Jaya (singer)

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Jaya (Singer).jpg
María Luisa Ramsey Kagahastian

(1970-03-21) March 21, 1970 (age 52)
Manila, Philippines
  • Singer
  • rapper
  • record producer
  • actress
  • dancer
  • television host
Years active1989–present
  • Andrew Buffington
    (m. 1998; div. 2001)
  • Gary Gotidoc
    (m. 2006)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar

María Luisa Ramsey-Gotidoc (born March 21, 1970), known professionally by the mononym Jaya (/ˈə/), is a Filipina soul singer, rapper, record producer, actress, dancer and presenter of mixed Jamaican and Visayan descent. She was a talent of GMA Network but later transferred to ABS-CBN, where she serves as one of the head jury of the Tawag ng Tanghalan segment of the Philippine noontime variety show It's Showtime and performer on ASAP. Jaya is the first Filipino recording artist to chart in the United States, as her debut single "If You Leave Me Now" peaked at 44 at the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[1]

Jaya also ventured into musical theatre, playing the role of Surpanakha in the 1999 Filipino musical Rama at Sita staged at the University Theatre.[2]

Early life[edit]

María Luisa Ramsey was born on March 21, 1970 in Manila.[3] Her mother was Elizabeth Ramsey, a Filipina comedian and singer of Jamaican and Spanish-Filipino descent.[4] Ramsey's father is Reynaldo Kagahastian, a Filipino. Her parents separated when she was young, and her father migrated to the United States. He now resides in Alberta, Canada.

She entered show business at the age of ten as a backup dancer for her mother, and at the age of 12 was a backup singer and front act for some minor and major shows. She began performing solo in 1982, us into the name Louise Ramsey.

Ramsey did not finish high school in the Philippines because of her busy lifestyle as a child performer. She nonetheless received high marks and was once elected class president.

Life in the United States[edit]

Her mother Elizabeth decided to leave for the United States in June 1985, and brought Louise with her. There, she continued her solo singing stints, performing with other Overseas Filipino artists like Tillie Moreno, Eddie Mercado, Lerma dela Cruz, and the duo Reycards.

Life in America was difficult for Ramsey and her mother as they moved around different cities in California. She attended John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, which at the time already had a large Filipino-American student population. She ran away from home in 1988 after finishing high school, moving to New York with a friend and landing a job as a backup vocalist for Stevie B's group of musicians.[5]


US debuts[edit]

Ramsey was re-christened "Jaya" in 1989 by her American producer after signing a record deal in the United States. After one year, Jaya moved to Florida, where she was offered to be a ghost-singer for an album but after listening to her voice, the management decided to do the album with Jaya.

Philippine debuts[edit]

1995 was a turning point in Jaya's musical career. Pilita Corrales, dubbed "Asia's Queen of Songs", noticed her voice after Jaya did an opening act for Corrales, Carmen Soriano, the late Bert "Tawa" Marcelo, and Elizabeth in the United States. Corrales then asked Jaya if she would like to return to Manila and record an album, to which she agreed. Jaya returned to the Philippines and signed a record deal with Viva Records in March 1995 and completed her first local album. Five songs were recorded in the US while the rest were done in the Philippines.

Jaya is noted for being the Philippine music industry's female record holder of a seven-times platinum album.[6] She was a big hit when Pinoys first heard her belt out soul ditties in 1996. Her winning the 1996 Metropop Song Festival via Danny Tan's "Sometimes You Just Know" made her the biggest star on the rise at the close of the last century. Her first album under Viva Records hit an all-time high of 9 times platinum.[7]

In 1997, she released her third album In the Raw, (second in the Philippines) the follow-up to her massive-selling 1996 Philippine debut album, Jaya, which sold nine times platinum, (360,000 units; platinum is 40,000 units sold).[8]

In this year also, 1997, she started performing in SOP, a Sunday variety noontime show in GMA Network.

