Jake Zyrus (known as Charice Pempengco prior to his gender transition) was born in Cabuyao, Philippines. When he was three years old, he witnessed his abusive father point a gun at his mom during an episode of domestic violence. Along with his mother and younger brother Carl, they left their father in search of a better life. At the age of seven, with money hard to come by and with little food to put on the table, Zyrus urged his mother to teach him how to sing and let him join singing contests to help support their family. He went around the provinces of Laguna and Batangas, joining amateur singing contests in town fiestas and later, on little-known shows on television. He started winning most of the contests he joined, often borrowing money from friends and neighbors for the bus fare then paying them back after he had won. He estimates he joined 80-100 singing contests all in all. In May 2008, Zyrus was invited to guest on Oprah, for a themed show called World's Smartest Kids. She sang I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston and bought the audience to their feet, giving him another standing ovation. No one was more impressed than Oprah Winfrey herself though, incredulously asking him, "Girl, that was fantastic! Who are you?!" The next day, Charice and his mother were already on a plane waiting to take off for the Philippines when Oprah called to stop the plane and bring them back to her office. Oprah had been so impressed with the child and couldn't get him off her mind. He listened to Zyrus' story and told him, "Don't lose hope. I promise you something big will happen." She then called legendary music producer David Foster who took Zyrus on under his wing. Zyrus, as David Foster's protégé, suddenly found himself singing duets with Andrea Bocelli in Italy and with his idol Celine Dion in Madison Square Garden. He also shared the stage with other big names such as Michael Buble and Josh Groban. He performed at three of President Barack Obama's pre-inauguration galas and made a cameo appearance as himself in 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. He also went on to appear on the Oprah show three more times after his initial appearance, the most recent one being last May 11, 2010, a day after his 18th birthday, to debut his international album CHARICE. His single Pyramid with singer Iyaz topped the Billboard Dance chart at #1. His album sales during its first week landed him in the #8 spot on the US Billboard Hot 200 chart, making him the first ever Asian artist in history to enter the Billboard top 10. In June 2017, Zyrus came out as a trans-man and announced that he underwent gender transition. He dropped his old name "Charice Pempengco" and adopted his current name.
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