12-year-old soprano boy Mikey Robinson releases debut album

Twelve-year-old Mikey Robinson's Boy Soprano, which features 13 tracks, comes out on Friday

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Mikey Robinson, a 12-year-old boy of British-Japanese descent, will be releasing his debut album on June 2. The album, titled Boy Soprano, will feature 13 tracks including songs from Baroque, Classic and Romantic eras.
British-Japanese Mikey Robinson has performed five times in Asia and the United States.
British-Japanese Mikey Robinson has performed five times in Asia and the United States. PHOTO: UNITED RECORDS PRODUCTION

Mikey Robinson strides into a studio at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music with all the unbridled vitality of a 12-year-old. Fresh out of a Mandarin examination, the Tanglin Trust School student laments the difficulty of a comprehension question and fidgets in his seat.

If he were not clad in a debonair tailcoat with a white bow tie, people would assume that Mikey is a regular schoolgoing kid. In fact, he is a soprano singer, slated to release his first album on Friday.

The album, fittingly titled Boy Soprano, will feature 13 tracks including songs from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods.

Despite his age, the British-Japanese boy has amassed years of classical singing experience and has performed five times across Asia and the United States.

His most memorable performance to date is when he sang at a fund-raising concert in Tokyo in October last year to aid Japan's tsunami relief efforts.

"I had the opportunity to sing with an orchestra and a pipe organ. I could hear my voice echo throughout the whole church. It was really cool," he recalls.

The Robinsons moved to Singapore 19 years ago as Mikey's father, a 57-year-old management consultant, was posted here for work. Born in Singapore, Mikey is a permanent resident who is applying for Singapore citizenship.

He abides by a strict schedule, training one to two times a week with a voice coach and practising for up to an hour every day.

His professional foray into classical singing comes as no surprise as his mother, Mrs Yuri Robinson, is a third-generation multi-instrumentalist, who is trained in singing, the piano and cello.

Mikey's older brothers, aged 21 and 23, have also been exposed to classical music from a young age. His father is not musically trained, but is supportive.

Mikey was inspired to train his soprano voice when he watched the film Empire Of The Sun (1987) and heard the voice of James Rainbird, who sang the Welsh lullaby Suo Gan in the movie. "He sang with such a beautiful soprano voice and I instantly fell in love with it. I wanted to sing like him, so I started taking private voice training."

Despite his success, the prodigy is no stranger to negative comments about his singing, which has been dismissed as "girly" by his peers when he started performing at school. However, his music teacher gave him more opportunities to perform and his friends slowly began to appreciate his voice.

Mrs Robinson, who is in her late 40s, balances her role as Mikey's manager with starting her own musical therapy centre, which will cater to children with special needs.

Every bit the proud mother, she says: "Creating an appreciation for music has been a way to share our feelings and values as a family. I am happy that Mikey has discovered the joy of moving and entertaining people."

When asked about plans after his voice inevitably breaks, the singer is nervous but excited to have a different vocal range.

"Depending how low it gets, I may try tenor, baritone or bass singing. Maybe there can be a new album - Boy Tenor," he jokes.

• Boy Soprano is available on iTunes or at Mikey Robinson Music (www.facebook.com/mikeyrobinsonmusic).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 12-year-old soprano boy Mikey Robinson releases debut album. Subscribe