Claressa Monteiro mixes music and money at new business radio station Money FM 89.3

Jazz singer and former Kiss92 DJ Claressa Monteiro is music director of the new business radio station Money FM 89.3

Music has always been part of Claressa Monteiro's life. She has sung it. She has played it on air.

And from Jan 29, she will be in charge of all the songs played on the new business radio station Money FM 89.3

It will be a new challenge for the 48-year-old music director and senior producer-presenter, who is also a celebrated jazz singer with four studio albums and several music accomplishments under her belt.

The classy chanteuse says: "Money FM 89.3 is Singapore's first business and personal finance radio station, so it will feature many bankers, chief executive officers and finance experts giving listeners tips on how to better manage their finances."

Celebrities will also be sharing career advice and insights into how they manage their money.

"The topics can be quite serious and intense. So as music director, I want the music to release the tension, to keep things light and relaxing."

Expect a focus on happy and inspiring music, such as Mariah Carey's soothing 1993 ballad Hero and Pharrell Williams' upbeat 2013 hit Happy.

And since it is a station about money, tunes about cold, hard cash - such as Madonna's glamorous number Material Girl and Jessie J's uptempo hit Price Tag - will definitely have a spot on the song list.


Money FM 89.3 is a Singapore Press Holdings Radio station.

On the new station, Monteiro will helm the 2 to 4pm slot on weekdays, speaking with experts from the financial and business world on air between tracks.

This is a fresh departure from her music roots.

She says: "When I was first given the job, I honestly felt intimidated - do I have the intelligence and knowledge to interview them?.

But after meeting some of the industry's movers and shakers - such as Mr Quentin Sannie, co-founder and chief executive of French luxury speaker maker Devialet - she found they were not difficult to understand.

She says: "Whenever I had a burning question, I could always ask. Moreover, our listeners would also probably have similar queries.

"I want the station to have something for everyone - whether you have $500 or $5 million to invest."

Another way to communicate a practical approach to money matters is to draw on her own experiences, she adds.

"I am no financial guru. But I have worked in a private bank before and have invested in Reits (real estate investment trusts) and property.

"Full disclosure: I have also been burnt by some previous investments and financial decisions. So I know how painful it feels and hope our listeners can learn from what is shared on the station. Everybody wants to make money and not lose it."

That said, there is also another side of the coin - getting the best value out of the money you spend, she adds.

"I am very interested in this and I think the listeners will be too. After all, what good is money if you don't know how to enjoy it?"

The certified diver loves going to eco-friendly resorts in neighbouring countries with her two sons, Misha, 23, and Dante, 20. She is married to American music director Brian Benson, 57.

Monteiro, an avid golfer, is also a regular at several golf-related charity events. While frugal most of the time, she does indulge in the occasional luxury fashion item.

With all this focus on money, does this mean that she is moving away from her first love - music?

The former Kiss92 DJ says: "Yes and no. Music is not the main focus at Money FM 89.3, so there will be fewer songs every hour.

"But this also means each song I choose to play matters so much more. I will have to draw on my knowledge of music to create moods for the various programmes and, sometimes, make meaningful, even playful, observations about life."

And she certainly knows her stuff. Having been in show business since she was 17 years old, she still sings regularly and her most recent album is On The Other Side Of Me in 2015. She performs three to four gigs a month and has graced the stage at several large-scale events, such as the National Day Parade in 1987 and President's Star Charity show in 2012.

In 2009, the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore presented Monteiro with the Artistic Excellence Award. She is only the second jazz vocalist to be given this honour.

Music will still be a big part of her life.

"It is just that with every new move, there will be new challenges and new opportunities to grow."

Her hope for the new station is for it to have a distinctive sound - one which is happy and positive.

"I don't want angry music, so don't expect to hear much of Eminem rapping or The Smashing Pumpkins' heavy rock sounds."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 21, 2018, with the headline 'Mixing music and money'. Print Edition | Subscribe