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HARAYA SPOTLIGHT: Tenor JESNEL SUAREZ -- Wedding dreams that led to Haraya

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

It all started with a simple goal of mine - to be good enough to sing at my own wedding day. That's why I decided to push my shy persona aside and grab the opportunity to develop my voice and work towards being a better singer.

One day, a friend introduced me to Haraya Choir. I honestly did not have any idea as to what Haraya choir is about. I only knew it is a choir based in London -- which is convenient for me, and they were looking for tenors -- which I did not even know back then, that I was one.

Then came the time for me to do my audition. When I sat in the sitting room waiting for my audition to start, I listened to one of the singers Ma'am Karlene was teaching in the adjacent room, I gasped. What did I get my karaoke-loving, bathroom-singing, drunk-belting self into? To my surprise, Haraya was on a different level. When the time came, I bravely and nervously sang. Thank God Ma'am Karlene heard something at that time which got me a slot in Haraya. Big surprise: Tenor 1.

It was not an easy beginning for me. I am definitely clueless about the nature of a proper ensemble. I do not consider the one time I sang the Hallelujah Chorus in college as a proper experience. I always sing the melody line, singing songs by myself at my own leisure. But I tried my best to learn all the songs and harmonies I needed so I can be a proper 'Harayan'. I wanted to let them know that what I lack in experience, I will patch up with grit, commitment and hardwork. And so I did what I could.

Despite the sleepless nights, the wrong words and embarassing flats and sharps I made, the big things I needed to trade, I held on because I knew Haraya was the ship I need to get on board so I can sail - and I was right.

At the time of this writing, I am still 4 months fresh in the group. However, in the short time I have been singing with Haraya, I found that the training, the camaraderie (especially my Tenor section mates) and the friendships I've made within the walls of Ma'am Karlene's practice room, have made me an entirely better person, and different now from how I used to be musically. I have a bit of technique, discipline and a better heart towards singing and music - but still learning!

I couldn't be more thankful that I was given this opportunity to sing with all these talented people and I am glad I contributed to Haraya's "mesmerising", "astonishing", and "ridiculous" win at the MACC last March 1, 2020. I am blessed that I "getumbaba'ed" and "ayaye-o'ed" (Ma'am Karlene assigned me the tenor solos for Circle of Life) and thus helped realise Haraya's great achievement.

Now, I'm still not good enough to sing at my own wedding day. But all I want people to know is that, it's not too late to start and reach for a dream. And I'm glad I'm reaching for it now with Haraya. I'm looking forward to more exciting things we can share with the world, and hopefully greater feats in the future.

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