Chyi Yu spreads the love

Chyi Yu (left) and her brother Chyi Chin (right) showed off brother-sister chemistry when they performed The World Outside and I’m Willing by Faye Wong.
Chyi Yu (left) and her brother Chyi Chin (right) showed off brother-sister chemistry when they performed The World Outside and I’m Willing by Faye Wong.PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION/ROCK RECORDS

The Taiwanese folk-pop singer put her audience at ease with her pure and clear vocals and her moving renditions of classics

It was only last December when Taiwanese folk-pop singer Chyi Yu performed in her first solo concert in Singapore.

For last Saturday's concert, she had reinforcements. Her brother Chyi Chin, Taiwanese singer- songwriter Jonathan Lee and home-grown pop star Stefanie Sun were guest performers at the charity concert, which was raising funds for Ren Ci Hospital.

"Without them, I would not be able to sell the tickets," she quipped humbly.




    The Star Theatre/Last Saturday

The concert was planned as the first of a trilogy of charity shows to be held in the next few years. At last night's show, a total of $2,003,776 was collected.

With her immense star power on stage, the 58-year-old singer was undeniably the biggest presence at the three-hour show. Her voice, pure and clear, brought richness to English evergreens such as Memory, from the musical Cats, and The Rose, which was first released by Bette Midler.

Her strength lay in putting the audience at ease. Hitting the high notes in the classics Your Smiling Face and Dream Field effortlessly, she crooned like an elder sister dispensing gentle advice, nourishing the soul.

She surprised with her rendition of Home, mashing up the English and Mandarin lyrics. While Kit Chan's original version appealed to the masses, Chyi's elevated the song to an ethereal level.

Her aura seemed to overwhelm Sun a little, when she shared the stage to sing Chyi's biggest hit, The Olive Tree, a song Sun's father used to sing to her as a lullaby. With one hand tucked into the pocket of her navy blue skirt, Sun appeared like a schoolgirl asked to perform with the school principal.

It was only during her solo segment when she sang her own songs Kepler and Against The Light that she was back in her element.

Even Lee commented later that when he watched backstage as Sun and Chyi performed, he knew how singing with a powerhouse could be nerve-wracking.

"Your hands and legs would be freezing cold," he quipped. "That's why I am getting her to sing my song."

They sang Lee's iconic work The Price Of Love, with Chyi harmonising with her old friend.

Lee, in his own segment, was a bag of energy, ad-libbing classics such as Infatuation and Crossing The Oceans To See You. In an ash-grey jacket and jeans, he drew laughter with his cheeky remarks.

"Some shows are (for me) to earn money. Some are happy work. This is one of them," he said. "Many in the audience started listening to my songs when they were in their youth. Now even I have turned into an 'uncle'."

While Lee played comedian, Chyi Chin was still the charming slow rock balladeer of his younger days. Unfortunately, he was recovering from a bout of flu he caught in wintery Beijing just days ago. He was unable to hit the high notes in his iconic songs Wolf and Night Night Night Night.

Still, all he had to do was flash his toothy grin, point the microphone at the audience and his fans were more than happy to take over the singing. After all, it has been 15 years since he last performed in Singapore.

The brother-sister chemistry was evident when the two performed The World Outside and I'm Willing by Faye Wong. He gave his all to complement his sister's warm vocals.

When it was her turn to go solo again, she played tribute to the late Leslie Cheung and Feng Fei-fei, with Silence Is Golden and When I Hear Applause respectively.

The singer, who now focuses on recording religious music, also sang an enchanting version of the Buddhist chant The Heart Sutra, as well as the hymn, Amazing Grace.

Before ending her encore with Sarah McLachlan's Angel, she alluded to the terrorist attacks in Paris. She asked the audience to close their eyes for a moment.

"Feel the positive energy around you. You are all angels, with your generosity. Spread your love."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2015, with the headline 'Chyi Yu spreads the love'. Print Edition | Subscribe