It seems Nathan Hartono’s stint on popular singing competition Sing! China has opened the floodgates for a wave of Singaporean singers to follow suit. Last year, Nathan finished a triumphant second on the show to much media fanfare and free milo peng for the nation. This year, comes four females to fly the Singapore flag high and proud.
Stella Seah, 25
Okay, so Stella has since been booted off the show — she lost to Malaysian Janice Tan from Jay’s team after performing Khalil Fong and Wang Leehom’s electronic dance number ‘Flow’. But, here’s a shout-out to the go-getter anyway.
Following her ousting from Sing! China, Stella posted this pic on her Instagram, captioning it: “From this competition, I didn't lose anything but i gained a lot! So you don't need to worry about or comfort me. I'm already very satisfied! To me, this is not the end but the beginning of something beautiful… This past decade of holding on to my dream, I haven’t been super successful in my career. But I still love singing and composing so much, and am still so persistent in using my voice to tell stories. Two words: Gu zhi (Stubborn)!”
Stella first caught our eye during Jocie Kok’s press con this March. She was standing by the side filming her Ocean Butterflies labelmate. The doe-eyed cutie made us sit up and stare not just ’cos of her full head of platinum blonde hair but also for the fact that she, too, is a star. How did we know that? Well, the snaking queue of fans lining to take a selfie with her post-event was a clue. Fast forward five months later, and Stella’s face is all over the news for having passed the blind auditions of Sing! China. The singer-songwriter’s funky rendition of Richie Ren’s ‘I’m a Fish’ on the show had two out of the four judges — Jay Chou, Eason Chan, Na Ying and Chinese songwriter Liu Huan — fighting for her. Stella eventually choose Na Ying over Eason. The Campus Superstar alumnus and LASELLE graduate also released an EP, Wings of Dreams, in 2014.
Now that she has been thrust into mainstream consciousness with Sing! China, will this herald new beginnings for the up-and-comer? No matter what, Stella, you’re already a winner in our hearts. Meanwhile, here are the other three Singapore representatives still in the running.
Olinda Cho, 37
Of course, Olinda needs no introduction. While her fellow Singapore Idol-ers have dropped out of the reality singing competition circuit, Olinda’s still at it. The second time lucky singer joined Sing! China last year but failed to make it past the blind audition. This time round, three mentors — Jay, Na Ying and Liu Huan — fought for her to be on their respective teams. Olinda eventually picked Jay. No surprise there, given that she sang Jay’s ballad ‘Secret’, which she nailed to goosebumps-inducing perfection. (Now, wouldn’t it have been embarrassing if Jay didn’t pick her?). Currently, Olinda runs talent agency Nu Management with model-actress Sheila Sim. She has other projects lined up too, including launching her own YouTube channel OliTV, which will feature a talk show hosted by Oli.
Olinda has since advanced to the third round of Sing! China, after beating out Taiwan's Wang Chen Nuo from Na Ying's team with her rendition of A-mei's 'Blue Sky'.
Curley Gao, 18
Say what you will about a Chinese national representing Singapore. We’ll choose to focus on Curley’s impossibly rich rendition of Sodagreen’s ‘Incomparable Beauty’ that had an impressed Eason raising an eyebrow right from the get-go of her audition. He was also the first to hit the buzzer for her, followed by Na Ying, Curley’s eventual choice for mentor. On the show, Jay likened her rich vocals to that of homegrown singer Tanya Chua. The Xinjiang-born Dunman High student moved to Singapore with her family when she was nine. Like Olinda, this is um, the Curley-haired lass’ second shot at the auditions. And she’s a hot fave. It was announced on Sing! China’s Facebook page that Curley is currently the most popular contestant on the show.
Like Oli, Curley has also made it through to the next round with her performance of Guns N' Roses 'Sweet Child O' Mine'.
Joanna Dong, 35
Click here to read our previous feature on the jazz singer and self-confessed auntie.
Khim Ng, 25
Special shoutout to the Campus Superstar alumnus who was picked by Eason only to be dropped later ’cos the judge-mentor had exceeded his quota of nine singers on his team. Na Ying and Eason had fought over the power-lunged singer after her astounding rendition of Alanis Morissette’s ‘You Oughta Know’. She went with Eason but was let go in the next round. Oh well, try again next year? In the meantime, you can catch the raspy-voiced full-time musician at her regular gigs at Shanghai Dolly and The Mad Men Attic Bar.