At 18 years old, Gabrielle “Gabri” Victoria Panlilio said she has always wanted to become a classical singer. "I started singing at the age of 10 and when I turned 12, I started formal training after watching Phantom of the Opera. That’s what inspired me to sing classical. My plan is actually to show people that classical singing can also be as pretty as singing in different styles. So I’m going to sing contemporary music but still have that classical style just to show them that it’s also as bright and as pretty as what’s popular,” she shared with Push.com.ph.
As the Philippines’ official representative for this year’s ChildAid Asia music festival set for July 16 to 17 at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center in Malaysia, Gabri will be part of an annual music festival which is also a fund-raising event aimed at providing financial assistance for talented but indigent musical prodigies from all over the Asian region. She will be performing the Jennifer Lopez song “Feel the light” as well as other group songs. Gabri said she is lucky not to camera shy anymore. "As long as I get to perform, I’ll be happy,” she said.
Having just finished high school this year, Gabri admitted she is equally inspired by local and foreign artists. Her dream duet is with Gary Valenciano. “I think he’s really talented. He can do anything. He can sing, dance and his showmanship is fantastic,” she admitted. When it comes to pop, she loves Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. She also admires Bituin Escalante, Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez, and Celine Dion. “Bituin Escalante is my favorite. She’s very powerful and the way she sings it’s so effortless. I like the way she sings. I’ve actually worked with her in Repertory Philippines. I watch her plays and I watch her concerts. Every time I see her I tell her she’s my idol. Lea Salonga is also one of the people I look up to. She has great diction and her voice is super crystal clear. Their styles are so different. They’re good in their own way. You can’t compare them,” she added.
Gabri took lessons under mezzo-soprano Clarissa Ocampo. She also had one-on- one sessions with Michael Lavine, a Broadway voice coach who trained Idina Menzel, among others. She had her first solo classical recital when she turned 15. Despite her fascination with classical, operatic, and Broadway music, Gabri said she is an avid fan of old-school rock. She is a self-confessed Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Guns and Roses, Heart, the Beatles, and America fan. "I practice singing at least two to three times a week. It’s not good to over-sing. That’s good enough. I just sing and learn songs and I look up on the internet what the song is about so everything comes out warm and it comes out naturally,” she shared.