Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singer-songwriters perform at open mike event in tribute of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE - When Mr Michael Cho, 34, heard Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announce on Monday morning that his father Mr Lee Kuan Yew had died, he picked up his guitar and wrote a song, something which he had not done for a long time.

He was one of numerous singer-songwriters who performed at an acoustic open mike event on Thursday evening at library@esplanade, in tribute of Mr Lee.

Organiser Ooom, initially an acronym for Originals Only Open Mike, is a social enterprise featuring open mike events, hoping to unite people and communities through music. Such events are held at least once a month.

Although the session had been planned in advance, Ooom founder Jonathan How, 42, decided to change the focus of the event, as people had said they were going to perform songs in tribute of Mr Lee.

One singer was Ms Daphanie Burnham, 33, an American citizen who has lived in Singapore for three years.

She dedicated an original song she wrote "Up in the Attic" to Mr Lee, and all Singaporeans.

"I chose the song because of the strength of the courage that it exemplifies," she said.

"From the quotes I've read, Mr Lee wanted every Singaporean to have that self-confidence in themselves."

Mr Hwang Kai Wen, 22, a member of acapella group Vocaluptuous, also performed at the event, before rushing off to perform with his group at Parliament House, where Singapore's first Prime Minister is lying in state.

"People like Mr Lee and his old guard had a lot of foresight, and did what was necessary in a tumultuous time," said the medical student from the National University of Singapore.

"What I do today is only because of what he did."

Mr Cho performed the song he wrote specially to remember Mr Lee, called "Our founding father today is no more".

"I feel that the most impressive thing he achieved was racial harmony, something that is rare to see in other countries," he said.