The 2017 Life Power List

Singing her way to international fame


20 Joanna Dong, 36, singer

With her poised performances and jazzy takes on Mandopop, singer Joanna Dong won over viewers and music veterans to emerge third in the hugely popular reality television show, Sing! China.

It catapulted her, and jazz, into the limelight - and proved that Nathan Hartono's second-place finish the year before was no fluke for Singapore.

She says: "I'm very, very worried that at some point, I might just look back and this whole thing was a mirage. It's definitely a milestone event, not just for my career, but also my whole life."

This is the first time Dong, who is married, has appeared on the Life Power List.

Before appearing on Sing China!, she juggled several jobs, including singing at corporate events, hosting television infotainment shows and acting on stage and in film.

She put out a new single with home-grown label Red Roof Records last Friday, a bossa nova makeover of Wakin Chau's I Truly Give My Love To You, and wants to test the market with more releases.

"The competition is quite an exceptional platform and we're not sure when we release music outside of the competition structure, if it works for the listeners."

By her own admission, she is "not a great songwriter".

"I can sing and dance, do musical theatre and some hosting, but rather than put out mediocre work for the sake of being able to slap on a singer-songwriter label, I'd rather leave that work to the people who are talented. I see myself more as a storyteller."

So will her mentor, Mandopop superstar Jay Chou, be penning a number for her? Dong says: "That would be a dream come true, but I feel like this year, I've gotten so much that I dare not even ask for more - that would be way too greedy."

Boon Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 03, 2017, with the headline 'Singing her way to international fame'. Print Edition | Subscribe