AFTER 20 years of being lauded both individually and as a pair for paving the way for local R&B, soul, and hip-hop to make it in the mainstream, Filipino musicians Kyla and Jay R return for a long-awaited callback to their roots in Back In Time: Kyla and Jay R The Reunion Concert.

Their return to the big stage, the first in many years, will take place at the New Frontier Theatre in Cubao, Quezon City, on Sept. 2.

Kyla and Jay R (which are the stage names of Melanie Hernandez Calumpad and Gaudencio Sillona III, respectively) began singing and collaborating with each other in the 1990s. They had also been paired as a love team — a popular gimmick that appeals to Filipinos’ love for romance — which fans nicknamed “JayLa.”

Today they are married to different people, but they remain strong musical partners. Their chart-toppers include the likes of “Let the Love Begin,” “Say That You Love Me,” and “Undeniable.”

For Jay R, agreeing to the reunion concert was a no-brainer, especially given their natural chemistry as singers.

“I’m a big fan of Kyla. We’ve been friends for 20 years and we’ve worked together for that long as well. Actually, we’ve only fought one time before,” Jay R said during a press conference on Aug. 24.

“I miss her voice onstage, when she’s singing. She really puts you in a trance,” he added.

The so-called “R&B King of the Philippines” also shared that they can’t even remember the last time they performed together, having only appeared on television and in a few events in the last few years.

In a previous press conference, Kyla said that Jay R brings out the best in her, to which he responded likewise.

“As a singer her range is so high and her kulot (a term for melodic ornamentation while singing) is so different. When we were first starting out, we had our own ad libs but at the time I was trying to do something different and jazzy, then Kyla took it to a different level,” he said.

As for the concert’s title, Back in Time, Jay R explained that it was named after the song he is most excited to perform with his musical partner.

Composed in 2008, it was the first and only song that he produced on his own from start to finish. However, they never got to make a music video or any sort of visual for it.

“Every time we get a chance to sing this song, I’m very excited, especially because I wrote it for us,” said Jay R. “It’s the first song that I wrote in just 30 minutes!”

Like Kyla herself, the track holds a dear place in his heart, he said.

The upcoming concert will likely have a setlist of 30 songs, some of which will be included in a medley. For both musicians, the goal is to “give the audience something nostalgic but new at the same time.”

Tickets for Back In Time: Kyla and Jay R The Reunion Concert are now available via TicketNet online and all TicketNet outlets nationwide, with ticket prices ranging from P1,500 to P8,100. The concert is presented by GNN Pop, a subsidiary of GNN Entertainment Productions, and Cornerstone Entertainment. — Brontë H. Lacsamana