Vehnee Saturno: Certified Hitmaker
His career as a professional songwriter kicked off in 1982 when he won the Grand Prize in the prestigious Metro Manila Popular Music Festival (Metropop) with the song “Isang Dakot,” interpreted by an unknown singer named Sonia Singson. This big break came after barely a year of trying his luck in literally peddling songs to record companies. In the succeeding year, he bagged two slots in the 6th Metropop Professional Division via the songs “Ako’y Ako” and “Be My Lady.” The Tagalog song got the Second Prize, while the English one, did not get any award but would be his vehicle to fame.
In 1983, Vehnee Saturno scored his first big hit in the song “Be My Lady,’ which was recorded by then promising singer, Martin Nievera. The balladeer rose to stardom thru the song, while the composer received numerous offers from record companies. The song’s popularity also attracted the interest of famous international singer, Mr. Matt Monroe. In that same year, Saturno earned that honor of being the only Filipino, whose song was recorded by the legendary singer/performer.
That big break led to a string of gold, platinum, and multi-platinum record awards. He scored a surprise hit in the song “Sana Kahit Minsan” that gave birth to a new singing sensation in Ariel Rivera. The song also gave him a songwriter’s contract with BMG Hong Kong in 1993, that made possible for Hong Kong superstar Jacky Cheung to record a Chinese version of the hit song and turned him (Saturno) into an international hit maker. Other popular Chinese singers like Ekin, Jacky Wu, Vivian Chow, Karen Tong and many others, also recorded his songs in Hong Kong, and Taiwan. His songs were heard all over Asia. BMG Music Publishing in Hong Kong even sent him as their representative to the 1994 Pacific Harmony Songwriting workshop in Bali, Indonesia.
He finally found his niche in the Philippine Music Industry as his career soared during the 90’s. Saturno compositions almost dominated the airwaves and market. His songs launched the careers of Ella May Saison with “Bakit Ba?” and “Till My Heartaches End” and Allona with “Someone’s Always Saying Goodbye.” In 1990, his song “Nag-iisang Ikaw” for Louie Heredia was the most requested Original Pilipino Music (OPM) and gave Heredia his first Platinum Award. Hit after hit, his songs did wonders to the rising careers of Donna Cruz, with “Only Me and You;” Jessa Zaragoza, with “Bakit Pa?;” Jaya with “Dahil Tanging Ikaw” and “Wala Na Bang Pag-ibig.” Even singing heartthrob Jay-R and Pop Princess Sarah Geronimo acknowledge the fact that Saturno’s songs, “Bakit Pa Ba?” and “Forever’s Not Enough” greatly contributed to their respective careers.
Numerous trophies and plaques that adorn his office include those from Awit Awards for “Best Ballad Recording,” “Best Pop Recording,” “Best Christmas Recording,” “Album of The Year” for his production,” among others, and the highest award given by Awit to any musician, the “Dangal Ng Musikang Pilipino Award” in 2001. Also included in his collection are Metropop trophies and precious statuettes from the Filipino Academy of the Philippines, from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS), and from Metro Manila Film Festival, all for Best Musical Scoring and Best Theme Song for movies.
In between writing hit songs, he also joined (and won) prestigious international songwriting festivals. He was awarded the Best Composition Award in the 3rd ASEAN Song Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1983, for the song “Kung Akin Lang,” interpreted by Ivy Violan. In 1985, his song “Sino Pa Nga Ba,” again sung by Ivy Violan, won 1st–runner–up in Best Composition in the First Asia Pacific Song Contest in Singapore. Another Best Composition Award came in 1991 from the 7th ASEAN Song Festival held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the song “Love Is All We Need,” interpreted by Samantha Chavez. In 1993, Saturno and Samantha got the elusive Grand Prize in the Midnight Sun Song Festival in Finland via the song “One Dream, One Love.” His song “Sana Kahit Minsan” won First Prize (out of almost 30,000 entries) in the Instrumental Category, the USA Songwriting Contest in 1999. The Voice of Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan was next in 2001, where he won the Best Composition Award for the song “Where There Is Love,” interpreted by the Grand Prize Winner, Ladine Roxas. After winning the Best Song Award in the said festival, he was invited to be part of the international jury in subsequent competitions. In the 2004 Asia Shanghai Music Festival, his song “From the Start” (a collaboration with lyricist Tito Cayamanda) won the Best Song, which was the entry song of Silver Prize winner Rachelle Ann Go.
On May 26, 2006, Vehnee Saturno celebrated his 25th year in the songwriting business, with a musical extravaganza at the Araneta Coliseum. Rightfully so, Mr. Martin Nievera opened the show with Saturno’s first certified hit, “Be My Lady.” Some of the country’s biggest performers who joined the momentous event and sang Saturno hits were Jaya, Jessa Zaragoza, Dingdong Avanzado, Rachelle Ann Go, Jay-R, MYMP, Kyla, Mark Bautista, and many more. It was a fitting tribute to a man whose contribution to the local music industry is definitely a tough act to follow.
Refusing to rest on his laurels, Vehnee Saturno tirelessly continues to write and produce songs. Amazingly, he has not lost his magic, as he remains one of the most sought-after songwriters in the industry. Willie Revillame’s Album which he produced and carries ten of his compositions including hits like “Ikaw Na Nga” “Kung Para Sa ‘Yo” and “Yun Ka” won the Pop Album of the Year in the 1st PMPC Star Awards for Music in 2009. The follow-up album called I Love You, topped the record bars charts since its release in late December 2010 and turned platinum in less than a month. Yet another international award came in May of 2010 when his composition “Within” which he co-wrote with his daughter Popsie Saturno, bagged the best song award and helped Philippine representative Lordenn Panganiban win the Grand Prize for the 2010 Asia New Singer Competition, held in Beijing, China.
Indeed, Vehnee Saturno still has a long way to go.