Balladeer Martin Nievera didn’t have much luck, or should I say, no luck at all when he first entered the marriage contest. But despite the painful experience, that did not prevent him from releasing the most romantic sounds that have now become part of the playlists of lovers caught up in the joy of being in love.
I guess it all started almost 40 years ago when Martin was given the song Be My Lady to record. Composed by rising songwriter Vehnee Saturno, it was one of the finalists of the Metromanila Popular Music Festival in 1983. He was not the performer however, Vehnee hired a new vocalist named Pedrito Montaire .
The son of legendary balladist Bert Nievera, Martin had just moved to Manila from Hawaii to embark on his musical career and was the hot newcomer of the moment. He also made his debut in this same competition as an interpreter of Pain, written by Alvina Sy. The song won the amateur division grand prize. Not bad for the kid following in his father’s footsteps.
Be My Lady did not win any prizes in the competition. However, the ballad caught the attention of big Vicor boss Vic del Rosario with whom Martin was under contract. He asked Vehnee to allow the young singer to record the song for his debut album titled Take One. What happened next is now part of Filipino pop music history. Martin led Be My Lady to the pinnacle of stardom and has remained there ever since.
Martin often mentions that he will never tire of singing the song. It’s not just because of Pinoy’s legendary utang na loob quality. It is also a fact that to this day, Be My Lady remains the most requested number at each of her concerts. A silence accompanied by goosebumps occurs whenever the familiar intro arrives and the song usually ends with the whole audience singing along.
Not only that, Martin has also lost count of how many men in love have asked him to sing the song to their loves as the background music for the all-important marriage proposal. Why not? These three words “Be My Lady” say it all. “Be my wife, come to me and take my hand and be my wife…” and the women, endlessly flattered by the invitation, find it hard to resist and most of the time say yes.
That must be why the naturally romantic Martin has stayed on the love-song trajectory ever since. He followed Be My Lady with more songs that promise eternal love. No, not the tearful big sellers Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin or Kahit Isang Saglit. But others, also immensely popular tunes that have become favorite sounds at engagements and weddings.
Martin even wrote the lyrics for some of them like You Are My Song, with music by Louie Ocampo. There’s also Forever originally by Kenny Loggins, but which has since become one of Martin’s signature songs; Every Day with You, which he co-wrote with Franklin Kleiner and Benedict Say; Ikaw, his cover of the George Canseco and Louie Ocampo song originally recorded by Sharon Cuneta; The Promise (I’ll Never Say Goodbye) also a big hit for Barbra Streisand; Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin, which was first recorded by Basil Valdes; and others.
Martin’s latest single is Smile Again, which he co-wrote with Homer Flores. It’s a light and uplifting melody inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s classic, Smile. It’s about finding hope to find a smile despite adversity. It’s not Martin’s usual love song, but at this point in his life he’s probably contemplating things that go beyond the promise of a forever-awaited romantic love.