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Charice: The next Celine Dion?

By Shanon Cook, Special to CNN
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4-foot-9 with a towering voice
  • Charice once performed at Madison Square Garden with Celine Dion
  • Producer David Foster calls the young singer incredible
  • Last week, Charice released her self-titled debut album in the United States
  • Charice and her brother, Karl, were raised by their single mother in the Philippines

(CNN) -- She's only 4-foot-9, but Charice has a towering voice. When she applies her vocal pipes to a Whitney Houston ballad, she makes it look as easy as tying her shoelaces.

"She's incredible," says her producer and mentor, Grammy-winner David Foster. A veteran at nurturing new artists, he likens Charice's star power to another talent he helped discover. "It's like the first time I saw Celine Dion. It's exactly the same to me."

Even Dion is paying attention to the teen. In 2008, she invited Charice on stage at Madison Square Garden in New York for a duet of her hit song "Because You Loved Me." Charice, who has idolized Dion since she was 4, was only 16 at the time.

Last week, Charice celebrated her 18th birthday (we interviewed her a couple of weeks beforehand) by releasing her self-titled debut album in the United States.

She may have gotten her start singing power pop ballads in local contests in her native Philippines (which later translated to key performances for Oprah and Ellen), but her album has a more youthful, dance-pop feel. The lead single "Pyramid," featuring singer Iyaz, is in the No. 1 spot on Billboard's dance chart.

Some more tidbits about Charice:

Feedback welcome

Clips of Charice on YouTube get views in the millions, but the singer says she can't bare to watch them. She does, however, read the comments people post about her performances: "If it's good to them then it's good to me because they're watching and they know if it's good or not. I'm depending on their comments because it's really, really weird watching myself."

Call me, JT!

Charice has already performed with her idols Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, so who's next on her wish list? "I'm hoping and I'm praying either Justin Timberlake or Beyonce 'cause I love them both. Beyonce is one of my inspirations. Her attitude, her style, her voice ... she's perfect."

Home follows her

Charice and her brother, Karl, were raised by their single mother in the Philippines. Her Filipino fans are extremely loyal and show up in generous numbers to her live shows in America. Says Charice: "I'm really proud to be Filipino. Filipinos are really supportive, and I want to thank all of them. I love them!"

Teetering on footwear

While Charice feels most comfortable wearing sneakers ("I'm a Nike girl"), she's enjoying collecting pairs of impressively high heels, which she says she needs to boost her diminutive stature on stage. On that note, Charice says Oprah imparted sage advice during one of Charice's visits to "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She said, 'Keep your feet on the ground even though you're wearing high shoes.' "

Tiny dancer

And when she's not balancing on towering heels, Charice says she can pull off a pretty solid moonwalk: "When I was 4 years old, I thought that I wanted to be a dancer like Michael Jackson."