Kyan Yadav, who turns 11 later this month, had auditioned for this year's ChildAid concert as a flautist. Instead, he was offered hosting duties.
The first-time performer, who will be among three emcees, is happy with the turn of events.
"It's actually working out very well. I honestly prefer being an emcee because it's a first-time experience for me. I was quite nervous at first, but it's actually very fun if I put my mind to it," says the self-confessed "talkative" boy.
The annual charity concert organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times, which went online last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, returns to the live stage at Resorts World Sentosa next Thursday.
The guest of honour is President Halimah Yacob, who will be accompanied by her husband, Mr Mohamad Abdullah Alhabshee.
Co-hosting with him are fellow first-time ChildAid participant Lara Van Steen, 10, and returning performer Gisele Chiam, 13.
Due to pandemic control measures, rehearsals had largely taken place over video conferencing.
But from Monday to Thursday this week, the participants gathered for in-person rehearsals.
Lara says: "Everyone was really kind and welcoming. There was a very positive energy and I'm super happy to be part of ChildAid. Kyan and Gisele are easy to get along with."
Gisele, who is returning to ChildAid for the fifth time this year, says that staging a show amid the pandemic took some getting used to. This year's show features only 31 performers instead of the usual 200 participants.
The Secondary 1 student says: "We have to wear masks during rehearsals when we're not singing and do ART tests, but despite the challenges, a smaller group of performers makes it easier for us to form stronger connections with one another."
Music director George Leong, 51, says he was pleasantly surprised by the high level of polish shown by the performers at the rehearsals.
"Even though the Zoom rehearsals were quite a pain, the kids are really enthusiastic and it shows. They did their homework before coming down for the physical rehearsals, and many of them were very well prepared and quite advanced by the time we saw them," he says.
ChildAid raises money for The Business Times Budding Artists Fund and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. The former supports school allowance for children from low-income families and the latter gives opportunities to underprivileged children and youth to develop their artistic talents.
The main sponsors of the event are UOB and MES Group, and the platinum sponsors are Citibank and Toteboard. The venue partner is Resorts World Sentosa. The concert's creative partner is Orangedot Productions and the executive producer is Global Cultural Alliance. The official radio stations are Money 89.3, OneFM91.3 and Kiss92. The multimedia partner is Noontalk, rehearsal venue partner is 10Square and streaming partner is Meta.
•ChildAid 2021 can be streamed on Dec 9 from 7.30pm on The Straits Times and The Business Times Facebook pages and YouTube channels, and www.straitstimes.com and www.businesstimes.com.sg. To donate, go to giving.sg/trcl/childaid2021