Born in San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines and raised by a single mother, he helped support the family by joining many amateur singing contests (about 80+ he said in an interview). When he was three years old, he witnessed his abusive father point a gun at his mother during an episode of domestic violence. Along with his mother and younger brother Carl, they left their father in search of a better life.
On November 1, 2011, his estranged father, Ricky Pempengco, was found murdered after a drunken street fight in San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines. His father was stabbed to death twice in the chest and in the back. He was 40 years old. Jake, who was supposed to have a concert in Singapore, cancelled the concert to attend the funeral. Jake responded to the stabbing on Twitter: "I want to thank my fans from around the world for their support and love at this very difficult time for my family and I." "We are all very sad about this terrible tragedy" and "I loved him and I will still love him"; "He's still my Dad after all."
On June 2, 2013, Jake, still percieved as cisgender, told audiences he was a lesbian in an interview with Boy Abunda in The Buzz. He also mentioned that he has past relationships with girls in the showbiz industry (ten of them, five of which were serious). Jake was in a relationship with Alyssa Quijano, but after four years of living together, in April 2017, they broke up.
In 2014, Pempengco revealed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that "basically, my soul is male", even though he wouldn't physically become a man through gender transition. In 2017, he made his first tweet under his chosen name, Jake Zyrus, and received lots of support from fans on twitter.
Jake started as a finalist at a local singing competition on Philippine television. He only managed to achieve third place and out of luck didn't make it big in the Philippine music industry. At age 15, Jake was invited by the producers of a Korean show called Star King. Uploaded on YouTube by an avid fan, his amazing performance on Star King went "viral" and attracted millions of views in a short time.
TV presenter Ellen DeGeneres discovered Jake's video in YouTube, who then invited him as a to guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show at the end of 2007. Months later, Oprah Winfrey invited Jake to guest on her own talk show as well.
Jake has performed at the Macy's NBC Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside David Archuleta, and with Celine Dion at one of his concerts. Jake has also received recognition from Josh Groban, David Spade and Jay Leno. He has performed with popular icons such as Michael Buble, Taylor Swift, and Andrea Bocelli, and later made a cameo appearance in his first feature film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which was released in North America on December 23, 2009.
After his exposure in Oprah, well-known & Multiple Grammy Award winning composer David Foster took the liberty to become Jake's coach. This also led to Jake having his very first international album Pyramid, where his single of the same name featured singer Iyaz. He was later then tagged as "The Internet Phenom from The Philippines." Jake comes from a Christian family, though he hasn't been baptized in a long while; when he decided to officially become a Christian and be baptized at church, Oprah Winfrey and David Foster became his godparents. On November 30, he appeared on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center and performed "Grown-up Christmas List" and "Jingle Bell Rock" with producer and mentor David Foster.
Jake now works on multiple projects, the latest includes Glee and Here Comes the Boom along with Salma Hayek and Kevin James which premiered in 2012. He also worked with Kara DioGuardi, Nick Jonas and Bruno Mars for her sophomore album due on 2011. He also sings New World, the theme song for the English version of the game Final Fantasy XIII-2
Jake is the very first Asian artist to ever reach an 8th spot at the Billboard 200 of the album charts with his album Pyramid.
- Main article: Sunshine Corazon
His character was introduced along with Chord Overstreet in Auditions. On an interview with Ryan Murphy, he hinted about Sunshine Corazon's future Glee role: "She's coming back in big way. We're finishing the year with her. She's coming back for 5 episodes at the end of the year. She's gonna be great ! Lots of big, big ballads for Charice." 
|2010||Glee||Sunshine Corazon||("Audition", "A Night of Neglect", "New York")|
|May Bukas Pa||Choir||("Santino Surprises Everyone")|
|2012||Here Comes the Boom||Malia|
Oprah Winfrey: She is the most talented girl in the world.
—Oprah Winfrey (to Jake), The Oprah Winfrey Show
David Foster: I can't think of a person on the planet right now that can deliver these songs better than you.
—David Foster (to Jake)
Ryan Murphy: When that girl opens her mouth, angels fly out...I was just so taken by Charice. Thats one of the things where somebody walks in and you're just so touched that you say, 'I have to write something for you'. So that's how it happened.
—Ryan Murphy (to Jake)
Ellen DeGeneres: You are gonna be blown away...you can just smell the star on her, you can just smell it.
—Ellen Degeneres (to Jake), The Ellen DeGeneres Show
- He likes to play basketball and is quite good at shooting goals.
- Jake can do a very convincing impression of Gru's Minions from the Despicable Me franchise.
- Jake has performed with various famous Asian singers, such as Lena Park, K.Will, and Kyuhyun of SuperJunior.