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K-Pop Crossover: Filipina 'Star Search' Sensation Josephine ‘Banig’ Roberto Relives Her Hallyu History [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | November 26, 2014 07:34 PM EST

Josephine Roberto was born with some serious pipes.

A native of Pasay City, Philippines, Roberta started performing in public when she was 3 years old. Dubbed "Banig" on her first television appearance at age 7, the 36-year-old vocalist was launched onto the world stage when she won "International Star Search" on American television in 1989.

The first time she appeared on "The Arsenio Hall Show," Roberto's rousing rendition of "Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose" moved the seasoned host to exclaim "I can't believe that kind of voice comes out of that body!"

In the years since, Josephine Roberto dropped the "Banig" moniker and is ready for a big time comeback.

Coming off the heels of her newest single "He Wants To Get It," released last July, Roberto sat down with KpopStarz to discuss her love of Hallyu culture, earlier this week, in an exclusive interview.

"I am a sucker for pop music and culture and I am especially obsessed with artists who are great performers who can sing, dance and perform," she said. "K-pop artists are all about performance and big production which we can all appreciate." 

And it's no suprise, Roberto confessed, considering where she is from.

"K-pop is huge in the Philippines!" she exclaimed.

"The unbelievable productions that K-pop artists produce are just to die for, from an artist's point of view.   The videos they come up with, the live concert production numbers, staging, et cetera. They're pretty amazing. They go big on everything. I love it."

Roberto also admits she is drawn to K-pop for another reason than the music and colorful presentation.

"My guilty pleasures are the boy groups, of course, [like] Super Junior," she said. "They take me back to those days when my sister and I used to go 'goo goo gaa gaa' over New Kids on the Block back in our day. I'm still a total girly girl at heart."

"Other artists [I like] are 2NE1, BoA and Jay Park, and of course, I'm really proud of what PSY has done in the music world, especially in the mainstream," Roberto added.

Like billions of PSY fans from around the world, Roberto first noticed K-pop artists through their music videos.

"When I first discovered K-pop, the very first video that caught my attention was Super Junior's 'Sorry Sorry,'" she said. "I've got a thing for black and white music videos that showcase performances and that's what that video was all about. The song was very catchy. So I was singing it for days and because my sister and I grew up as dancers, we always appreciate dance videos with good choreography. It was just my type of video."

Continuing her personal Hallyu history tour, Roberto continued.

"Then I discovered 2NE1," she said. "They're huge in the Philippines! They are spunky talented girls who got such sass and attitude in their music videos. And they can sing, rap and dance. Then, PSY came out and blew everybody away with his US hits and made it known worldwide."

The artist formerly known as Banig feels some pride in what K-pop artists have accomplished.

"We need more of these [success stories] in the US music scene to showcase the Asian pop culture and let the world know that Asian artists can come out with great music, videos and live concerts too."

Listen to Josephine Roberto's latest single, "He Wants To Get It," RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  josephone banig roberto, arsenio hall, star search

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