10-hour showcase of local music

Artists performing on Saturday include Art Fazil (above) and Ling Kai.
Artists performing on Saturday include Art Fazil (above) and Ling Kai.PHOTO: THE RICE COMPANY
Artists performing on Saturday include Art Fazil and Ling Kai (above).
Artists performing on Saturday include Art Fazil and Ling Kai (above).PHOTO: THE RICE COMPANY

Veteran and budding musicians to come together for a concert, playing genres ranging from pop and folk to indie and jazz

The past, present and future of Singapore music take centre stage at Next, a 10-hour concert set to take place at Max Atria @ Singapore Expo on Saturday.

The inaugural edition of what is set to be an annual affair, the show features more than 20 home-grown artists playing genres ranging from pop and folk to indie and jazz.

Among the artists performing are veterans such as Matthew & The Mandarins, who have been making music since the 1970s; multilingual singer-songwriters such as Art Fazil and Ling Kai; jazz singer Melissa Tham; as well as new names such as pop artist Becka, who released her debut EP last year.

Other acts taking the stage include Flame Of The Forest, made up of Chinese brothers who play Indian classical and folk music; singer-songwriter Lew, who won the National Arts Council's Noise music award; and singer-actor Nat Ho.

Art, who first came into prominence in the early 1990s and whose music is popular in Singapore and Malaysia, says his set at Next will be different from his regular shows.

Besides some of his best-known hits such as Sometimes When I Feel Blue and Full Moon Over Marina Bay, he will also perform, for the first time, songs that he recorded in London in the 1990s, but were never released.

The 50-year-old says: "Next gives the Singapore public an opportunity to sample the vast amount of home-grown works produced by our artists. Hopefully, the public and the movers and shakers of the arts and entertainment industry in Singapore can see that we have many quality talents around. Let's hope they pay attention and start to create more openings and opportunities for our talents here."

Ling Kai, 30, who has been spending the last few years making a name for herself in China, says: "I am very happy and honoured to be part of Next Festival, and I am really excited to showcase my new songs from my upcoming EP at the show."

The concert is the latest initiative to arise from the Sing50 Fund, which serves to promote and preserve Singapore's music heritage.

The fund, which originates from the Sing50 mega concert held to mark the SG50 celebrations in 2015, raises money from private individuals and companies and also provides resources such as musical instruments, instructors and learning materials to schools and students. Sing50 was organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times.

The Next concert is a way for local acts to "engage and establish new audiences", says Mr Tan Tee Tong, director of arts and creative, non-profit organisation The Rice Company, which manages the Sing50 fund and is a co-producer of the concert. "We envision Next to be a springboard for artists towards the next stage of success in their music careers."

The concert is also co-produced by entertainment company Music & Movement and show promoters Unusual.

Having a mix of veteran and budding artists is also a way for them to interact, work closely and learn from one another, says Mr Lim Sek, a board member of the Sing50 Fund and Music & Movement founder.

He says: "The presence of more established artists in the line-up serves as an inspiration to the next generation. We would like to catalyse more collaborations between these established artistes and emerging ones so as to provide mentorship and support and collectively boost the profile of trending artists to sustain the public's interest in them."

For pop-rock band Second Sunrise, which formed in 2014 and will perform with their mentors Jack & Rai, initiatives such as Next are important for budding local music acts like themselves.

Band leader Louis Lee says: "We can still recall how we started out as a humble band and we went through countless challenges along the way while trying to create our music and find our voice.

"We believe that initiatives like Next will continue to provide a positive evolution in the local music scene. It gives local musicians a massive platform to showcase their music and create awareness for the next generation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2017, with the headline '10-hour showcase of local music'. Print Edition | Subscribe