Have you ever heard of Charice Pempengco (now known simply as Charice)? If not, I guarantee you will after her first international album is released. I'm so enthusiastic about this girl that I feel that telling others about her is giving them a gift. Despite being just 4'11", she has the most powerful, amazing voice you'll ever hear. She has fans of all ages around the world and can put so much emotion into a song that she'll make you cry.

Charice, who turned 18 on May 10, has appeared four times on Oprah, sung with the famous tenor Andrea Bocelli in Tuscany, performed with Celine Dion at Madison Square Garden and, more recently, three times as the featured guest on a popular Italian TV show, Ti Lascio Una Canzone. The show got a 60% market share when she performed; the hostess ran out of superlatives to describe her, and the orchestra conductor was initially speechless but later said, "She doesn't have a gift from God, she IS a gift from God."

Charice grew up in poverty, in a barrio in the Philippines. When she was three, her father attacked her mother, so Charice, her mother, and her younger brother left him. They moved from place to place, at times even living in the street. Her mother worked in a garment factory, 16 hours a day, six days a week, to support the family. When Charice was four, her mother noticed her extraordinary singing ability and began devoting her life to nurturing her talent. Until she was nearly 17, her only vocal coaches had been her mother and her aunt! Charice began performing at age 7, eventually appearing in over 80 singing contests. She used her winnings to help support her family.

Here is Charice at age 9, singing Celine Dion's "To Love You More" on the TV show "Bulilit Starquest." Her performance placed first, giving Charice her first major contest win.