Youth Festival theme song is written by schoolgirl, 14

Trinity Lim Jing Xuan (at right in photo), who won the first Youth Festival songwriting competition with her composition In My Hands, wanted her friend, Megan Caroline Quah An, to record it as a solo. But Megan persuaded her to sing the song as a due
Trinity Lim Jing Xuan (right), who won the first Youth Festival songwriting competition with her composition In My Hands, wanted her friend, Megan Caroline Quah An, to record it as a solo. But Megan persuaded her to sing the song as a duet.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

For the first time, the Singapore Youth Festival's theme song will reflect the voice of youth, for youth, by youth.

Anglican High School student Trinity Lim Jing Xuan, 14, has won the inaugural SYF theme songwriting competition.

The festival is an annual event organised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to showcase the talents of students in the performing arts, sports and uniformed groups. Although each year's SYF features a theme song, previous years' songs were composed by professionals.

Trinity's entry, In My Hands, encourages youth that it is "better to try and fail than never try at all" in their artistic pursuits.

She saw the contest as a chance to showcase her passion for songwriting, something she has been doing since she was nine.

In line with this year's SYF theme of Youth HeARTS, Trinity wanted her song to be upbeat and uplifting while also encouraging young people to pursue the arts in the face of naysayers, a situation she also faces.

"People are too scared to do (what they want to do) because of what other people might say so they give up on it, but this song is really to show them not to even if you are scared," she said.

She had to struggle with her insecurities when it came to recording the song for the competition.

"I have sung on stage before, but they weren't particularly good performances. So I felt a bit down by that,"said Trinity. She eventually recorded the song with her friend, Megan Caroline Quah An, 14, whom she had initially approached to sing the song solo. Megan convinced her to sing it as a duet.

Trinity won $300, a crystal plaque and the chance to perform at the Esplanade Theatre.

The MOE panel of judges felt that In My Hands had "a set of well-written and meaningful lyrics, catchy melodies and upbeat rhythms, infused with a contemporary vibe" and resonated strongly with this year's SYF theme.

This year, MOE said it wanted to provide students more platforms to express themselves, so the songwriting competition was open to students from primary schools to junior colleges. It received 38 entries from 24 schools. Ten entries were shortlisted as finalists before the winning song was picked.

Nur Aqilah Jumadi, 12, from Yuhua Primary School, also clinched a spot as a finalist with her song, Stay Strong.

She drew on the times she had to be strong for inspiration. She said for six years, she had no permanent home because of her family's financial difficulties. She was also bullied by her peers on social media.

With lyrics such as "Don't stop what you love doing, just keep on believing and you will make it through", her song aims to motivate youngsters to go after their dreams in spite of obstacles.

The other finalists won $80 each.

Trinity and Megan will perform In My Hands at the Festival concert at Esplanade Theatre on June 30 and July 1, while the other finalists will perform on July 1 at library@esplanade at the Youth Station, Live Music showcase.

For more information, visit https://www.singaporeyouth festival.sg/celebrations/syf-celebrations-at-esplanade

Correction note: This story has been edited to clarify the performance venues and also to provide the correct name for Megan Caroline Quah An. We are sorry for the errors.   

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Youth Festival theme song is written by schoolgirl, 14'. Print Edition | Subscribe