SINGAPORE - Singaporean crooner Nathan Hartono made it through to singing competition Sing! China's final last Friday (Sept 30), garnering the highest score among the six semi-finalists who qualified.
Hartono, 25, is the only member from pop superstar Jay Chou's team to make it to the final this Friday (Oct 7).
Before shining in China, Hartono honed his singing chops at ChildAid concerts organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times.
In an interview with The Straits Times in 2014, Hartono said: "I've always had a soft spot for this concert. The 2005 show was the first major concert I had ever done."
He also performed in the 2006 edition, which was held at the University Cultural Centre of the National University of Singapore. He told The Business Times last year about his fond recollection of his 2006 experience.
"It was surreal and one of my first big shows in a proper theatre with a capacity crowd - I was new then and used to perform only in community centres - and then suddenly I'm in this amazing venue with all these great performers," he said.
Hartono returned in 2014 for a milestone All-Stars Edition of the concert, together with other ChildAid alumni such as piano prodigy Abigail Sin.
Besides giving young talents the chance to perform, ChildAid also supports a good cause. It raises money for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.
After his ChildAid experiences, Hartono went on to cut three albums and multiple singles, perform sold-out solo shows and feature regularly at mega national events like the National Day Parade and the Youth Olympics.
Hartono, who studied music production and engineering at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, made his acting debut in HBO Asia television series Halfworlds in 2015.
Hartono is of Indonesian-Chinese parentage and studied at Nanyang Primary School and Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road). His parents - resort consultant Thomas Hartono and Madam Jocelyn Tjioe, a senior vice-president of TungLok Group - have been seen supporting him at the Sing! China shows.
Currently in the running to win China's premier singing contest, Hartono remains grounded, telling The Straits Times that his chances of winning the competition are "not very high".
"I honestly didn't think I was going to get this far and it blows my mind," he said. "That said, I'm still going to go up there and do all I can to kill it."
He added: "If I win, I will rent a fleet of Milo vans and treat everybody to Milo peng (iced Milo)."
Nestle, which carries the Milo beverage, responded on Saturday on its Facebook page: "Nathan, win or lose, Milo will support you all the way! No need to rent, also can. Just tell us where, we bring the van."
Nestle also asked Singaporeans to send in their suggestions on where the vans should be placed.
In response to queries, Nestle told The Straits Times on Monday (Oct 3) that regardless of the results this Friday, it will proceed with the mobilisation of its Milo vans.
"Milo Singapore applauds Nathan Hartono for his talent, drive and dedication in pursuing his craft. We understand that great achievements, such as Nathan’s, do not happen overnight. A lot of hard work, sweat and tenacity is needed.
"Our support with the Milo vans is a show of our appreciation for the efforts of all Singaporeans, including homegrown talents like Nathan.
"Many Singaporeans have contributed in their own unique way to build and develop our nation. This is a special Milo 'peng' tribute to them," said Mr Chow Phee Chat, marketing communications and corporate affairs director of Nestle Singapore.
Meanwhile, fans are eagerly awaiting what tunes Milo and Hartono have in store.
The Sing! China final will take place this Friday at 8pm, and will be screened on the competition's official Youtube channel.