Photos: Isadora Ong and MediaCorp
Video: Tay Yixuan
40-year-old Singaporean chef Lee Chin Sin was crowned the winner of MediaCorp’s song-writing competition SG50: The Gift Of Song, organised to celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of independence. The songwriter had won the favour of the judges and the public with his original music composition titled ‘These Are The Days’.
Since the competition’s launch in September last year, MediaCorp has received an overwhelming response of close to 1000 entries by aspiring local songwriters. The songs were then put through the test and three finalists were selected by a panel of judges made up of distinguished media personalities and musicians.
The judges include local renowned musicians Dick Lee, Jeremy Monteiro and Sydney Tan, as well as Mr Bernard Lim, MediaCorp’s Head of Family Segment and Customer Group, Ms Zakiah Halim, Senior Vice-President of MediaCorp Radio’s Malay Broadcast Division, and Ms Georgina Chang, Vice-President of English Programming (Music) at MediaCorp Radio.
Chin Sin’s song emerged as one of the three finalists and was placed in a face-off against two other local original compositions – one titled ‘Being Here’ by duo Dennis Ng and Jared Chan and the other being ‘We Are Stars’ by graphic designer Andrew Lee – where they have to compete to win the most votes from the public.
Public votes have made up for 60 percent of the result and the remaining 40 percent had come from the judges. It is estimated that more than 65,000 votes were cast in total.
On The 5 Show yesterday evening, Chin Sin was announced the winner and brought home with him a trophy and the prize money of S$10,000.
When asked on his initial reaction upon learning of his victory, the 40-year-old chef and aspiring songwriter admitted that the thought has yet to sink in, but chirped nonetheless, “I have so many feelings for it, but I am very very happy, primarily very happy.”
As the competition was organised to join in the efforts of commemorating Singapore’s 50th birthday, Chin Sin feels deeply honoured to have done his part with his song for the nation.
Would the title of an award-winning composer give him added pressure when he composes more songs in the future?
“Actually, I’m still trying to digest this whole thing. Not so much stress but this is definitely motivating. Many times, song-writing is very subjective and very often, it is hard to know if you are doing well or not,” he shared.
“(It’s) not that you don’t do well when you don’t compete, but this (the competition) is really a very good form of motivation and strong encouragement for someone who writes songs to continue to do it,” he added.
(Click on for the rest of his interview on the next page)
From food for the belly to food for the soul
Chin Sin may be a cordon bleu chef and the co-owner of two restaurants in Singapore, but he also shares a deep passion for singing and has even sung as a baritone at a local concert earlier on.
How, then, does he seek a balance in his disparate interests?
Chin Sin quipped, “Well, you really do a bit of both! You do as much as you can for both. When you really like something, it is not difficult to motivate yourself.”
The 40-year-old, who has learnt music since a young age, also shared that he has had his fair share of rebelliousness during his younger days when he dreaded the thought of the repetitive piano practices he was made to go through. However, as he matured, Chin Sin got reacquainted with his musical interest again and now enjoys music making.
While cooking and song-writing both requires a mastery of skills and a good concoction of creativity and inquisitiveness, Chin Sin does not see many similarities between the two.
“Both are processes of creation but cooking is more ephemeral, once the meal is over, it really just stays in the memory of the diners, but songs can evolve through different productions and singers,” he explained.
Chin Sin added that though he will continue to pursue his love for music, he does not plan to become a full-fledged singer or song-writer. With regards to his S$10,000 prize money, the 40-year-old still does not have any plans on how he would spend it at the moment.
“I really don’t know! And throughout the whole process of the competition, I’ve been trying my best not to think about it,” he said.
Desire to unite Singaporeans with his song
Revealing that he has specially composed the song for this competition, Chin Sin shared that he had written the song as a personal response to the growth of Singapore over its 50 years of independence.
“I really asked myself how I felt about the 50th birthday and the overwhelming feeling I had was optimism. We have done and achieve so much in 50 years but we can really achieve more because of the opportunities we now have,” he replied passionately.
In fact, Chin Sin’s song was such a well-kept secret that nobody got to hear it prior to the release of The Final 1 winner Farisha Ishak’s rendition of his song. The 40-year-old shared that he was very touched and in awe that it had turned out so well with Farisha’s execution, and is grateful that the public has been receptive to it.
Bernard Lim, Head of Family Segment and Customer Group at MediaCorp and a judge of the competition also sang praises of Chin Sin’s song. “It has a very sing-along chorus. It has got a very nice melody. The kids who were featured in the video actually made the song a lot nicer as well. Amongst the judges, we kind of had the feeling this song would be the eventual winner.”
“As a gift to the nation, this is MediaCorp’s effort to celebrate SG50 with Singaporeans all over,” he added.
Dr. Edmund Lum, CEO and director of Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS), also hoped that this would be a song through which Singaporeans can bond and join their voices to sing for the nation.
“I hope that all Singaporeans can rally together to learn to sing this winning song with one heart and one soul,” he said.
In weeks to come, MediaCorp would also be releasing a music video for These Are The Days that will star the winners of MediaCorp’s talent shows: Farisha Ishak, Channel 5’s The Final 1, Shabir, Vasantham’s Vasantham Star and Alfred Sim, Channel U’s Project SuperStar.
Other performing artistes include Tay Ke Wei, regional singer-song writer; MediaCorp artiste Julie Tan; Sufie Rashid, first runner-up of SG Mania, Suria’s reality singing competition; award-winning local musicians, the Lorong Boys and the talented Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir.
The music video will also be broadcast across MediaCorp’s television channels, Out-Of-Home screens and over-the-top service Toggle as well as its radio stations, in the lead-up to National Day 2015.
As an extension to the song writing competition, MediaCorp is organising The Gift of Song Fans’ Video Contest to let Singaporeans and Permanent Residents create “Fan-Made” video based on the winning song, These Are The Days.
Submission of the music videos opens from 15 April to 4 May and the selected music videos will be put to a vote by the public from 7 to 24 May. The three most popular works would each win $500 cash and the winners would stand a chance to be featured in the official grand-scale music video.
For more information, please visit toggle.sg/thegiftofsong.