Sing! China

Singapore student picked for contest

Curley Gao, a Chinese national who has been studying in Singapore since she was nine, is attending Dunman High.
Curley Gao, a Chinese national who has been studying in Singapore since she was nine, is attending Dunman High.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

Another Singapore representative, after Joanna Dong, has found a mentor on popular Chinese televised contest Sing! China.

Curley Gao, 18, earned praise from Taiwanese Mandopop superstar Jay Chou, but chose Chinese singer Na Ying as her mentor in the competition.

Another judge on the show, Hong Kong singer Eason Chan, was also keen to have Gao on his team.

In the episode that aired last night, Chou likened her vocals to that of acclaimed Singaporean singer-songwriter Tanya Chua.

Gao, a Chinese national who has been studying in Singapore since she was nine, says: "People have said that I sound like Tanya Chua. I am always singing her songs. To hear it come from Jay Chou, it kind of confirms what people have been saying."

She was speaking to The Straits Times over the phone from Shanghai yesterday.

The Dunman High student, whose family lives in Singapore, is the second Singapore representative to make this season, after Dong, 35, was selected by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou in the first episode.

Last year, Singaporean Nathan Hartono was the first Singaporean to be picked by a mentor and to reach the final of Sing! China, which was known as The Voice Of China in the previous four seasons. Eventually, he came in second.

This year is Gao's second shot at the blind auditions; she was contacted by the show's production team to take part this year.

Last year, she earned a chance to sing onstage after taking part in auditions held in Singapore, but was not picked by any of the judges.

Gao picked Na as her mentor because she has hero-worshipped the veteran singer for a long time.

"My mum is a huge fan of Na Ying. I grew up listening to her classics such as Conquer. Her singing is so powerful, I want to learn how to have a stable tone like her," she says.

Na has an excellent track record of producing winners on the show - three of her mentees have won the title.

Music apparently runs in Gao's family.

Her mother, who is a retail trader, is of Uighur descent.

Gao, who is an only child, says: "In Xinjiang culture, everyone loves to sing and dance. I've been surrounded by music since I was born. When I was tiny, I hummed the melody of songs."

•Sing! China airs on Fridays at 9.10pm on Jia Le Channel (Singtel TV Channel 502).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore student picked for contest '. Print Edition | Subscribe