Dick Lee wins Compass prize for Home - 15 years after it was written

Composer Dick Lee (right) receiving the award for top local English pop song from Compass director Liang Wern Fook last night.
Composer Dick Lee (right) receiving the award for top local English pop song from Compass director Liang Wern Fook last night. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Home, already a favourite National Day song of many Singaporeans, is in the limelight again.

Fifteen years after it was written in 1998, it finally won its composer Dick Lee this year's top local English pop song award at the 18th annual Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) Awards ceremony last night.

It was the highest royalty- earning local English composition in the pop music genre for last year.

In his short acceptance speech - the shortest of the evening - Lee said he was "surprised" to get an award for a 15-year-old song. He said he hoped the award would inspire young composers to keep writing "because you can still win an award 15 years on".

He has been named top local composer of the year six times, including in four consecutive years from 1998 to 2001, and has won for top local English pop song three times in past years.

The 57-year-old composer, who was behind iconic local musicals such as Beauty World and Fried Rice Paradise, is lending his magic touch as creative director of an upcoming multi-million-dollar fantasy musical, Lightseeker. It will be staged from Nov 24 at Resorts World Sentosa, where the Compass Awards was held.

Compass tracks the royalties earned based on how many times a local song is performed live, played on radio and in nightspots and food and beverage outlets.

Last night, it gave out awards in 11 categories to the top-earning singers and songwriters in various genres, based on the amount of royalties earned for the year.

Another homegrown pop singer and composer, JJ Lin, continued a winning run. The popular Mandopop singer bagged the awards for top local artiste of the year, top local songwriter and top local Chinese pop song for Ji De.

He has won one or more of these awards for the eighth year in a row. Now on his global concert tour, he thanked the organisers and fans in a video recording.

Performances staged at the ceremony in support of local music included that by local rapper Shigga Shay of his catchy iTunes hit song LimPeh, rapped in Hokkien, English and Mandarin.

The cast of That Girl In Pinafore, a movie released this year about the local Mandarin folk- pop movement in the 1980s called xinyao, also performed two iconic songs from the movie composed by Liang Wern Fook. One song, Ma Que Xian Zhu Zhi (The Swallow With A Bamboo Twig), was allowed to be aired on local radio only this year, 23 years after it was first penned, as its dialect content was not deemed excessive now.

Others who took top honours included the band Audionauts, who won the top local Malay pop award for their hit number Maha Bisa Rahsia.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.