She also won as Best Interpreter at the Asia Song Festival held in Hong Kong in February 1997 for her rendition of the song "You Lift Me Up", composed by Danny Tan with lyrics by Dodjie Simon. This composition also received the grand prize, the Best Song award.

She adorns Magpakailan pa Man (Up to the End), with soulful, Toni Braxton-styled flourishes, and renders the upbeat, "Together" with panache and verve. Her assured handling of the delicately nuanced, "Sana'y Maulit Muli" (May it Recur Again), is a tour de force. The album sold quintuple-platinum (200,000 units sold).[9]

She released a Christmas album, entitled Kung Kailan Pasko which contained traditional carols alongside original compositions, including a jazz version of The Christmas Song.[10]

In 1999, PolyMax Records, a label of then-PolyGram Records Philippines (now an affiliate of Universal Records) released Jaya's A Love Album, first released in 1992 in Japan under the same title. The album consists of songs taken from an earlier Jaya album, also called A Love Album, released in the United States in 1989, as well as songs recorded specifically for the 1992 Japanese release. In 1992, while touring Japan as a backup singer and keyboardist for American R&B artist Stevie B., Jaya was approached by the Japanese label Toshiba/EMI to make an album for Japanese release. A Love Album was released in Japan in conjunction with Jaya's American label, LMR Records, which still owns master rights, and from whom PolyMax obtained permission to release the album in the Philippines (according to Kazu Watanabe, managing director of PolyMax Records). A Love Album is exquisitely produced, and Jaya acquits herself well on the album's upbeat R&B/dance-styled tunes and soulful ballads.[11]

In 1999, Jaya released, her fifth album released in her native country since 1996, entitled Honesty originally done by Billy Joel, was also her career single.

Honesty differs greatly from Jaya's two previous major albums released in the Philippines, 1996's Jaya and 1997's In the Raw. Though, as before, Honesty contains mostly passionate, easy-listening love songs, this time out her approach is more intimate. She doesn't add many soulful flourishes as before, nor does she allow herself to soar passionately to the heavens, which she often did on her previous albums.

Another major difference is the inclusion of three modern, rhythm and blues styled songs, including, "We Thang," "Tear to Fall" and "In My Dreams." These songs are far more contemporary and have much more international appeal than the easy-listening love songs which dominate Jaya's music.[12]

After five years in the recording scene, she released her first greatest hits album, entitled Five featuring a duet of Habang May Buhay (While There's Life) with Regine Velasquez and Kung Wala Na (If It Is Gone) from the Abandonada soundtrack.

In 1999, Jaya faced a big challenge when she did her first musical, the Ramayana-based Rama at Sita that starred Lani Misalucha. Her performance as the demon king Ravana's sister, Soorphanaka, was memorable for her skillful treatment of risque songs and sultry dancing.[13]

Also in 1999, Jaya was offered to be a main host in a GMA Network variety show called SOP.

2000: Unleashed and concert scene[edit]

In 2001, Jaya released her sixth Unleashed album. Jaya sings in a relaxed, confident manner, and performs middle-of-the-road songs that mostly have depth and quality. Jaya mostly foregoes the soulful embellishments that were plentiful in her first two albums, 1996's Jaya and 1997's In the Raw, although every so often she adds a few unwritten notes in a passionate, soulful manner. She approached her last album, 1999's Honesty, in the refined manner that she furthers on Unleashed. Jaya covers Roy Orbison's "Love Hurts" and John Lennon's "Love" in an understated, yet enjoyable manner. Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly" features an imaginative, bass-heavy arrangement.[14]

In 2001, she released her first live album, entitled, Jaya Live at the Araneta. The album is dominated by performances of American hits. For example, the album starts with a performance of Aretha Franklin's 1960s hit "Respect", and also includes Labelle's "Lady Marmalade", Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Roy Orbison's "Love Hurts." She performs several of these ballads here, including her first hit in the Philippines, "Dahil Tanging Ikaw" (Because It's Only You). Several guest artists also have spots, including Regine Velasquez, who performs Abba's "Dancing Queen"; boy band Jeremiah, who accompanies Jaya on remakes of songs by American boy bands, including Westlife's "Swear It Again"; and male singers Wency Cornejo, KC Montero, and Rivermaya's vocalist and songwriter, Rico Blanco.[15]

