Billy: Home is where the dream is

PNS — THE much-awaited return of international R&B/dance/pop superstar Billy Crawford also marked the formalization of his exclusive booking contract with ALV Talent Circuit.

Headed by talent manager Arnold Vegafria, the company also handles the careers of such stars as Pops Fernandez, Jay-R, Iya Villania, Chesca and Patrick Garcia, Bianca King, the Hale Band, Kris Lawrence, Nancy Castiglione and many others.

Home is where the dream is, and one man is about to fulfill the dreams and chart the destinies of several young, aspiring Filipino talents.

“Back in the States, everybody tells me, ‘The Philippines? !? Damn, there’s a lot of freakin’ talented singers out there, and they‘re amazing!’”

That’s a very excited Billy Crawford who recently flew back to Manila for his much talked-about hosting stint for ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Dream Academy. Flying straight into the eye of the storm, so to speak, the 26-year-old seemed unfazed by the whirlwind of controversy triggered by his surprising transfer to ABS-CBN.

Not one to dodge pressing issues about loyalty, Billy boldly asserted, “If people ask me where my loyalty is, I’d say my loyalty is very strong family-and personal-wise. But my loyalty to my job is wherever my contract is, because that’s what’s legal.

“My management office in the States gave me the blessing to go ahead, and after some exploratory talks with Arnold and his group, it seemed like we share a common vision, which is a good portent of things to come,” he says.

Anchoring Pinoy Dream Academy will be a breeze for Billy. “It’s funny because I’m really familiar with PDA, since they have it in France,” he explains. “And it’s huge out there, you know. And I think it’s a great way of getting young talents to be shown to and be judged by the public. And I really, really hope that people would actually find it in their hearts to vote not just because of how they look, but by the total package.”

Being at the helm of PDA also affords him the chance to flaunt his wares, as he shares centerstage with the guests and dabbles in a few production numbers.

Yet another exciting venture is his regular hosting stint for ABS-CBN’s Sunday noontime show, ASAP ‘08, where he gets to strut his dancing prowess.

“First of all, one of my mentors is Gary V, and I’m always happy to share the stage with him. I’m also excited to meet the rest of the guys,” he adds.

So far, it’s been a fulfilling 16 years since Billy left for the States in the pursuit of bigger dreams – the bulk of which has been spent on songwriting, recording and producing.

“It’s been ridiculous, my working hours lately,” he says. “We’ve spent so much time on recording every single day. Sometimes I finish at 7 a.m. It got really hectic before I left, too, and they wanted to cram as much as they can since I was going to be away for three months. But hey, that’s what I’m here for.”

Asked to assess his growth as a songwriter, Billy expounds, “It definitely has grown so much since I started. I love writing songs. The songs I’ve been making recently are sad songs, but with an uptempo beat – so, you get the best of both worlds. You can get really down and depressed about something, but it’s not as sappy as you think, because it makes you dance.”

The devout composer finds his comfortable middle ground between the old Michael Jackson albums (Off the Wall, Thriller) and Justin Timberlake. He also loves the old school vibe of such Motown greats as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, James Brown, Quincy Jones and early Earth, Wind and Fire.

“I don’t think anybody can get to that level,” Billy confesses. “What they had back during those days was something special. Everything you have nowadays has always something to do with what their music had.

“So far, I’ve been blessed to be working with a bunch of really amazing people who have written hits for the biggest names,” adds the former child star. “I’m talking about Desmond Child, who’s written for Bon Jovi and American Idol.

There’s also The Clutch, Patrick ‘J. Que’ Smith who’s done stuff for Usher. Then, you have The Dream, who’s worked with Rihanna. These are just talented people, and it’s overwhelming and scary when you walk inside this room, because there’s so much pressure. I haven’t done half of the things they’ve done.”

Inspired yet undaunted, Billy knows that it’s only a matter of time before he forges his own sound fulfills his lifelong dream.

“You know what,” he says, “I think it’s not so much about the sound, but finding yourself is the hardest. And once you find yourself- who you are – then nothing can get in your way.”