South Border is the Philippines’ premier Pop and R&B band formed in the 90s and gained even recognition in the music scene in the 2000s.
Having undergone several permutations in its long career, South Border has nevertheless retained its unique sound and musical sensibility and has even moved up along the current global trends in music. Hence, retaining the top spot in their particular musical genre. Much credit goes to musical director and lead creative genius Jay Durias, the staunchest unifying force that has kept the band and its music alive and thriving.
The band, whose name is a tribute to their roots in Davao down south, first came into national prominence in 1996 when they launched their first self-titled album. It included a Jimmy Antiporda song entitled “May Pag-Ibig Pa Kaya’ which they interpreted in the Metro Manila Pop Music Festival earlier that year. Another song, “Kahit Kailan” was awarded 1996 Song of the Year by various radio stations, thus giving them their first big hit.
The following year, the album reached gold, then platinum. South Border was all set for their first major concert at the Araneta Coliseum. As expected, thousands of their new found fans trooped to fill the massive dome to the brim. Before the end of 1997, the exceptional talents of South Border was recognized by their peers in the industry when they bagged the most number of trophies at the 10th AwitAwards including Best Performance by a New Duo or Group, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Produced Record of the Year for their hit song, “Kahit Kailan”. By the end of 1997, their debut album has gone triple platinum and South Border was a certified star band.
Not long after that, in the midst of a flourishing career, South Border found itself in the eye of a storm which called for a conspicuous change in their lineup. Luke Mejares replaced Brix Ferraris on lead vocals. But despite discouraging forecasts, South Border got back on their feet in no time. In a rush of creative adrenaline, the band doubled their efforts to finish their second album called Bump! It featured “Sa ‘Yo” a haunting ballad that spoke of a heart’s yearning for a loved one and “Reborn,” South Border’s first attempt at recording an instrumental piece reminiscent of their early jazz influences. In 1999, South Border once again caught the critical eye and bagged a total of 12 Katha Music awards including Record of the Year, Best Pop Song, and Best R&B Song—all for “Sa ‘Yo”. The following year, the band released its first live recording which was well-received by their fans and drew rave reviews from critics. At the turn of the new millennium, the band once again made waves with the success of “Habang Atin ang Gabi” the theme song from La Vida Rosa a Rossana Roces-Diether Ocampo film. The lyrics were written by scriptwriter Armando Lao and the music was composed by Jay Durias, who considers this song to be one of his best compositions and arrangements to date.
The same song became the carrier single for their fourth album, The Way We Do released in 2001. In November of the same year, South Border staged their biggest major show at the 30,000-seater PSC Track and Field Oval. But in the final quarter of 2002, another surprise jolted South Border’s avid followers: the announcement that Luke was leaving the band to go solo. The search for his replacement was going to be another grueling task.
Having gone through another major change in their lead vocals lineup, the band scored a major win when they got not one but two astonishing vocal talents in Vince Alaras and Duncan Ramos. 26-year old Vince, was a member of La Salle’s Kundirana and was then known as “the boy who sounded like Brian McKnight". The younger Duncan on the other hand was a child prodigy — a singing and dancing wonder boy who often accompanied Gary Valenciano in his shows and tours allover the country.
The two new talents who danced as well as they sang, provided a fresh and youthful take on South Border which has since then came up with the current hits we all hear on the radio and even on television today. The biggest of which is perhaps “Rainbow” which first hit the airwaves in 2003 for the promotion of megastar Sharon Cuneta’s Metro Manila Film Festival entry, Crying Ladies. South Border’s music even dominated television with their song “Ikaw Nga” —the love theme from the phenomenal hit TV series Mulawin. In 2004, the band released their first album under their own independent label. Episode III was a gigantic commercial success that included hits “The Show” and “Brown Hand Smash” — two songs that gave the group an edgier, danceable R&B sound.