By Jacqueline Monahan
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Photos by Stephen Thorburn

Melissa Manchester and Imelda Papin at The Orleans Showroom

The Orleans Showroom’s red velvet curtain rose on two legendary recording artists during a limited engagement (July 31-August 2), showcasing romance, rock, and award-winning talent. Imelda Papin (pronounced “poppin”) and Melissa Manchester filled the sold-out house with song, alternating between ballad and hard-driving beat.

Acclaimed vocalist Imelda Papin, host of the Voice of the Heart Radio Show on KLAV 1230 AM (Los Angeles) got the party started by appearing in a clingy black top and denim jeans accented by mirrored disks which swayed and twinkled as she moved. Opening with Kiki Dee’s “I Got the Music in Me,” Papin was accompanied by two backup singers and six dancers, along with a band made up of keyboards, guitar and drums.

Imelda Papin

Known as the Sentimental Songstress in her native Philippines, the energetic Papin belted out a strong version of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best,” proving that she is indeed capable of fast-paced numbers as well as contemplative pieces such as The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,”

Papin sang a ballad in Tagalog which many Filipino members of the audience recognized; they even joined in the chorus at her urging. She is soft-spoken with her words, but powerful with her voice. The song “River Deep, Mountain High” was a fun-filled party on stage, incorporating her dancers, singers and her own vocal instrument “For All I Am” and “Offering of Love” from her new CD, Voice of the Heart, brought tears to her eyes as she sang them. Papin’s daughter, Maria France, joined her mother on stage for a dance duo with a male partner.

The last song of Papin’s set was Melissa Manchester’s first, and when the strains of “Looking Through the eyes of Love,” began, audience members thought that it was Papin’s tribute to the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. That is, until Manchester appeared onstage for a solo verse that filled the showroom with an enthusiastic ovation. Manchester and Papin finished the touching ballad duet-style.

With her trademark hairstyle full of thick, cascading curls,  Manchester sparkled in a shiny, layered, gunmetal-hued skirt set and black boots. She began with a moving version of “I Know You by Your Heart” followed by “You Should Hear How She Talks about You,” in a jazzy tempo and arrangement that differed immensely from the radio/album version familiar to the audience. Manchester pulled it off with an infectious smile and rhythmic movements that made her a pleasure to behold.

Melissa Manchester

Then came the signature “Midnight Blue,” which put Manchester’s expressive face and calm, optimistic demeanor to good use. She accompanied herself on the piano for several songs, including “Angels Dancing,” about an eccentric woman named Pearl who imparts life lessons to those around her. Manchester connects with the instrument as if it is an extension of herself.

“Whenever I Call You Friend,” which she co-wrote with Kenny Loggins, actually caused her to kick up her heels onstage. This was followed by Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”

Manchester ended her stint onstage as she had begun it, with a Papin duet on her iconic song “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Papin took the stage in a shimmery golden gown and the two talented singers guided the end of the show into a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes while flower bouquets were presented to both.


Viva Concerts & Events, Inc. brings the Papin/Manchester concert to the Philippines on September 18 and 20. It will be Manchester’s first time performing in that country.

Five Facts About Imelda Papin:

- grew up in a remote fishing village

- hosts the TV show Imelda Papin in America, aired every second Saturday of the month from 4 to 4:30 p.m. on LA 18

- recently held a fundraising concert with boxing champ Manny Pacquiao for the purchase of dialysis machines for the free treatment of indigent patients in the Philippines

- served two terms as the first female vice governor for the province of Camarines Sur

- performed a duet with Ron Dante of The Archies, the original singer of the worldwide No. 1 hit "Sugar, Sugar."

Five Facts About Melissa Manchester

- won the Best Female Vocalist Grammy in 1982

- became the first artist in the history of the Academy Awards to have two nominated movie themes in a given year - "Looking Through The Eyes of Love" and "The Promise."

- Had her songs recorded by Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Dusty Springfield and Peabo Bryson

- wrote the score for Lady & The Tramp II

- was a back-up singer for Bette Midler


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