The family was in awe of her extraordinary talent. Despite life’s hardships, Chelsea’s aunt Bing taught her to seek joy and personal expression through music and enrolled her in voice lessons. By age 5, Chelsea was performing in front of large crowds and even became a voice in the Filipino political resistance. Her first show was a huge political fundraiser aimed at feeding the hungry, where Chelsea took the stage before a crowd of 5,000 people.
A year later, Chelsea’s parents moved the family to the U.S. in search of a better life…one that offered their kids the freedom to follow their dreams. Chelsea wasted no time going after hers. She wowed judges when she auditioned for a performing arts magnet school and quickly buckled down to learn everything there was to know about American pop music.
But Chelsea found herself caught in the middle of a cultural divide. Most of the female pop acts she saw on MTV were blonde and unabashedly sexual – an image that didn’t square with her idea of a nice, reserved, Filipino girl. With so few Asian faces in the music industry, and her own modesty to contend with, she wondered if she could make it. Chelsea resolved to pave her own path, taking solace in a quote by Machiavelli: “The hard route to the top is often the best.”
Chelsea’s dad had her back, boosting her confidence and encouraging her to embrace the more expressive, uninhibited values of American culture. When she was a teenager at L.A. County High School for Arts, he encouraged her to attend a big audition for musician/producer Jim James, who was looking to put together an all-Asian, girl group. Hundreds of girls from all over L.A. tried out. Chelsea was one of four that landed the gig.
For the next two years, the group known as SX4 pounded the pavement, making music and refining their sound, eventually landing a record deal with major label BMG under the management of George Brown, a founding member of Kool and the Gang. The group got busy, recording an album, singing on Kool and the Gang’s “Gangland” album and performing around the country – including at the Apollo, where the group had the usual tough crowd eating out of their hands.
The band split up but Chelsea bounced back. She got wind of a new MTV show called Top Pop Group – a show that featured various up-and-coming pop groups competing for the top spot. Chelsea quickly formed a band with two other young, female singers and after three days of round-the-clock rehearsals, the group became one of nine bands to earn a spotlight on the show.
This landed Chelsea major airtime on MTV and suddenly the offers started rolling in. The first one came from close to home…she was asked to sing the national anthem live on HBO for a boxing match starring Filipino-American boxer Nonito Donaire. Regular stints for top ranked boxing matches followed – like those for Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. This gave Chelsea a platform to show off her powerful singing chops and allowed her to
scrape together enough money to write and record her first solo album, which she released on her own label, Fanatic Productions.
The songs kept coming and Chelsea quickly began work on her second solo album. Working with multiple producers, Chelsea honed her craft and developed a distinctive sound, writing and recording urban/pop-inspired music that was personal to her. “Songwriting is my therapy,” she said. “It’s my way of relieving stress and coping with challenges.”
It wasn’t long before her music was getting airplay on multiple platforms like iTunes, Amazon, MTV, as well as internet radio play across North America and Europe. Producers at Fox took notice and cast her in the reality show “Paradise Hotel 2.”
Chelsea had succeeded in launching a solo career on her own and was on a roll. But she wanted to make a bigger impact and felt that something was holding her back. She had all the right stuff – talent, beauty, brains – but she had come to recognize that her upbringing made her deeply protective of her sexuality and resistant to showing off her body. Without the freedom to fully express that side of her, Chelsea harbored doubts about her ability to conform to the mainstream American music world.
Enter George Brown, the legendary producer and founding member of Kool and the Gang, who had given her a shot a few years earlier with her band SX4. Brown had started his Astana Music Productions label and wanted to develop top talent. So, he called Chelsea and signed her to a record deal in the spring of 2017.
The duo clicked. Chelsea credits George with “coaxing her out of the closet” and giving her the freedom and confidence to let go and be her authentic self. No longer afraid to embrace her own sensuality, Chelsea’s new single “King Size” is a shout out to her newfound freedom of expression – both musically and sexually.
Having bridged the gap between the distinct culture that shaped her and the sexy, self- expression she always longed to release, Chelsea has finally come into her own. This knock- down-gorgeous girl with the traffic-stopping voice is charting new territory and ready to take the music world by storm. No holds barred.