Singer Kelly Poon: On the rocky road of show business

To boost album sales, Kelly Poon's EP comes with an A3-sized pictorial book of her posing in a skintight bodysuit. -- PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC SINGAPORE
To boost album sales, Kelly Poon's EP comes with an A3-sized pictorial book of her posing in a skintight bodysuit. -- PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC SINGAPORE
To boost album sales, Kelly Poon's (left) EP comes with an A3-sized pictorial book of her posing in a skintight bodysuit (above).
To boost album sales, Kelly Poon's (left) EP comes with an A3-sized pictorial book of her posing in a skintight bodysuit (above).PHOTOS: WARNER MUSIC SINGAPORE

Singer Kelly Poon is promoting a new EP and not giving up on her lacklustre career

Local songbird Kelly Poon, 31, has struggled to make a name for herself in show business for almost a decade.

The affable singer's less than stellar results have not gone unnoticed by the media and prompted a Taiwanese reporter to ask her point blank: "Are you too stubborn? Why are you still in this line?"

But that has not dampened her spirits or weakened her resolve to succeed.

The chirpy singer tells Life! about her exchange with the Taiwanese journalist in an interview here.

She reiterates her motivation for pursuing a singing career and says: "I told him that I'm just being determined, I know what I want and I fight for what I want."

She was in town last week to promote her new five-track EP, Miss Kelly, her first offering in three years since her last mini-album, Super Kelly (2011). The EP topped the local version of Apple's iTunes digital music charts for two weeks after its release on Aug 5.

The alumna of local singing reality TV contest Project Superstar (2005) says with a hint of resignation: "My path has not been as smooth compared to other singers. It's been a rocky journey filled with ups and downs."

She signed on with local talent agency Mode Entertainment in January this year, after her contract with Rock Records ended in 2011.

"After my contract ended, I packed my bags as I wanted to return to Singapore. I was based in Taiwan then and was 28 years old. I wanted to reflect on how I should approach the next chapter of my life," she says.

During her hiatus from the music scene, she challenged herself by hosting outdoor segments on the Singapore edition of Lady First - a long-running hit Taiwanese beauty and fashion infotainment programme - last year.

Does she ever wonder about the stumbling block that keeps her from being propelled to the astronomical heights of success of fellow singers Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin?

The candid Poon answers in a heartbeat: "I think about it all the time. It's only human nature. I take it as positive energy to motivate me.

"Of course, I hope to be a big star like Stefanie Sun. But everyone has his own path in life and for me, it's a little tougher than others. However, every step of the way has been a learning lesson for me."

Her lacklustre showing, she pinpoints, boils down to a combination of factors that are out of her control.

"You need luck, good connections and good music. There are plenty of people who can sing well and plenty who are pretty. It's about how you can stand out from the crowd and make an impression," she says in a mix of English and Mandarin.

A prime example of success, she says, is Mandopop queen Sun, who got the attention of the Taiwanese media when a gun-toting man ruined the autograph session of her first album in 2000.

Poon says: "The gun incident got her noticed and she was featured all over the newspapers. When people notice you, they will check out your music. Sun makes great music too."

The tenacious singer is not giving up her dream job and her latest stab at boosting album sales makes use of her pretty looks and leggy assets.

The EP comes with an A3-sized pictorial book of her posing alluringly in a skintight bodysuit. The book's cover photo is a topless shot with strategically placed hands - the most revealing she has been.

The conservative Poon says she was initially reluctant to take on the sexy photoshoot, but was hit by a realistic dose of advice from her record label colleagues.

The singer says: "My Taiwanese colleagues told me something very practical. They said that I've already hit 30 and should show off my beautiful legs now. Nobody wants to see the legs of a 40-year-old."

The 1.62m-tall beauty went on a weight-shedding regimen, which has become a routine every time she gets ready to release an album.

"My company and I have realised that my ideal weight to appear on TV and in photos is about 40kg," says Poon, who lost 5kg over the past six months to reach that weight.

For this album, she stuck to a strict diet coupled with a daily intense circuit regimen called the insanity workout. The popular fitness routine involves long bursts of intense exercise moves such as jumping jacks and push ups, with brief pauses to rest in between.

She says: "I eat one handful of food, be it vegetables, grapes or chicken nuggets, every three hours. I eat about five such meals a day.

"I also do the insanity workout for about 45 minutes a day. The first week I tried it out, my legs were aching so much that I could barely walk."

With a mischievous glint in her eyes and pointing to her flat tummy, she says: "Now I have ab-lines; maybe I can show them off in my next album."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Miss Kelly is out in stores and available for download on iTunes.