After 4 years of hiatus in the music scene, Jaya returned with her seventh studio album entitled, Fall in Love Again. Friends, old and new helped Jaya put the album together. One of these is Ogie Alcasid, who composed and produced "Ako'y Sa'yo" later revived by Regine Velasquez, "Maging Akin Ka Lamang" and their duet of "Bakit Di Mo Sabihin". Another one is Vehnee Saturno, who wrote and produced most of Jaya's early hits. His contributions are "Pagkukunwari" and "Di Na Ba Kita Mapipigilan", which is the album's first single release.[16]

2007: New label[edit]

In 2007, she released her eighth album Cool Change under her new label, GMA Records, featuring covers of international hit songs including Donna Summer's "On the Radio" and the Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire". All of the songs were presented with new arrangements in various musical genres. The first single was "Is It Over?" originally sung by Ronnie Milsap which received Platinum award in 2009.[17]

After her Platinum Record solo album, "Cool Change, " Ramsey released her ninth studio album entitled, Real.Love.Stories. It contains 14 love songs carefully picked and beautifully revived by the Philippine's Queen of Soul, such as "Breathe Again" originally sung by Toni Braxton; "Old Friend" by Phyllis Hyman and "Save the Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams.

The concept album will be released initially on a limited edition micro secure digital format and after two weeks, it will be available on physical CDs and digital downloading.[18]

Jaya was also part of Kaya Natin Ito single cd. The project was supported by Gawad Kalinga to help the tropical storm Ondoy and Pepeng victims that killed more than half a million people all over the country.[19]

2010: New beginnings[edit]

On March 1, 2010, Jaya starred in her first soap opera as a supporting character in Diva, a new primetime offering of GMA Network for their 60th Anniversary, alongside Regine Velasquez, Mark Anthony Fernandez and Glaiza de Castro.[20]

Her show BandaOke aired from October 25, 2009 to March 21, 2010, and was replaced by the reality sitcom Pepito Manaloto.

She was also a main presenter of the GMA-7 variety show, Party Pilipinas.[21]

Jaya was reluctant to act before but she enjoyed playing the role of Barang, Regine Velasquez' friend in Diva. She played the nosy landlady Helen de Herenes in Kaya ng Powers, a sitcom that starred Joey Marquez and Rufa Mae Quinto as a couple from outer space.[22]

Jaya won Best Female Vocal Performance for the song "Hiding Inside Myself" at 23rd Awit Awards on September 30, 2010, defeating some of the younger local singers of today.[23]

2011–2016: All Souled Out and Sunday All Stars judge[edit]

Jaya released an album under Universal Records entitled All Souled Out, a CD album containing 12 tracks of all revival songs. It was her third cover album, containing classic R&B and jazz songs that she grew up listening to. The album received a critical response, after experimenting with a variety of sounds in her previous outings, "Jaya comes to terms with what she is really all about as a singer in "All Souled Out." She triumphs in making the material sound genuine, largely because it is perfect for her. And her voice is a thing of wonder. There is warmth, power, and vulnerability in her renditions, making listening to the entire album a breeze—perfect for long drives or for those lazy weekends."

She was one of the "Big Four" judges of GMA Network's new musical variety show Sunday All Stars which began airing on June 30, 2013. She also starred in Mga Basang Sisiw as Sally[24]

2016–present: Return to ABS-CBN[edit]

Currently, Jaya became a Kapamilya after being welcomed on ABS-CBN's and after 16 years with GMA Network, noontime-variety show It's Showtime last July 16, 2016, and she is now a part of the jury on Tawag ng Tanghalan.[25][26][27] In November 2016, Jaya was one of the guests of the Filipino girl group DIVAS' first concert titled DIVAS Live in Manila along with K Brosas and Regine Velasquez.

