Darren Espanto, a Filipino-Canadian artist, has made an impressive mark in the Philippine music industry in less than a decade, with multiplatinum albums, sold-out concerts, acclaimed performances, and a No. 1 single under his belt. Darren is regarded as one of the decade’s most successful Filipino male pop/R&B artists.
He has achieved success not only as a recording star but also as one of the country’s most sought-after brand ambassadors, thanks to his incredible vocal chops, stellar stage presence, and fresh-faced appeal. He was recently appointed as the first celebrity Youth Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has been actively involved in programs related to climate change, biodiversity conservation, and youth empowerment.
In recent years, Darren Espanto has developed his passion for songwriting and producing and has been technically hands-on in several of his new releases. From one song to another, Darren is relentless in pushing the envelope of pop craftsmanship by exploring other music genres, from electronic pop to modern R&B, and everything else in between. He has grown before our eyes from being a youthful crooner with outstanding pipes to finding his own voice and style. In a very competitive pop music landscape, Darren stands out as a refreshing and endearing personality whose music speaks to you on an intimate, personal level.
The pop sensation broke through the public consciousness in 2014 after placing second in the first season of The Voice Kids Philippines. The then 13-year-old contestant was an instant favorite during the blind audition and became a showstopping force from one round to another. During the same year, Darren joined ABS-CBN’s talent management outfit, Star Magic, and was immediately signed by MCA Music Inc., the Philippine regional branch of the multinational Universal Music Group.
In December 2014, the Pinoy teen star released his first studio self-titled album, which debuted at No. 1 on Apple’s iTunes and Astro charts. The award-winning record was certified Double Platinum by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI), and produced the chart-topping singles “Stuck,” “In Love Ako Sa’yo” and the Jessie J cover “Domino.”
In May 2015, the Filipino recording star staged his first solo concert at the MOA Arena, setting a record for the youngest artist to headline his very own show at the prestigious venue. The following year saw Darren releasing his sophomore album, Be With Me under MCA Music Inc., which featured two of his very own compositions for the first time. The platinum-certified album has yielded three hit singles namely “7 Minutes,” “Starlight,” and “Parachute.” All three tracks debuted at the top spot of the iTunes Philippines chart on the day of its release.
Darren went on to land several important music gigs here and abroad, and eventually made a huge comeback in 2017 when he released “Dying Inside To Hold You,” which serves as the official soundtrack of the hit movie, All For You, starring Jennylyn Mercado and Derek Ramsey. The remake of the ‘90s hit eventually became one of the biggest hits of 2017, amassing more than a hundred million streams and views on Spotify and YouTube, combined.
His winning streak continued in 2019 when co-headlined a sold-out concert with Jonalyn Viray and Lani Misalucha in Cebu, Davao, and Manila. Darren appeared in notable international engagements, first as the Filipino guest performer in the grand finals of Singer 2019 in China, and another one as part of the eleven Asian singers invited to perform the theme song for the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit titled “Side by Side.” A rendition of the historic Disney duet, ‘A Whole New World’ was also performed by Darren together with Filipina pop star Morissette Amon last May 2019, now at 10.5 million streams on Spotify and 10 million views on YouTube.
The following year, Darren released his Christmas single, “Believe in Christmas”, under MCA Music Inc. As expected, the song debuted at the top spot of the iTunes Philippines chart two hours after it was made available on the said digital platform. Its official music video has racked up more than a hundred thousand views within days.
Aside from releasing commercially successful albums and smash singles, Darren has bagged more than 70 recognitions on different award-giving bodies in the field of music and entertainment, most prominent among the bunch were Awit Awards, Aliw Awards, MYX Music Awards, Wish Music Awards, MPC Star Awards for Music, Star Cinema Awards, MOR Music Awards, and many more. This year alone, he bagged several recognitions, which include Village Pipol Choice Awards’ Performer of the Year, Wishclusive Ballad Performance of the Year for “Sasagipin Kita,” Silver Exclusive Elite Circle, and Push Cover of the Year for “A Whole New World” with Morisette Amon. He has performed as an opening act for international artists like Selena Gomez, Jessie J., and Alex Aiono, and later ventured into acting where he played the role of Yohan, Kathryn Bernardo’s younger brother in the romantic drama film, The Hows Of Us. The KathNiel-starrer went on to become the second-highest-grossing Filipino movie of all time, earning more than 800 million in the box office.
As the first celebrity youth appointed by United Nations Development Programme, Darren has proven himself to be a reliable global ambassador who has brought a creative and inspiring perspective to the social and environmental issues that the entire world is facing today. In his capacity as the UNDP Philippines Youth Advocate, he was part of the #Mission1Point5 climate action global campaign, and was invited as a keynote speaker for the International Youth Day Youth Forum 2020 with the theme “Building a Better Normal with the Youth.” He celebrated his 19th birthday with an online charity concert entitled, D Birthday Concert from Home and raised P838,206.69 for ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig program.
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