All eyes on China Super Vocal

Bound for Shanghai: (from far left) Liu Jia Hui, Olinda Cho and Ng Chee Yang.
Bound for Shanghai: (from far left) Liu Jia Hui, Olinda Cho and Ng Chee Yang.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Freelance graphic designer is among three picked to represent Singapore in the popular singing contest in China

Singapore Idol's Olinda Cho, Campus Superstar champion Ng Chee Yang and freelance graphic designer Liu Jia Hui are going to Shanghai to compete in the popular television contest China Super Vocal.

They were announced as the winners of the Singapore leg of the contest after a three-hour sing-off featuring 12 finalists last Saturday night at Hard Rock Hotel's The Coliseum.

Cho, 35, who runs a talent agency Nu Management with model Sheila Sim, said it would be a "different feeling to sing for your country".

When asked whom among China Super Vocal's judges she would like as her mentor, she said she was torn between Chinese singers Wang Feng and Na Ying, both of whom will judge this season's competition alongside Taiwanese singer-songwriters Jay Chou and Harlem Yu.

Ng, who won televised student singing competition Campus Superstar in 2006, said he was "very grateful for this opportunity". The professional singer-actor is currently performing with a cappella group Vocalosity in the United States, where he is based.

The 26-year-old added: "I'm just going to do what I do best and it's not about winning. It's about saying, 'Hey, I'm back', because I've been away for so long."

Liu, 22, was giddy with happiness after making it to the top three. She said: "I'm very, very stunned. I really hope to go far in the competition."

After each of the 12 finalists performed a song of their choice, the list was whittled down to five, which included Bei Jia Er, a 20-year-old music student at LaSalle College of the Arts, and Zhang Zhi Ling, 25, a piano and vocal teacher.

The judges - radio deejay Eeva Chang Mei Hsiang, producer- songwriter Billy Koh and singer- songwriters Paul Lee Wei Song and Dick Lee - then gave each of the final five a second song to perform.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Lee Wei Song said the songs were chosen to challenge the contestants. He added: "Some of the songs may sound simple, but if one doesn't sing it from the heart, the song will just die. We took note of the contestants' overall presentation and emotional connection to the song."

Cho delivered a powerful first performance of Wanderer's Love Song by Wu Bai & China Blue, which she followed with an emotionally charged rendition of I Waited Till The Flowers Wilted Away by Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung in the second round.

Ng performed Remember by Taiwanese singer A-mei, hitting the high notes effortlessly. Subsequently, he impressed the judges with the JJ Lin ballad If Only.

Liu's rendition of Exaggerated by Terry Lin took everyone by surprise - her sweet image did not prepare many in the audience for her deep voice and fiery performance. Her second performance, Last Train by Taiwanese pop star Hsiao Huang-chi, was just as riveting.

Koh said the three winners were "a unanimous decision" and that he was particularly impressed by Cho's showmanship.

Chang was struck by Liu's voice, saying she "has not heard a voice like hers in a long time". Similarly, Dick Lee said he will "never forget" Liu's performance.

Lee Wei Song had a piece of advice for Cho, Ng and Liu when they compete in China: "They must know why people like their voice. There are a lot of people who can sing, but personality is important. They must be themselves."

This year's edition of China Super Vocal is scheduled to air in China in July, the same month the three contestants are to fly to Shanghai.

Originally titled The Voice Of China, the show has been rebranded China Super Vocal due to a legal dispute over the show's copyright, which is held by the Dutch producers of The Voice Of Holland. The show's Chinese title Zhong Guo Hao Shen Ying remains.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2016, with the headline 'All eyes on China Super Vocal'. Print Edition | Subscribe