Forum: Proud to be Cultural Medallion recipient

Composer Eric James Watson, the 126th recipient of the Cultural Medallion.
Composer Eric James Watson, the 126th recipient of the Cultural Medallion.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

I received the Cultural Medallion in 2002, and felt very excited for this year's recipient, Mr Eric James Watson, who deservedly received this year's Cultural Medallion.

I chaired the Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award music selection committee this year. All the recipients are most deserving of the accolades.

Senior Culture Correspondent Ong Sor Fern's article with opinions by previous Cultural Medallion recipients was informative (Too little, too late: Is the prize still relevant?, Oct 15).

I was surprised to read that some artists "think it's just a piece of worthless metal".

I received the Cultural Medallion at the age of 42. I was told that I was one of the youngest to receive it.

To me it was a great shot in the arm and it propelled me to work harder and produce more shows, record more albums and play more music in clubs and concert halls.

In fact, receiving the medallion set me on a trajectory that propelled my career and sent me on an ascent. I am 59 and I am still continuing to grow and my output continues to be strong. I have released more than 20 of my own albums since 2002 (45 albums in total) and performed thousands of concerts and shows to people all over the world.

I used my Cultural Medallion grant to record my album Homecoming, which was mostly my own original compositions. I would not have been able to record the album with so many great musicians and at a wonderful recording studio in Los Angeles if not for the grant.

Sure, there can always be improvements to the award. And it would be wonderful to have a dialogue with previous Cultural Medallion recipients and the National Arts Council (NAC) as to how the award can be enhanced and what can be done for recipients after the ceremony.

Receiving the Cultural Medallion has been most valuable. It was an important milestone in my journey as a musician that heralded a musical rebirth for me of sorts.

I am proud to be a recipient of the Cultural Medallion and I am grateful for all the support that NAC and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth give to the arts and to artists. I consider myself blessed to be a jazz musician living and working in Singapore.

Jeremy Monteiro

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'Proud to be Cultural Medallion recipient'. Print Edition | Subscribe