learn something from them. Some time ago, they were listening to us, but now we’re listening to them. As artists, it’s important to continue learning.”

“Back in Time: Kyla and Jay R The Reunion Concert,” on Sept. 2 at the New Frontier Theater in Cubao, is presented by GNN Pop, a subsidiary of GNN Entertainment Productions, and Cornerstone Entertainment. Tickets are available via Ticketnet online and all Ticketnet outlets nationwide. INQ

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