Seventeen-year-old Raine Chiew used to write only English songs, but she tried her hand at writing songs in Chinese this year at the urging of her teacher at the School of the Arts.
Yesterday, a song she wrote on feeling torn about leaving home to chase her dreams - drawn from her personal feelings - clinched the grand prize in the open songwriting category at Singapore's national Chinese singing and songwriting competition for students.
She also won the top prize in the solo singing category.
The annual Xin Kong Xia National Schools Xinyao Singing and Songwriting Competition aims to promote awareness and appreciation of xinyao, or local Chinese music culture, as well as to ignite students' love for learning the Chinese language.
The grand finals of the competition returned as an in-person event in September, after going virtual last year due to the pandemic.
The competition drew more than 200 submissions by 250 student participants from 40 schools.
The winners were picked by music industry veterans.
At a virtual awards ceremony yesterday, a total of 30 prizes in five categories were announced for more than 40 students.
Raine bagged a prize of $1,500 for her song, My Dreams Are In The Distance But My Heart Is With My Home.
"I hope that my song will be able to help others going through similar issues feel less alone," she said, referring to the theme of the song.
The winner in the creative songwriting category was Lee Jia Min, 17, a student at Hwa Chong Institution.
Her song, Kopi-O, is about the sentimental appeal of old-school coffee shops. She, too, won $1,500.
This year's competition was jointly organised by the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning, Jurong Pioneer Junior College, Lianhe Zaobao and recording studio TCR Music Station.
In her speech at the awards ceremony, Minister of State for Education Sun Xueling said she hoped that through the creative effort of writing xinyao songs as well as singing them, local students can help preserve the culture.
"I hope that all of you will continue to write Mandarin songs, learn Mandarin well and fall in love with Mandarin!" she said.