Personal life[edit]

In 1998, Jaya married musician Andrew Buffington, whom she met in 1995, and filed for divorce after three years.[28] Jaya married her second husband, Gary Gotidoc, in May 2006, and at the age of 36 gave birth to her daughter Sabriya.[29] On June 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm, she gave birth to her son Dylan at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City and he weighed 8.2 pounds.[30]


Jaya is one of the Philippine's Finest Contraltos, widely known for her dark and big voice, low registered as low as A2. Contraltos can extend their notes to the mezzo-soprano or to the lower range. She can belt in the Ab5 note in her rendition of "Through the Fire" even as high as A5 in her version of "High Energy".[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

  • 1989: Jaya (U.S. release)
  • 1996: Jaya
  • 1997: In the Raw
  • 1998: Kung Kailan Pasko
  • 1999: A Love Album (Japanese release)
  • 1999: Honesty
  • 2001: Unleashed
  • 2005: Fall in Love Again
  • 2007: Cool Change
  • 2009: Real.Love.Stories.
  • 2011: All Souled Out
  • 2019: Queen of Soul

Live album[edit]

  • 2001: Live at the Araneta

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 2000: Five
  • 2006: Silver Series
  • 2009: 18 Greatest Hits


  • S6parados (performer: "Isang Araw") (August 3, 2014)[31]
  • Pangako... Ikaw lang (performer: "Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang") (July 4, 2001)
  • Abandonada (performer: "Kung Wala Na") (November 29, 2000)
  • Dito sa puso ko (performer: "Dito Sa Puso Ko") (1999)
  • Dahil Ba Sa Kanya (performer: "Dahil Ba Sa Kanya") (May 13, 1998)
  • Wala na bang pag-ibig (performer: "Wala na bang pag-ibig") (October 22, 1997)
  • Laging Naro'n Ka (performer: "Laging Naro'n Ka") (April 9, 1997)
  • Hanggang Ngayo'y Mahal (performer: "Hanggang Ngayo'y Mahal") (1997)
  • Dahil Tanging Ikaw (performer: "Dahil Tanging Ikaw") (1997)



Title Year Network Role
Bella Bandida 2020
Agatha Suares (Bella's Auntie)
Maalaala Mo Kaya: Salamin 2019 ABS-CBN Cata
Magandang Buhay 2016—2018 Occasional Guest / Guest Performer
Gandang Gabi Vice Special Guest
ASAP 1995—2000
Herself / Performer
It's Showtime 2016–2021 Hurado at Tawag ng Tanghalan segment / Occasional Performer
Poor Señorita 2016 GMA Network Kapitana Edna Logatoc
Eat Bulaga! 1997—1999
Performer in segment Just Duet
Marimar 2015—2016 Corazon
Yagit 2014—2015 Madam / Manghuhula
Sunday All Stars 2013—2015 Main host
Mga Basang Sisiw 2013 Sally
Nay-1-1 2012 Host / Herself
Biritera Susie
Dwarfina Various
Bantatay 2010–2011 Jaya the Labrador (voice)
Kaya ng Powers 2010 Helen de Herenes
Party Pilipinas 2010—2013 Main Host
Diva[32] 2010 Barbara / Barang
BandaOke[33] 2009—2010 Host
One Proud Mama[34] 2008—2009
(is now on GMA News TV, and GTV)
Pinoy Pop Superstar 2004—2007 GMA Network Judge
All-Star K! (formerly K!, The P1,000,000 Videoke Challenge) 2002—2009 Main Host
SOP 2000—2010


  • Pangako Ikaw Lang 2001 Viva Films
  • Enteng Kabisote & The Abangers 2016 MZet Films

Theatre credits[edit]

