Music

The Young Filipino-American Musicians Making Waves Right Now

From singer-songwriters to rappers.
IMAGE OLIVIA RODRIGO, SAWEETIE
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We love a good success stories, especially if it involves second- or third-generation Filipino-American immigrants making waves in the music industry. We’ve heard all about the Filipino-Americans in Hollywood, from Lou Diamond Philips to Dave Bautista. And the established Fil-Am musicians like Bruno Mars, Nicole Scherzinger, and Cassie.

So here are the young Filipino-American musicians bringing their talent to international music charts.

Olivia Rodrigo

This up-and-coming pop star is only 18, but her singles “Driver’s License,” “Deja Vu,” and “Good 4 U” have already charted globally, and her debut album Sour was met with critical acclaim. Rodrigo, whose Filipino heritage hails from her father’s side, started out as a Disney star in a High School Music spin-off, but it’s clear she’s making her own way in the music industry, and there’s already Grammy predictions to boot.

Saweetie

Born to a Filipino-Chinese mother, Saweetie, whose real name is Diamonte Quiava Valentin Harper, started her music career on social media with a rap cover over the explicit song “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” by Khia. That cover eventually evolved into her first single, “Icy Girl” which became a rare hit from a young and relatively unknown female rapper. She’s collaborated with major acts in hip hop and rap like Doja Cat, Tyga, and Jhene Aiko, and her first studio album Pretty Bitch Music will be released this year.

Bella Poarch

Bella Poarch was born in the Philippines and adopted by an American family as a child. She joined the U.S. Navy when she was 18 and served for four years, before eventually creating a TikTok account and becoming a social media star. This last year saw Poarch her first ever single and music video, an edgy pop song titled “Build a Bitch.”

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H.E.R.

H.E.R., whose real name is Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, might be young (she’s only 24), but she’s definitely the most established Fil-Am artist on this list, and perhaps one of the most awarded Filipino-American musicians ever. She already has four Grammys under her belt and countless number one songs like “Best Part” and “Damage.” Born to a Filipino mother, she’s also known for her mysterious on-stage personality, opting to wear sunglasses so audiences remember to focus on her music instead of fame and hype.

Dominic Fike

Like H.E.R. and Saweetie, Fike is also half-Filipino and half-African America. And again like Saweetie, Fike started out on Soundcloud, and caught the attention of record labels that reportedly started a bidding war to win him over. Fun fact: he recorded his EP Don’t Forget About Me Demos while he was under house arrest for battery of a police officer. He later went to jail for breaking that house arrest at around the same time his hit song “3 Nights” went global. His latest song is “Die For You” with Justin Bieber.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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