Never underestimate the power of music and what it can do for you. At its very fundamental level, music can help boost your mood, lower your stress levels and even help you sleep better. But did you know the process of music-making has the ability to change your life for the better? It has been found that when you make music, it helps enrich the connection between your left and right brain, magnifies your memory and slows down brain ageing. It is no wonder why music schools are always teeming at the weekends and if you are in need of any inspiration, you do not have to look far since there are many Singapore-born and Singapore-based musicians in Singapore that have found great success. From seasoned veterans, like Stephanie Sun and Dick Lee, to up-and-coming stars like Nathan Hartono and Charlie Lim, take their cue and start using music as a way to express yourself. If you are new to this small nation and hoping to make music your career, here are a few musicians that you have to know.
Known to most Singaporeans as the judge of Singapore Idol for his astute and ‘on-point’ comments, Dick Lee is an instantly recognisable icon if you were to see him on the streets. To younger Singaporeans, he is probably remembered as the one who wrote the patriotic national day song of ‘Home’ for the National Day Parade in 1998. Not known to many is that Dick Lee has had an illustrious career as a performer and singer-songwriter. In the ’90s, Dick Lee found success by incorporating Asian elements into his unique brand of pop music and moved to Japan as a solo artist. More than just writing songs for himself and for other artistes, Dick Lee is also talented in the realms of theatre. He has written and composed many staged musicals like Beauty World, Fried Rice Paradise, Sing To The Dawn and Snow.Wolf.Lake for Jacky Cheung.
Most of Kit Chan’s long-time fans would probably have discovered her music when they first listened to the Mandarin ballad of Heartache for the first time, but the pop star didn’t originally intend to set out as a Mandopop star. After debuting her first record ‘Do Not Destroy The Harmony’ in Singapore and Malaysia, her label had her repackage the record with the inclusion of Heartache to be released in Taiwan and that was where she found great success, selling 150,000 copies in Taiwan. Since then, Kit Chan has continued recreating that success for the next 26 years in showbiz and celebrated her 25th anniversary with a sell-out two-night show in Singapore at the Esplanade Theatre. For younger Singaporeans, it is impossible to hold back the swelling emotions that one gets when listening to Kit Chan belt out the national day theme song of ‘Home’, written by songwriter Dick Lee. If you have one song you have to listen to today, it is ‘Home’.
It is impossible to not know Stefanie Sun since she has climbed to the top of the Mandopop world and has staked her claim as one of the reigning queens in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and of course, Singapore. Over her entire career, the singer-songwriter has released 13 albums and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. After establishing herself as one of the most successful Singaporean singers, Stefanie was invited to contribute to the National Day Theme song with ‘We Will Get There’ in 2002 and ‘One United People’ in the following year. To know how much Singapore loves her, you just need to look at how Stefanie Sun was the first local celebrity to have an orchid named after her in 2006 (it is the Dendrobium Stefanie Sun). In 2014, Madame Tussauds Singapore honoured her by placing a wax figure of the famed singer in their museum in Singapore.
A recent addition to the list, Nathan Hartono is one of those names that have sprung up in conversations after becoming the first Singaporean singer to make his name in the Sing! China competition in 2016. Not only was he chosen by music doyen Jay Chou to be his apprentice, but Nathan also went all the way to the grand final round and emerged as first runner-up. Back in Singapore shores, the popularity of Nathan Hartono has surged and his blossoming fame has led him to many new opportunities in the areas of music production and a starring role in his first film, “When Ghost Meets Zombie”.
Music is a big part of the Singapore culture and there is nothing short of talent going around this city-state. There are many up and coming local singer-songwriters like Charlie Lim, Sam Rui, Lingying and MAS1A hoping to take the mantle from the previous generation of singers as well as various live music spots in Singapore that allow new potential talents to showcase their skills. If you are looking to make a career out of making music, take inspiration from their stories and keep working hard on your craft.