  • Rama at Sita


Year Award Giving Body Category Nominated Work Results Ref
1996 Metropop Song Festival Grand Prize "Sometimes You Just Know" Won
1997 Awit Awards Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist "Dahil Tanging Ikaw" Won
Best Pop Recording Won
1998 Asia's Song Festival Grand Prize "You Lift Me Up" Won
Awit Awards Best Pop Recording Won
Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist "You Lift Me Up" Won
2000 Awit Awards Best Pop Recording "Dito Sa Puso Ko" Won [35]
Best Performance by a Duet "Ikaw Lamang" with Janno Gibbs Won[35]
2001 Awit Awards Best Performance by a Duet "Habang May Buhay" with Regine Velasquez-Alcasid Won
2008 MYX Music Awards Favorite Female Artist N/A Nominated [36]
Favorite Remake "Is It Over" Nominated[36]
Favorite Mellow Video "Is It Over" Nominated[36]
2012 Awit Awards Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist "Hiding Inside Myself" Won
2014 Eastwood City Walk Of Fame Celebrity Inductee N/A Won
2019 PMPC Star Awards for Music Album of the Year "Queen of Soul" Won [37]
R&B Album of the Year Won
Female Recording Artist of the Year "Hanggang Dito Na Lang" Nominated [38]
R&B Artist of the Year Nominated


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  2. ^ The Philippine Star. "Rama at Sita". PhilStar Global. PhilStar Media Group. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  3. ^ ""Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984," database with images, FamilySearch". Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  4. ^ (PHNO), Philippine Headline News Online. "ELIZABETH RAMSEY: A THOUSAND LAUGHS IN A LIFETIME". newsflash.org. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "– filipinomusica.com". Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  6. ^ List of best-selling albums in the Philippines
  7. ^ "Mega Producer – Jaya Cool Change". multiply.com. Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "MP3.com". Retrieved April 12, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ In the Raw by Jaya – Download In the Raw on iTunes
  10. ^ Kung Kailan Pasko by Jaya – Download Kung Kailan Pasko on iTunes
  11. ^ "MP3.com". Archived from the original on September 11, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Honesty by Jaya – Download Honesty on iTunes
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  14. ^ "MP3.com". Retrieved April 12, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Answers – The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". answers.com. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
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  17. ^ "NINA Soul SIREigNs Thread 7.5 and Everywhere You Are There We'll Be..." pinoyexchange.com. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  18. ^ GMA Records
  19. ^ Kaya Natin Ito!
  20. ^ GMA-7’s first Kantaserye airs tomorrow | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online
  21. ^ "iGMA: Jaya talks about SOP and Party Pilipinas". gmanews.tv. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  22. ^ "GMA-7's KAYA NG POWERS". pinoyexchange.com. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  23. ^ The 23rd Philippine Awit Awards Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
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  25. ^ ABS-CBN Entertainment (July 16, 2016). "It's Showtime: Welcome to It's Showtime, Jaya!". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved April 12, 2017 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ Anarcon, James Patrick. "Is Jaya now a Kapamilya?". pep.ph. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  27. ^ News, ABS-CBN. "New Kapamilya Jaya joins 'Tawag' judges". abs-cbn.com. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
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  30. ^ Jaya Gave Birth to a Healthy Baby Boy | Philippine News on Grabeh.com Archived July 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Jaya". imdb.com. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  32. ^ GMA Telebabad powerhouse in 2010 Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "{show} - TV – GMA Entertainment – Online Home of Kapuso Shows and Stars". igma.tv. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  34. ^ "Elizabeth Ramsey & Jaya "Rock & Soul Tour 2008" - Feb. 8 - Los Angeles – Feb. 10 – San Francisco". carouselpinoy.com. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  35. ^ a b "13th Awit Awards Results". Archived from the original on March 2, 2006. Retrieved May 8, 2006.
  36. ^ a b c Jocelyn Dimaculangan (February 18, 2008). "Third MYX Music Awards to be held on March 26". PEP.ph. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  37. ^ "And the winners of the 11th Star Awards for Music 2020 are..." pep.ph. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  38. ^ "FULL LIST: Nominees for 2019 Star Awards for Music". news.abs-cbn.com. Retrieved October 30, 2019.

External links[edit]