SINGAPORE - Another two Singaporeans have found mentors on Sing! China, the popular televised singing contest which greatly boosted Nathan Hartono's cachet in the region last year when he made it all the way to the grand final.
In the episode that aired on Friday (Aug 4), Stella Seah was recruited into Chinese singer Na Ying's team, while singer Olinda Cho picked Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou's team.
They joined the contest in the wake of Singaporean singer Joanna Dong and Curley Gao, a Chinese national studying here, both of whom made it past the blind auditions last month (July).
In Sing! China, which was a franchise of The Voice shows that air globally, the mentor-judges such as Na Ying and Chou initially hear only the contestants' voices when they sing and have to decide whether or not to pick them for their teams to compete in the later rounds. When they want a singer on their team, they would hit a button that makes their chair slide down towards the stage.
Seah, 24, told The Straits Times that she was not nervous as she had no expectations. Her heart started beating faster only when mentors Na Ying and Hong Kong's Eason Chan both wanted her on their teams.
They were impressed with her version of Taiwanese singer Richie Jen's I Am A Fish, which was infused with jazz and funk elements.
Over the phone from Hangzhou, where the show is recorded, she said: "Eason said his team is full of singers like me, who can sing funky and groovy songs, whereas Na Ying said she had yet to have a singer like me. I picked Na Ying because I wanted to join a team with a variety of singing styles and learn from them.
"I also want to learn from Na Ying as she is the queen of ballads."
Seah, who is signed to local label Ocean Butterflies, has released a Mandopop EP called Wings Of Dreams (2014) and also won StarHub TV's singing contest Sunsilk Academy Fantasia in 2012. Gao is her teammate in Na Ying's corner.
Unlike Seah, a first-timer in the show, Cho had joined the contest last year, albeit without success.
The 37-year-old felt demoralised after failing to make it pass the blind auditions and was not exactly ecstatic to receive a call from the show's producers to return for another stab at the competition.
"When I got the call, I was very scared. It brought back those scary memories. I felt it was a horror movie. Oh god, it's all coming back to me now," Cho, a Singapore Idol alumnus, told The Straits Times over the phone from Hangzhou.
"Then I thought to myself, 'I have to finish watching this movie no matter what happens, I'm not going to be scared anymore.'"
She received a confidence boost when three celebrity mentors out of four - Chou, Na Ying and China's Liu Huan - wanted her on their teams.
She said: "Na Ying gave me 100 marks, which was 'wow' coming from her. She is Na Ying. Liu Huan appeared to be speechless. Jay Chou told me, 'Come with me and I will give you the freedom to express yourself.'"
So the free-spirited Cho went with Chou, and has fellow Singaporean Dong as her teammate.
Perhaps her song choice was an indication of which mentor she favoured - she performed Chou's ballad Secret.
She said: "It was a big risk, singing his song. He wrote the song, he sang the song. If he didn't slide his chair down, I would go back to Singapore with my tail between my legs."
Cho flew to China last year after taking part in auditions held in Singapore, but was not picked to compete on the show. This year, her parents and her younger brother flew to Hangzhou to cheer her on.
Last year, Hartono became the first Singaporean to be picked by a mentor and to reach the grand final of Sing! China, which was known as The Voice Of China in the previous four seasons. Eventually, he came in second.
Local audiences can catch Cho on other platforms too.
She can be seen playing a weightlifter in sports comedy telemovie, Uplift, which premieres later this month on Hub E City (StarHub TV Channels 111 and 825) .
She will also be launching her own YouTube channel OliTV, which will have original content such as a talkshow hosted by her.
"Everyone knows I like to sing. but I like to talk as much as I like to sing."
Sing! China airs on Jia Le Channel (Singtel TV Channel 502) on Fridays at 9pm, the same time as China.