Javanese looks on getai stage

Indonesian singer Xie Weina, adopted by an Indonesian- Chinese woman, is unsure of her race.
Indonesian singer Xie Weina, adopted by an Indonesian- Chinese woman, is unsure of her race. PHOTO: COURTESY OF XIE WEINA

Xie Weina says she is Chinese. But when pressed on the question of her ethnicity, she becomes unsure.

The Singapore-based Indonesian singer was abandoned at birth and has no clues about her lineage.

"So I could be part Javanese and part Chinese, right? Anything is possible, I guess," the 21-year-old muses in Mandarin.

Raised by her adoptive single Indonesian-Chinese mother, she certainly identifies herself as Chinese, regardless of her predominantly Javanese looks.

"My adoptive mother and my elder brother came to the hospital together looking to adopt a girl. They picked me because they said I was so chubby and cute. It was like they went to a shop to pick out a pet," she says with a laugh.

My adoptive mother and my elder brother came to the hospital looking to adopt a girl. They picked me because they said I was so chubby and cute. It was like they went to a shop to pick out a pet.

GETAI SINGER XIE WEINA

Her brother is adopted and is an ethnic Chinese.

She has been making waves in the local getai scene in recent years, standing out as one of the rare non-Chinese performers.

"I guess that could be my edge, but I hope that audiences ultimately like me for my voice," says Xie, who has gained a reputation for her strong powerhouse vocals.

Fluent in Mandarin, Teochew, and Hokkien, the spunky singer was first thrust into the limelight in 2010, when she emerged first runner-up in the Chinese TV singing contest Global Hokkien Singing Competition.

Shortly after the show, she moved from her native Indonesia to Singapore to enrol in an O-level preparatory course and it was not long before a local getai organiser hired her.

"He saw me perform in the competition and asked me to do some getai shows. That's how I got into the business," she explains.

Her star skyrocketed recently when she made it to the finals of Channel 8's TV singing contest Getai Challenge, which pitted established and popular getai singers such as Marcus Chin and Hao Hao against one another.

The full-time singer says: "Whether people think I'm Chinese or Indonesian, I just hope that people remember me as Xie Weina the singer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 04, 2015, with the headline 'Javanese looks on getai stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe