Singaporean music director behind Jennifer Lopez show at inauguration

Mr Lenny Wee produced, arranged, orchestrated and directed the music for singer Jennifer Lopez's performance at President Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. During the performance, Mr Wee was at the US Capitol lawn with the sound crew to supervis
Mr Lenny Wee produced, arranged, orchestrated and directed the music for singer Jennifer Lopez's performance at President Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. During the performance, Mr Wee was at the US Capitol lawn with the sound crew to supervise the audio.PHOTO: COURTESY OF LENNY WEE

A Singaporean was instrumental in producing pop star Jennifer Lopez's headline act at US President Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

Mr Lenny Wee, who has been in the US music industry since 2008, was the music director for the pop star's live performance at the US Capitol.

He produced, arranged, orchestrated and directed the medley of folk and patriotic songs for Lopez's segment - which saw her perform This Land Is Your Land and America The Beautiful - as well as her 1999 hit Let's Get Loud.

Mr Wee, 36, also worked on the pre-recorded music for singer Demi Lovato's performance on the Celebrating America TV show that aired on the night of Mr Biden's inauguration.

Based in Los Angeles, Mr Wee flew to Washington two days before the inauguration.

"It was a very strange experience," he said in a video call. "Everything was on lockdown and there were barricades around the hotel. We couldn't leave the hotel or meet anybody to socialise while we were there. I was there to do a job and everyone was there to get this event done properly without any hiccups."

He had a police escort every time he travelled to and from the hotel and the Capitol. He could not order food as delivery riders were not allowed in, so he had his meals at the hotel's restaurant.

On the day of the ceremony, Mr Wee arrived at the Capitol at 9am. During Lopez's performance more than two hours later, he was at the Capitol lawn with the sound crew to supervise the audio. He left at about 1pm for the airport, to catch a flight back to Los Angeles.

Mr Wee has worked with Lopez since 2013 for projects such as her live tours. Her team approached him two weeks before the inauguration.

"This Land Is Your Land and America The Beautiful are songs that have been done a million times. So they asked if I can do them in a fresh way that represents who she is as an artiste by using the big orchestra sound, but without it sounding too traditional," said Mr Wee, who specialises in arranging orchestras for pop artistes.

Mr Wee moved to the US in 2006 to study at the Berklee College Of Music in Boston after his national service. He graduated with double majors in music production and engineering, and contemporary writing and production.

He has worked on the music for major American events such as the Grammys, Oscars and Super Bowl, as well as shows like American Idol. "I'm very lucky to be able to do those things as an immigrant from Singapore. As a musician, not everybody gets those opportunities," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'Singaporean music director behind Jennifer Lopez show at inauguration'. Subscribe