Singaporean singer Joanna Dong says her third-place finish in the Chinese reality singing contest Sing! China has made her even more confident of pursuing a professional singing career.
The 35-year-old, one of five contestants who made it to the competition's grand finals held at Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium last night, was knocked out in the second round of the finale, after a duet with her mentor Jay Chou as well as a solo song.
As Dong took her final bow on the stage, she maintained a brave smile but did not say anything.
After she exchanged a handshake with her mentor, Taiwanese Mandopop superstar Jay Chou, he remarked in Mandarin: "It's such a pity."
Tibetan teacher Zha Xi Ping Cuo, 30, beat Chinese student Guo Qin, 17, for the title.
A combination of votes from the audience and industry professionals determined the winner.
Speaking to The Straits Times after the show, Dong said: "I will definitely be coming back to Singapore, and I will be based out of Singapore, but of course I will be shuttling between China and Singapore because it is after all really difficult to get your foot in the door into the wider Chinese market.
"Now that I have, I also feel it's my mission to continue to promote jazz to Chinese-speaking audiences - not just in China but worldwide."
For Dong’s duet with her mentor, Chou, they sang a medley of The Carpenters’ Top Of The World and Chou’s hit song Simple Love (2001) - a song from the time she first became a fan of his.
During the second round, each of the five finalists sang a solo song. Dong sang Taiwanese singer Fong Fei-fei’s When I Hear Applause.
She added that she could not have asked for anything more of the experience.
"I think I did what I could, and I'm really happy to have been able to share my music with all the audiences - here in China, as well as back home in Singapore," she said.
"I'm beyond excited, and I hope that Singaporeans are happy and excited for me too.
"There is no need for disappointment, because unlike an actual sporting event, there is really no objective criteria for measuring music and, to me, to have been able to make it this far, I feel incredibly, incredibly fortunate already."
Dong, whose family and friends showed up at the stadium to lend their support, said singing in China's Olympic stadium felt like she was "participating in the Olympics' equivalent of singing competitions".
The third-place finish, she said, "already exceeded" her expectations.
Dong, a multi-talented singer, actress and host, has been active in the local musical theatre and jazz scene.
She was relatively under the radar until July, when she wowed judges at Sing! China's blind audition, during which she performed Luo Da You's Love Song 1990 with a touch of jazz and an impressive mouth trumpet performance.
Dong is the second Singaporean to have made it to the finals of the popular singing contest. In the last season of the show, Nathan Hartono emerged as runner-up.
As for what is in store for the future, Dong said: "All I ever wanted to do as a singer was to be able to keep singing into my old age."
She added: "And so I hope that this achievement, or that placing third in this competition, is sufficient for people to be interested in me for a few years more."