MANILA, Philippines – She started singing at the age of 14. Two years later, she was already singing professionally in bars and lounges. Thanks to her strong musical pedigree. Daughter of Jazz Queen Annie Brazil and sister of Jazz Prince Richard Merk, Rachel Anne Wolfe Spitaletta had her glorious days in local entertainment.
After she won the Miss Young Pilipinas title in the 1984 Bb. Pilipinas pageant (when she was only 16), she had her stints in movies, television and recording, which allowed her to spread her wings.
On the big screen, Rachel had the chance to work with big-name stars led by the late Action King Fernando Poe Jr. (One Day, Isang Araw), the late Comedy King Dolphy and Nora Aunor (Bugoy Goes To Congress), Vilma Santos (Ibulong Mo sa Diyos), Richard Gomez (Kid, Huwag Kang Susuko), Bong Revilla Jr. (Dongalo Massacre and Bodyguard) and Snooky Serna (Rosa Mistica).
On television, she co-hosted shows like Big Ike’s Happening (hosted by the late Ike Lozada), German Moreno’s GMA Supershow (then a Sunday noontime toprater) and the daily Student Canteen. When she returned to the country in 2010, Rachel did a TV appearance in the primetime series, Lovers in Paris, which starred Piolo Pascual and KC Concepcion.
In recording, Rachel was able to release solo albums and record her own compositions even after she settled in New Jersey, tied the knot (with Italian-American John Spitaletta) and had her own children. She has four boys — Max, Trevor, Luke and Jake.
In 2007, Rachel released Cool (under Sony-BMG), which carries Part of Everything, a song she wrote for her mom and That’s Love, which she penned for her husband. That was followed by the all-OPM album, Kay Layo Mo in 2010, which she recorded with the help of New York-based composer Archie Dairocas.
Based in New Jersey for 25 years now, Rachel’s typical day would be caring and attending to the needs of her kids, like picking them up from school, driving them to sports practices, helping them with their school work and cooking for them.
Fortunately, she found something to do in the field of music, so she created a program for children called Little Singers. She is actively voice coaching and teaching stage performances to kids, as young as three years old. She has been successful in doing this and has introduced her program to other schools for their mini-enrichment classes.
She also finds time to accommodate invitations to perform in Filipino events, which she enjoys tremendously. Her love for music allowed her to put up a recording studio for her children and even her Little Singers to enjoy.
Being a lounge singer at a very young age, Rachel can render songs by Donna Summer and Diana Ross. Rachel can also croon tunes from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Now 45, Rachel reinvents herself by singing songs she grew up listening to through her mom’s many engagements.
Going back to basics, she is now focusing on songs that started her showbiz career — classic standard songs, bossa nova tunes, then re-arranging slow songs into swing tempos as well as interpreting songs that have not been heard live in a long while. She is also ready to sing pieces by Astrud Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald and other classic singers.
Now on a winter break from the East Coast, Rachel is in town again and will guest in Valentine Serenades, topbilled by Robert Seña and Bo Cerrudo on Feb. 13 at the Grand Ballroom of Solaire Resort and Casino. The show will also headline Richard Merk, with Elhmir Saison as musical director for him and Rachel.
Also featured are Aicelle Santos, Rafa Siguion-Reyna and the ensemble from the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert is written by Bibeth Orteza, with over-all musical direction by Rodel Colmenar.
Rachel will also guest in Love Moves, the Valentine concert of Julia Fordham at Solaire Resort and Casino Ballroom. The show is a benefit for the trauma healing sessions of the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.
On Feb. 15, Rachel and mom Annie Brazil will guest in Julia’s special concert, Up Close and Personal, for architects and doctors, at the new Merk’s Place at the ground floor of United Architect Building, Scout Rallos, Quezon City.