Rookie singer Stella Seah to perform on same stage as idol Ayumi Hamasaki

Stella Seah Hui Xian, who just released her first Mandopop EP, Wings Of Dreams, will be singing at the a-nation festival on Saturday. -- PHOTO: OCEAN BUTTERFLIES
Stella Seah Hui Xian, who just released her first Mandopop EP, Wings Of Dreams, will be singing at the a-nation festival on Saturday. -- PHOTO: OCEAN BUTTERFLIES

She bought Ayumi Hamasaki's first album when she was in Primary 1. Fifteen years later, rookie singer Stella Seah Hui Xian, 22, is performing on the same stage as her idol at the a-nation Japanese music festival on Saturday.

"I've bought almost all of her albums. I'm really excited to meet my idol, maybe I can get her to autograph my CDs. I hope to pass her my EP too," says Seah, who won StarHub TV's reality TV singing contest Sunsilk Academy Fantasia in 2012 and last week released her first Mandopop EP, Wings Of Dreams.

Singing was once just a hobby. While studying interior design at Singapore Polytechnic, she took part in a school singing contest in 2010.

"I was in my second year when my teacher recommended that I represent the interior design faculty in the contest. I won. It was only then that I realised I could not do without the stage," she recalls.

"A week later, I made up my mind to study music at Lasalle College of the Arts. I told my parents about my decision to make the switch only after I passed the audition," says Seah, who has a 54-year-old mother working in the banking sector and a 58-year-old stay-at-home dad.

Her parents were shocked at her sudden decision, but gave their blessings as long as she would bear the consequences of her decision.

Winning Sunsilk Academy Fantasia earned her a two-year singing contract with local label Ocean Butterflies. But that did not give her music career an instant boost as she was busy with her music diploma studies at Lasalle. She graduated from the course just two weeks ago.

Seah says: "I didn't make any TV appearances in the past two years. I took up regular singing gigs at pubs and also sang at weddings. I've learnt a lot and built up my repertoire. I wanted to practise to make sure my singing doesn't get rusty."

It does not help that the contest she won has not returned since the first season.

When Life! asked StarHub if a second season is in the works, the company's head of Media Business Unit, Ms Lee Soo Hui, would say only that local productions will continue to be a key focus and that they are "constantly on the lookout for opportunities to uncover and nurture new talents".

Meanwhile, Seah hopes to branch out overseas through promotions and even taking part in reality singing shows in China.

While venturing overseas, who knows, she might even run into another of her music idols.

She gushes about Taiwanese megastar Jay Chou twice during the interview when asked her preference when it comes to music styles and guys.

Seah says with a giggle: "I have harboured a crush on Jay Chou since I was in Primary 4. Previously, I had to watch his music videos before I could go to sleep. My friends used to joke that I had a chance with Jay Chou since I'm about the same age as his girlfriend."

Wings Of Dreams is out in stores.