Sj is a young breed of Filipino songwriter who was born in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite and is now based here in Los Angeles.
The development of her unique songwriting style is the result of a lifetime of musical influences, coming from her late mom’s side of the family as she witnessed the family sing at church services. Her dad on the other hand injected his love for deep vocabulary with his unique use of words in stage plays. A music loving mom plus a talented playwright dad makes for what Sj is right now.
Her first foray into learning the piano herself came when she was in preschool, about 5 years old. She tried to have formal training but because she was too eager to tap the piano keys, she defied her teacher’s musical notes teaching and went on doing what she wanted to do
Sj’s musical journey began in the Philippines, in her hometown of Cavite where she developed her musical taste and interests. It wasn’t long after tapping those keys that she found herself experimenting with the musical instrument.
After meeting with the world renowned and respectable singer/songwriter, Mr. Jose Mari Chan, she began to showcase her talents in various competitions. Growing up in Las Pinas, she represented the city at the then renowned, Metro Pop Music Festival. Garnering the 1st runner up award, she got lucky when a representative from Octo Arts approached her and asked if she would be interested in submitting her song to the said recording company. She was quickly noted for the unique style that her song was chosen.
As her confidence grew and her style developed, she soon saw an opportunity to keep on writing more songs. She wrote songs for Jamie Rivera (Each Time I See you), Shirley Fuentes (You’ll Always Be) and Angelika dela Cruz (My Only Wish), Jessa Zaragoza (Bumabalik Ang Nagdaan), and other various Filipino artists here in the United States. She also received an honorary distinction as the Best Composer of the Year here in the Los Angeles area from Celebrity Chronicle 2008. Thereafter, she wrote the theme song for the Filipino Town in Los Angeles, CA. SJ also collaborated with Mista Ty (Ty Perkins), an R&B singer who sang one of her songs, “Could Have Been”.
But although her name was continuing to grow, it was not where she pursued her career. As her parents would always say, “you need to pursue a college degree before you can think of pursuing a hobby”, she instead, fulfilled her obligation as a child to her parents by graduating from college and pursuing a post graduate degree. After picking up a Bachelor’ degree in Communication Arts in DeLa Salle University-Taft, she then went on working at the Diamond Hotel in Manila and at the same time had to put her first love aside. Here in the United States, she pursued Nursing but after merely two years working in the medical field, she left and returned to her first love, writing music and producing concerts.
Finally, after honing her unique sound over recent years, she released her debut album together with Divo Bayer, entitled, “Divo Bayer sings Sj Gandia”, which underlies the changes and experiences that Sj has gone through over the years.
SJ’s talent in writing music made her the official songwriter of the one of a kind children’s competition, Singing Champ from November 2012, which is patterned towards American Idol wherein the top 2 finalists will have a sing off using her original song composition. She became one of the prestigious judges of three age categories in the competition: 8-11, 12-14 and 15-18. SJ’s composition, “My Journey” was the theme song of 2012 competition and “Build A Better World” during the 2013 Singing Champ competition.
On December 12, 2012, LA Karilagan Lions Club 2012-13 recognized Sarah Jane Gandia as the “Most Fascinating Person of the Year 2012-Singer/Producer/Songwriter Composer” at Celebrity Centre International.
SJ then began producing successful concerts, as follows: “Three’s A Crowd” with Miguel Vera, Joseph Gelito and Miriam Pantig (February 2012); Aiza Seguerra Live in LA (March 2013), Erik Santos: The Greatest Theme Songs (September 2013) and Richard Poon and Juris Fernandez “Just The Two of Us” (November 2013), Stephen Bishop Live in LA (Feb 2014), John Ford Coley Live (May 2014), Aiza Seguerra 2nd concert in LA (Sept 2014), “In Nomine Matris” premiere (Dec 2014).
December 29, 2013, The City of Carson represented by Mayor Jim Dear and MPT Santarina awarded SJ Gandia a Certificate of Recognition in the field of songwriting for writing the official theme song of the first annual commemoration of Dr. Jose Rizal Day. Her song: “Tayo Ay Pilipino” (Tagalog Version) / “We Are The Filipinos” (English Version) will unite the Filipino Americans and promote friendship and look back to their root, Philippines. She was given different recognitions by different Filipino-American organizations including Kalayaan, “Outstanding Composer” Filipino Veterans awarded by Former Fidel V Ramos, “Ambassador of Goodwill” as a songwriter by Historic Filipino Town, Certificate of Recognition from CSDFAEA (San Diego) and was awarded a certificate from the Senate (San Diego).
Her song entry, “Bumabalik Ang Nagdaan” was chosen from about 6,000 entries of the prestigious songwriting competition, Himig Handog 2014 from Star Music and was one of the Top 15. SJ represented Los Angeles and bagged the first award given during the competition, “Star Music’s Choice Award”.
Since then, SJ received offers to write for different artists. She also wrote several commercial jingles of different companies like “Manila Sky”, gourmet ice cream company; “Balita Weekend, US Asian Post”, one of the leading newspaper companies in LA; “Smart Lipo” at Vermont Healthcare and “The Melting Cheesecake” of a charitable organization.