Filipino boy group SB19 have established themselves among the flagbearers of the country when it comes to representing Filipino music, talent, and artistry. Ever since their dance practice video for their song "Go Up" went viral in 2019, the five-member group composed of Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin, have been on a steady climb towards their goals.
In 2021, SB19 became the first Filipino and Southeast Asian artists to ever be nominated in the Billboard Music Awards under the Top Social Artist category. They were chosen alongside worldwide acts like BTS, BLACKPINK, Ariana Grande, and Seventeen. They are also the first Filipino music act to enter the Top 10 of Billboard's social chart.
SB19's career paths before debut
But before achieving the kind of success they have now, the boys had completely different career paths in the years prior to their debut in 2018.
SB19 leader and main rapper Pablo, whose real name is John Paulo Nase, used to work in real estate as a data analyst. Josh, the group's oldest member, lead rapper, and sub vocalist, worked as a call center agent. Stell, the main vocalist, lead dancer, and choreographer in the group, took up Hotel and Restaurant Management at STI College. Ken, the designated main dancer and lead vocalist, was a BS Architecture major at Technological Institute of the Philippines before he joined the group. Justin, the group's youngest member and sub vocalist, took up Multimedia Arts at De La Salle - College of St. Benilde and graduated with honors in 2018, the same year they debuted.
Despite their respective career paths, the five members all came together to pursue one dream.
SB19's journey to success
While the group's achievements since officially debuting as a group are nothing short of impressive and nakaka-proud, the road to success wasn't exactly crystal-clear. They've even reached the point where almost all the members had quit before debut because of the uncertainty.
In a guest appearance on Toni Gonzaga's Toni Talks, SB19 also opened up about the hardships they had to go through before launching as a group. The members have been training for years under ShowBT, a Korean talent management company. As trainees, they practiced for hours, sacrificed so much of their personal lives and even their regular jobs, and weren't earning any salary. Josh shares, "Nagte-training po ako, pero honestly, wala po akong makain sa araw-araw. Nanghihingi ako ng baon kay Paulo [Pablo]. 'Pag hindi siya nakapagbaon, edi hindi rin ako kakain, parang gano'n."
At some point, four out of the five members, have decided to quit. Only Stell decided to stay. "Dumating sa point na talagang wala nang nangyayari, sobrang tagal na nating nagte-training," Justin says, who was balancing his studies and training at that time. "Napag-decidan nga po nung one point na 'yon na nag-alisan lahat, pero si Stell, nag-decide po siyang mag-stay."
On why he decided to stay, Stell shares, "Ito yung gusto kong gawin sa buhay ko. Ito yung gusto kong ma-achieve." The others eventually realized that they wanted to try again and take the risk, especially since they already gave up so much and have already gone so far into training. Now, the group has come so far, with a dedicated fan base called A'TIN joining them in their journey.
Watch SB19's interview with Toni Gonzaga here:
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