ChildAid 2018: A night to remember

143 ChildAid performers sing and dance their way through 60-plus years of pop music

So what if these youngsters have not lived through most of these eras of music?

The 143 young performers, aged five to 18, of ChildAid still brought to life those decades, sashaying their way through more than 60 years of pop music - from the 1960s to today.

The 14th annual charity concert - titled Jumpin' Jukebox Jive this year - was held on Sunday and Monday.

The music extravaganza featured protagonist Heema (played by Heema Izzati Zainudin, 12, from Singapore Chinese Girls' School), who meets a music enthusiast (played by Marcus Chiau, 18, from School of the Arts) who owns Jukebox Jive cafe. The third host of the musical was Ashley New, 15, from Methodist Girls' School, who played the waitress of the cafe.

Heema takes shelter in the cafe during a thunderstorm, and Marcus introduces her to the evolution of pop music - encouraging her to pursue her passion for music.

As if passing through a time machine, the trio travel back to the 1960s, revisiting hits such as Fun Fun Fun by the Beach Boys and Rhythm Of The Rain by The Cascades before segueing into the hippie, flower-power era of the 1970s, with performances of songs like Sing, by the Carpenters, and a rousing dance number, The Hustle, by Van McCoy.

When it came to the 1980s segment, numbers like Venus by Bananarama, and I Love Rock And Roll by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts roused the audience.

GIVING BACK

I believe and understand the importance of external assistance for those who need it. It not only supports us financially, but also emotionally, as it makes us feel that we are not alone and that we matter enough for people to want to help us.

MARCUS CHIAU, 18, from School of the Arts, who plays the owner of Jukebox Jive cafe. Marcus, himself an SPMF beneficiary this year, said he wanted to "give back and contribute to society with whatever I have, in this case it would be performing".

Syah Riszuan Huslan, 13, from Assumption English School, who performed a stirring rendition of Whitney Houston's Greatest Love Of All, said: "When I sing that song, I just tell a story. The song teaches me about learning to love yourself, take care of yourself, and about the importance of giving back and passing down what you know to others."

Other highlights included three groups of performers, aged nine to 15, who stole hearts with their imitations of the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls, from the 1990s, and Britney Spears in the 2000s.

First-time ChildAid performer Mahirah Firzanah Sulaiman, 14, from Meridian Secondary School, sang Alicia Keys' If I Ain't Got You with Isabelle Wong, 13, and Kellianne Ng, 15, in the 2000s segment.

Costume designer Frederick Lee added to the magic with his wardrobe designs, from custom printing fabric to create the colour-block dresses of the 1960s, to creating the outrageous shoulder pads and sculptural looks of Lady Gaga.

Singer-songwriter and Cultural Medallion winner Dick Lee was the creative director.

The gala night on Monday was capped off with a cheque presentation by the sponsors of ChildAid, which is organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times.

President Halimah Yacob witnessed the cheque presentation and gave away tokens of appreciation. Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group of Singapore Press Holdings and editor of The Straits Times, accepted the cheques.

Main sponsor United Overseas Bank gave $1 million, while the other main sponsor, Citi Singapore, gave more than $730,000. Other sponsors included Porsche Asia Pacific and Stuttgart Auto, Suntory Beverage & Food Asia, and the Tote Board. The official venue partner was Resorts World Sentosa.

In all, $2,057,237 was raised for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF), which gives needy students money for recess and transport fees, as well as The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which pays for arts training for disadvantaged children.

Marcus, himself an SPMF beneficiary this year, said he wanted to "give back and contribute to society with whatever I have, in this case it would be performing". "I believe and understand the importance of external assistance for those who need it. It not only supports us financially, but also emotionally, as it makes us feel that we are not alone and that we matter enough for people to want to help us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'A night to remember'. Print Edition | Subscribe