Actress-singer Bonnie Loo loves the applause of audiences at live performances

Former Campus Superstar winner Bonnie Loo has joined more than 300 singing competitions

Singer Bonnie Loo has a habit of crying after she sings on stage.

She recalls how nerves got to her 10-year-old self and she bawled her eyes out after singing onstage for the first time.

Earlier this year, she cried after auditioning to represent Singapore in the popular Chinese television singing contest The Voice Of China. But it was not because she failed to make the cut. "It'd been a while since I sung onstage. I cried because I felt glad to have the opportunity to sing onstage," Loo, 21, says in Mandarin.

After winning TV singing contest Campus Superstar in 2013 and recording her self-titled debut album, which topped music retailer CD-Rama's regional releases chart when it was released last year, she had done more acting than singing.

She starred in Channel 8 dramas Tiger Mum (2015) and C.L.I.F. 3 (2014). This month, she will be seen in new shows, the long-form drama Life - Fear Not and the music- themed drama Crescendo.

Her role in Crescendo - that of a teen who loves singing - is close to her heart. Campus Superstar, a singing competition for students, was just one of more than 300 contests she had taken part in since the age of 10. Through the years, she has won more than 100 trophies.

"Standing in front of an audience to perform is when I feel the most confident. I do get nervous, but I savour the feeling of performing and the audience's applause," says the Malaysia-born Singapore permanent resident, who is the older of two children born to a housewife mother, 45, and construction contractor father, 49.

Crescendo - which revolves around the xinyao, or Singapore Chinese folk-pop music, scene that emerged in the 1980s - will feature snippets of a ticketed full concert, in which Loo will perform along with xinyao stalwarts such as Liang Wern Fook and Lee Wai Shiong.

1 Was it your childhood ambition to be a singer?

Yes. My parents said that as a child, I loved to sing while walking around with a radio. I remember how envious I felt when I watched a primary schoolmate perform onstage. I went home and asked my mother to let me learn singing. I've been taking vocal lessons since I was 10.

2 You've taken part in more than 300 singing competitions. What drives you to join contests?

I relish the challenge of a competition. Of course, it's nerve-racking and hard to accept it when you lose. I take it as a learning experience.

My purpose is to get pointers from the judges and improve my singing. Competitions are also a great place to meet friends with common interests.

3 How do you prepare for a contest?

I would by lying if I say I don't get nervous. But the best way to overcome nerves is to be fully prepared. You have to practise real hard and memorise the lyrics well.

Before I perform, I have some quiet time to calm myself. This is to help me better focus onstage. Also, I keep warm by preparing heat packs and hot water in a thermos flask. If I feel cold, it affects my vocal cords.

4 Whose music do you enjoying listening to?

I love listening to live music at concerts. I've attended the concerts of Taiwanese singers Show Lo and A-mei and Singapore singer Kit Chan.

Recently, I watched Taiwanese rocker Jam Hsiao's concert here. It's the fourth time I've seen him perform.

I hope to be able to perform with him one day. I can identify with him because he also got his big break in a reality singing contest.

5 You do a lot of acting now. Do you prefer acting or singing?

My first love is singing. I'm most confident about my singing. I'd like to explore what I can do with acting too. Through acting, I get to try out different characters.

6 You played a bratty teen in Tiger Mum and will portray another bratty teen in Life - Fear Not. Were you a rebellious kid in real life?

In reality, I've never skipped school. I'm the opposite of my character in dramas.

7 You joined show business at a young age. Do you plan to continue your studies?

After I completed my secondary school studies, I joined show business.

My parents are supportive and feel that I should pursue my passion. There's no point in me doing something I don't enjoy.

I'll give myself five years to see what I can achieve in show business. If it doesn't work out, I may further my studies overseas.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

As a versatile singer who can perform all kinds of songs.


Life - Fear Not premieres on Channel 8 on Oct 19 at 7.30pm.

Crescendo premieres on Channel 8 on Oct 23 at 9pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'Game for a contest'. Print Edition | Subscribe