She might be singing thousands of kilometres away at the Sing! China finals at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing tonight, but Joanna Dong can still count on her friends and collaborators from the entertainment industry back home to cheer her on.
A large screen will be set up at Singapore Lindy Revolution, an annual Lindy Hop festival, at The Pavilion at Far East Square today, where her fellow lindy-hop enthusiasts will gather to show their support. The event costs $45 at the door.
Ms Lim Sing Yuen, 55, a teacher at dance class Lindy Live at Timbre, is organising the watch party. She taught 35-year-old Dong how to dance the lindy hop, which led to her interest in jazz music.
She says: "The lindy-hop event will have dancers from all over Asia - Vietnam, China, Hong Kong - not just Singaporeans. We will all watch it together.
"We've seen her work hard throughout her career, from a small-time singer to a not-so-small-time singer, doing weddings, corporate gigs and theatre. When we knew she was going to the finals, we were so happy for her."
At least three of Dong's fans from home will be cheering for her live at the Beijing National Stadium - Ms Yuki Chong, 19, a Singaporean studying at Peking University, and two of her Singaporean friends.
She has such a beckoning style, which makes the listener think that she is singing directly to him. It's a rare attribute that endears singers to their audience members.
SINGAPORE JAZZ VETERAN JEREMY MONTEIRO, who recently collaborated with Joanna Dong on a rendition of Stefanie Sun's Encounter
"We got tickets online last week. Back in Singapore, I have been following Sing! China, so now that I'm in Beijing, I thought it would be really awesome to watch it live.
"And it's even better now that there's a Singaporean representing us, so we just wanted to show some support. We also want to see (the show's mentors) Jay Chou and Eason Chan."
Dong's family - mother, husband, aunt and mother-in-law - will be among the audience at the stadium.
Back home, friends will be glued to their screens when she takes the stage. She is up against Chinese student Guo Qin, 17; Tibetan teacher Zha Xi Ping Cuo, 30; Chinese singer Xiao Kaiye 26; and Chinese rapper Ye Xiaoyue, 26.
Singapore jazz veteran Jeremy Monteiro, 57, who recently collaborated with Dong on a rendition of Stefanie Sun's Encounter (youtu.be/ a7v2vWInab0), is recovering from the flu at home, but says this will not stop him from catching her performance on his iPhone or iPad.
"I think Joanna will do great. She has such a beckoning style, which makes the listener think that she is singing directly to him. It's a rare attribute that endears singers to their audience members," says the Cultural Medallion recipient.
"I will be rooting for Joanna and I messaged her to tell her, 'I hope you win.'"
Dong's fellow jazz singer and friend Bevlyn Khoo, 38, who is on the board of directors of the Musicians Guild of Singapore, will be watching the finals at home with her family.
"My parents keep talking about her," she says.
"At last, Singapore artists are getting recognition. Joanna deserves it because she has been singing and acting for more than a decade in Singapore."
A songwriter, Dong is also a member of the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass).
Dr Edmund Lam, 57, Compass' chief executive and director, will be keeping track of the finals.
"I will be watching live via cable TV with family members," he says.
"At the same time, I will be connected to social media to track the reaction of fans in Singapore, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia. I'm truly happy for our local music industry to have another Singaporean go through to the finals."
He acknowledges that Dong will be facing stiff competition.
"Of course I am hoping that she wins, but I think since it is not our home ground, ending as a runner-up like Nathan Hartono last year is already a huge achievement."
• Additional reporting by Gwendolyn Ng
• The finale of Sing! China airs on Jia Le Channel (Singtel TV Channel 502) tonight at 8.30pm. Singtel TV subscribers can watch Jia Le Channel for free today.
From Singapore Idol to Sing! China
A 22-year-old Joanna Dong comes into the public eye when she takes part in the inaugural edition of Singapore Idol. She did not make it past the Top 40 round and was criticised by the judges for her "auntie get-up". Months after her exit from the show, she starts singing at Raffles Hotel, her first steady gig.
She wins Best Supporting Actress at the ST Life! Theatre Awards for her role in the Mandarin musical If There're Seasons.
In the same year, she launches her independently released debut EP, Lullaby Nomad, with a concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio.
She releases a Mandarin version of bossa nova favourite, Summer Samba, with Brazilian music group Bossa Negra.
She makes her feature film debut in romance comedy Forever, playing the role of a video consultant in love, and wins the Star Hunter Award at the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival.
Naughty "Noor" Nice, a trio comprising Dong, jazz pianist Aya Sekine and percussionist Mohamed Noor, release their debut EP.
She duets with Sezairi Sezali, winner of the third edition of Singapore Idol, on bilingual track Starlight, for Sing, Love, an SG50 music project.
She also hosts two infotainment programmes on Channel U, Homeward Bound and Life Extraordinaire.
She makes it through the auditions for Sing! China and is mentored by Mandopop star Jay Chou. The show's panel of 51 judges and celebrity mentors propels her to the finals tonight. She follows in the footsteps of fellow home-grown singer Nathan Hartono, who last year became the first Singaporean to reach the show's finals.
Correction note: The story was edited to reflect the $45 fee for the event.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 08, 2017, with the headline 'Go, Joanna, go'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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