Alfred Sim goes from wedding singer to Project Superstar champ

Alfred Sim took up gigs as a wedding singer when he failed to make it to the final rounds of Project Superstar in 2005 and 2006. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP CHANNEL U
Alfred Sim took up gigs as a wedding singer when he failed to make it to the final rounds of Project Superstar in 2005 and 2006. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP CHANNEL U

Project Superstar winner Alfred Sim failed to make the cut in the contest in 2005 and 2006

Yet another guy has been crowned the winner in local reality TV singing contest Project Superstar.

Athletics coach Alfred Sim, 33, beat 18-year-old polytechnic student Abigail Yeo on Sunday in the third instalment of the competition. His win continues a losing streak for the women.

Kelvin Tan Weilian and Daren Tan were the first two winners, in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

However, Sim does not think that being a guy gave him an edge over his female competitors. Nor did it automatically translate to more votes.

"I think it's just coincidental," says Sim about the winning streak of the male contestants. "Female singers are equally good. The public knows what's good. They are smart and will make the right choice. I don't think gender will affect their choice."

Yeo agrees: "The producers have stated that they are looking for good singers and not idols. We are judged based on our stage performances and singing strengths."

Sim, the oldest contestant on the show, walked away with $15,000 in cash and a one-year MediaCorp contract. Yeo, the youngest competitor, snagged $10,000.

They edged out 10 other finalists to make it to Sunday night's grand final, which attracted a viewership of 591,000. Project Superstar had returned to Channel U after eight years. The contest saw a close fight between the two aspiring stars in the finals.

Sim had 52 per cent of the public votes via the Toggle Now app in the final round. MediaCorp revealed that he had garnered 56 per cent of the judges' votes. The final results were determined by the public vote (25 per cent) and the five judges (75 per cent), who included composer-producer Roy Loi and Taiwanese veteran singer Tiger Huang.

Deep-voiced crooner Huang bestowed high praise on Sim. Addressing him during the show, she said: "Your voice has this pure emotive quality to it, you're a real man. I can feel the message you are trying to convey in your singing."

It has been a long road for Sim, who did not even make the cut for the final rounds of Project Superstar in 2005 and 2006.

But he never gave up pursuing his dream of singing and it turned out that the third time's the charm.

"If you like what you're doing, if you have a dream, continue chasing it," says Sim, who started taking up gigs as a wedding singer in 2007.

He also started singing regularly at Mandopop live house Switch by Timbre three years ago. This was where he honed his stage presence and interaction with the audience.

"People attending weddings are usually concentrating on their food. It was at Switch where I learnt to talk in between songs and interact with a crowd."

The experience came in handy when he took part in Project Superstar again.

"It was definitely easier this time. I knew how to better control my facial expression and have a poker face even though I'm nervous," says Sim, who will perform at a showcase at Switch tonight.

Giving him strength for his final Superstar performance were his supporters in the audience - his family and friends as well as a special someone whom the camera zoomed in on repeatedly, local singer Tay Kewei.

Sim coyly admits: "She's my girlfriend. We knew each other through a group of friends and we've been dating for a few years."

He reveals that he sings with her at wedding gigs, though those occasions are rare. "We seldom sing together at weddings. She's super expensive, too expensive," he says with a laugh.

Tay, 31, has three albums under her belt, including Mandopop offering Turn Back & Smile, released last month. She previously released two albums comprising mostly English covers.

While Tay can charge a premium as a bona fide recording artist, one can be sure she will give her boyfriend a discount if he ropes her in for his album.

With the $15,000 prize money, Sim is toying with the idea of releasing an album, which could possibly contain a duet with his girlfriend.

"Abigail released an EP before she took part in this competition. I'll consider releasing an album as it serves as a portfolio for a singer, it's easier to go around to ask to perform in shows," says Sim, who sang the theme song of MediaCorp's 2013 period drama, The Journey: A Voyage.

As for Yeo, the cat lover plans to donate a portion of her winnings to a cat welfare society or an organisation that helps stray cats.

While the Temasek Polytechinic student may not have bagged the grand prize, she can gun for another award at the upcoming Singapore Hit Awards, organised by local radio station Yes93.3. Her debut EP, If I'm Not That Kind Of Girl, has been nominated for Most Popular New Artist.

Yeo, a second-year student pursuing a diploma in veterinary technology, says: "I plan to let things happen naturally. That award is dependent on the public vote. If I win, I would be grateful for everyone's support. But if I don't win, I'll continue to work hard and hope I win the next time."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Catch the repeat telecast of Project Superstar 2014 Grand Final on Sunday on Channel U at 11.30am.