She wants to sing with Taylor Swift

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) Singapore-born teen Natalie Ong has been in the news with her singing on The X Factor Australia. Here are three local children who have been winning talent competitions and performing in high-profile shows


She wants to sing with Taylor Swift

She has big dreams and wants to sing with Taylor Swift.

Quite an ambition perhaps, but at 11, Melissa Wei-En Hecker has already performed at local singer-songwriter Dick Lee’s 60th birthday concert.

Says the Primary Five student: “That was one of my most memorable events. First, because I managed to meet Dick Lee in person.

“Also, the venue was the Star Theatre, which sits 5,000 people. It was huge and quite intimidating.”

The biggest crowd she had previously performed for was 1,500 people, and the theatre’s larger capacity initially frightened her.

 

“Usually I feel nervous before I start singing, but once I start singing, the nervousness just washes away. I just need to take a few deep breaths before I start,” she says.

Melissa took two months to prepare for the performance on Aug 19 but says that sometimes she requires only a few weeks to prepare herself.

“I can learn songs quite quickly so it’s not usually a problem,” she says.

Last year, she was the grand champion at Popstar of the Year — an annual solo singing competition organised by Precious Talents International and Kids Performing Academy of the Arts

From there she went on to place second at American Protégé in both the Classical and Musical Theatre categories. American Protégé is a vocal contest in the US which involves participants from all around the world, who are required to send in videos of themselves singing.

She also has had plenty of performances in musicals and concerts within the last four years.

She was ‘little Emily’ in Emily The Musical, an adaptation of the book Emily Of Emerald Hill.

She also starred in Turandot And Pagliacci, both staged by Singapore Lyric Opera as part of its children’s ensemble.

“I would love to sing with Taylor Swift, or to be on Broadway as Glinda in Wicked, or on West End as Eponine in Les Miserables,” she says.

Her dreams of a singing career started with the TV show Hannah Montana.

“My first inspiration was Miley Cyrus when I watched her on Hannah Montana. Her song, The Climb, is still a favourite.

“It reminds me that the journey to get to where I want to may be difficult, but I must persevere,” Melissa says.

Her parents first heard her sing The Climb when she was just seven years old.

Her mother, Ms Bridget Yeo-Hecker, says: “She would usually sing along to Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift in the car.

“But it was at her kindergarten graduation concert, where the graduating classes put up a musical, that we realised that her voice was special.

“She was comfortable and really enjoyed being on stage.”

Ms Kuo Po, 54, the artistic director of Kids Performing, says of Melissa:“For 11, she’s very focused and she works very hard because she always prepares her songs before class and has them memorised way before.

“Her vocal quality is very polished, velvety and pleasant to the ears. ”


Her voice is her gift


Lauren Teo, 13. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

She started singing classes only when she was eight, but by the time she was nine, she had already performed her own solo recital at the Esplanade.

“I was very happy of course but I also could not fully understand the significance and magnitude of the event, as I was only in Primary Four then,” says Lauren Yeo, now 13.

The young soprano soloist has also performed in the comic operetta Orpheus In The Underworld by The New Opera at Victoria Theatre and at other high-profile venues and events.

She was recently a part of the Community Chest Care and Share Thank You show this year.

There, she sang You Raise Me Up and was accompanied by nine children with special needs and their two instructors.

“They danced while I sang and I am so grateful I got to share the limelight with my friends with special needs at the show. It was so meaningful.

“They have struggles and challenges but they are always cheerful,” she says.

Lauren started out singing at church events and in homes for the elderly when she was seven, and performed at bigger venues by the time she was nine.

She has won several awards including first place in the American Protégé international voice competition in 2012, in which participants from all over the world submitted videos of themselves singing.

“I usually like singing classical crossovers. I enjoy the melody and emotions of the song, and they are timeless and evergreen,” says Lauren.

The Methodist Girls’ School student is also keen on science.

She says: “My dream is to become a physicist as well as a musician who can use music to reach out to others.”

Her mother, Mrs Su Yeo, has always been by Lauren’s side when she is performing to encourage and support her daughter through it all.

“I am very happy that she gets such opportunities, though she has to juggle a lot and it’s not easy for her,” says Mrs Yeo.

“But I hope she will always be grateful for how fortunate she is and the opportunities that she has, and use her gift for singing to bless others.”


Big Broadway dreams for this little girl


Kaitlyn Ong, 10, with her parents. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

She started singing formally only late last year.

But she has already been crowned Popstar of the Year 2016 at the annual solo singing competition organised by Precious Talents International & Kids Performing Academy of the Arts.

Kaitlyn Ong, 10, has a wide repertoire of performances ranging from dancing to acting and even emceeing.

Kaitlyn began dancing when she was four, but has been singing for as long as she can remember.

“I have always loved singing, I think I started singing when I was two years old,” she says.

Her parents recognised her talent for singing when she was nine.

“I noticed that she would regularly sing in the bathroom, so much so that her brothers would ask her to keep her volume down,” says her father, Mr Bernard Ong.

Kaitlyn enrolled in singing classes late last year, and won first runner-up in a singing and dance competition just months after.

As she is both a dancer and singer, it can sometimes take Kaitlyn months to prepare for a performance.

She says: “If there is a dance element to the performance, it tends to take longer as I need to perfect my technique, choreography and expression.”

Kaitlyn looks to her family for inspiration.

“My parents always encourage me to do my best in everything and have fun at the same time,” she says.

Her dream? To sing with Lea Salonga or perform on Broadway or the West End in a sell out musical.

“Singing is my favourite activity. Through it, I get to meet and work with new friends to create something beautiful using our voices,” says Kaitlyn.

“I feel very happy whenever I sing and it’s a way for me to tell stories.”