The recently concluded 35th Awit Awards – held last November 23rd at the New Frontier Theater – was truly a momentous occasion for both musicians and passionate music fans as numerous accolades and honors were given to the best of the best in Philippine Music.
One of the big winners at the event was Balcony Entertainment, steadily rising independent label and artist management stable. Spearheaded by founder RICO BLANCO, the label produced meaningful and well-deserved wins for artists ZILD, EBE DANCEL and MARIS RACAL.
Racal was first to bag the honors for Best Regional Recording with her track “Asa Naman,” which was distributed by Sony Music Philippines. The Tagum City-native proudly delivered her acceptance speech in Bisaya, citing her original aim to empower and put-the-spotlight on the beautiful language and culture of the Visayan region and its people: “I told Rico that I wanted to write a song in Bisaya, and we were able to create ‘Asa Naman;’ we should never be intimidated to write songs in our first language, because music should be celebrated in ANY language.” Racal rose to be one of the biggest forces in pop music this past year and had worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and solidified her musical career, which had always been her dream.
Following suit was songwriting powerhouse and singer Ebe Dancel, who took home the Awit Award honors for Best Ballad Recording. Released under the Widescope Entertainment label and produced by Blanco, it was Dancel’s swooning single “Manatili” that bested a host of impressive contemporaries. The track – which remarkably defied the challenges brought about by the recent lockdown with seemingly impossible schedule conflicts and logistical nightmares in recording (including having to record an entire string section in free tempo and the like…), is nothing short of a miraculous endeavor. Dancel acknowledged in his speech that despite being in the industry for more than two decades, it was still a great feeling to be able to bring home an award to his parents and proceeded to pay homage to his fellow musicians and songwriters and even his dog Alon, who had passed away this year. “We did it,” Dancel finished.
Finally, it was the musical wunderkind ZILD who won Best Performance By A Male Recording Artist for his song “Kyusi,” (distributed by Warner Music Philippines…) which arguably was a definitive turning point in the young songwriter’s career. The artist – who shared in his acceptance speech that it all began with a simple phone call with Blanco – had proved in the recent years that he was – without a doubt – becoming his own man, way beyond the shadow of his work with his former band, and in the most modest way, made it clear that he is still excited to move forward and explore more possibilities with this trajectory in his new realm.
Also present in the ceremonies was another Balcony Entertainment artist RAVEN. The self-styled bedroom artist and producer finally made it out of the bedroom for his first public appearance at an industry event and walked the red carpet alongside fellow Balcony artists and Blanco, who admittedly, was excited to attend this year’s festivities and excited with how things turned out for Balcony Entertainment.
“I cannot be prouder,” Blanco was stated saying. “These guys created music for their fans during the toughest of times: mentally, emotionally, and even financially and logistically; the least I could do [back] then was to give them the best support and effort from my very small Balcony Entertainment team – even when we were swimming in so much uncertainty, with the end to the pandemic nowhere in sight,” he revealed, and added, “On a couple of occasions, I would wonder if I was doing the right thing… but every time I heard their songs and saw their excitement, I knew that I just had to trust the music,” Blanco revealed.
Having won numerous Awit Awards throughout his career (including last year’s award for Best Pop Recording…), Blanco – with his Balcony Entertainment company – has constantly pushed the envelope in the local industry. The Awit Award honors prove that Blanco’s vision, indeed, works – carefully crafting non-exclusive win-win business partnerships with the sharpest industry players and faithfully adhering to an “artist-first” ethos – while being anchored on lessons learned and wisdom gained by Blanco himself.
“I started Balcony Entertainment years ago, hoping that I can give to other artists the kind of management and label I never had – and it is humbling to learn that this is all easier said than done,” Blanco stated, and finished, “but it is – and will always be -what I strive-for.”
The victories of Balcony Entertainment at the recent Awit Awards is definitely a sign of even more exciting things to come for both artists and the industry as a whole, and ultimately fans and supporters of proudly homegrown music.