January 31, 2023

Cordillera’s nightingale Ingrid Payaket’s “Saving Grace” has emerged as champion in the 2020 Vehnee Saturno online songwriting contest among thousands of entries nationwide.

Payaket, who composed and interpreted her piece, has captured the online audience through its message of hope in the midst of the pandemic. 

She said Saving Grace is her first foray in songwriting and the second one to be studio-produced after her “Bangon Baguio” composition, which won in the recent Baguio songwriting competition. 

“The title was conceived years ago when I was still working in Manila as a nurse. It was a difficult time for me being far away from home and still doing double jobs, but music has always been my form of release and source of comfort, my personal saving grace. I didn’t know how to write a song back then but I was already sure about the theme and the title,” said Payaket, who traces her roots to Kabayan, Benguet.

When the pandemic struck, she volunteered as a mental health advocate where she heard stories of faith and hope that sustained a lot of the frontliners.

“We are not only dealing with this pandemic but also the psychological effects of isolation, loss of income, fear and anxiety. But despite the darkness, His light shines through,” she said.

She then took up online songwriting class through Jim Paredes of the Apo Hiking Society, which gave her the push to finally write a song. This gave her the confidence to join the Vehnee Saturno online songwriting competition she saw on Facebook.

Payaket, who is no stranger to the national stage when she became one of the finalists to the “Pilipinas Got Talent” in 2010 as a solo singer, said it took a pandemic for her to step out and try songwriting.

Saving Grace is the only inspirational song among the top 10 finalists, as most of the other entries delved into romantic love and some on social commentaries on environment.

The song’s well-mixed sound and instrumental is courtesy of the talented Janrau Beray, son of country singer Raul Beray, which was complemented by a well-produced creative music video by Sherwil Ryge Production, shot in different locations in La Union, and directed by Vernon Cabading.

One can be mesmerized by the vocal power of Payaket, especially when she hits the high notes in a controlled fashion, a sweet spot in the song’s pre-chorus building up to the chorus as she repeatedly delivers, “You’re my saving grace.”

The songstress, who is known for her incredible Miss Saigon covers, said she wanted to explore other styles, genres, and languages, as well as eventually writing for other singers in the future.   

Aside from singing, Payaket is an active member of the Anxiety and Depression Support Group Baguio, which conducts de-stressing and debriefing activities for frontliners, barangay officials, and private institutions.

She has also been doing virtual concerts and livestreams in her Facebook account for various fundraising causes and mental health awareness campaigns.

She also thanked her sponsors, Uncle Tom Sukang Iloko Team La Union, Shirley Santos, and Vernalyn Bala-oy of Team La Trinidad.

The competition, organized by the Vehnee Saturno Music Corp., is in celebration of Saturno’s 40th year in the music industry.

Payaket, along with the second and third placers in the competition, will be given cash prizes and song contracts by the VSMC. – Ofelia C. Empian