HK pop star G.E.M.: If I can't be honest, why should people listen to my music?

G.E.M. will be staging a two-night concert here next month.
G.E.M. will be staging a two-night concert here next month.PHOTO: UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT

Shanghai-born singer G.E.M. does not think it is premature for her to release a documentary about her life when she is just 25 years old.

She has no lack of material for the film - in the last three years alone, she has gone from selling out concerts regionally after competing on China reality contest show I Am A Singer (2014) to becoming one of the most hated celebrities on the Internet.

"I feel like I've been preparing for this documentary from the moment I was born. My parents would film me as a record of my growing years," she says with a laugh over the phone from Hong Kong, where she is based.

"The documentary is not to show that I have arrived in my career. Rather, I want to inspire others to pursue their dreams like how I did."

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Gloria Tang is her real name; her performing name stands for "get everybody moving". She hails from a family of musicians and moved to Hong Kong at age four. Not much is known about her father, but her mother is said to be a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

The film G-Force, which was released in China in January, showcases her music journey from a piano-tinkling tot to best-selling artist in Hong Kong and subsequently a hot favourite to win a popular televised singing contest in China.

It also chronicles the lows of her nine-year singing career.

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Tang says: "It is not about me being brave. If a singer-songwriter can't be honest and share her experience, where is the value of her music? Why should people listen to my music?"

In a trailer for the documentary, she is seen addressing the backlash surrounding the follow-up season of I Am A Singer (2015). She even wondered if she deserved all the hostility directed at her.

Netizens lambasted her for being an ingrate after the show's director Hong Tao complained online that G.E.M. refused to compromise and changed her song selection. This reportedly led to her replacement in the show by Taiwanese singer A-Lin.

She says: "I was really upset, to the point where I was about to lose it. I let myself wallow in my pain. Telling yourself to snap out of it would only add more pressure. Bad feelings are like passing rain."

Those stressful times have made her realise that external factors are out of her control and that she can control only her own mindset.

Inspired, she centred her ongoing concert tour around the theme Queen of Hearts. She will be staging a two-night concert in Singapore next month. She says: "Challenges have been arising over the past nine years. Instead of changing the environment, I decided to be the queen of my own heart."

Who is the king of her heart? She has been photographed on dates with a hunk in Japan, but she is coy about her love life when asked about it.

"I'm not married, I won't reveal it till the day I tie the knot. When it comes to music, I can talk about anything. But I hope to keep my love life as low-key as possible."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'From selling out concerts to becoming a hated celebrity'. Print Edition | Subscribe