Dad's the inspiration

Dad's the inspiration
Singersongwriter Jaime Wong (foreground) counts her mum, Madam Nelly Poa, and older brother Jarieul among her biggest fans.

Singer-songwriter Jaime Wong might be only 24, but she started writing music with the guitar almost 10 years ago, a year after her father died from pneumonia.

Learning the instrument was more than just a hobby for her - it was also her way of remembering him.

The folk-pop musician, who will be performing at the Esplanade concourse on June 27 during Baybeats 2014, says of her father: "He would sit on the balcony and play Hotel California. It's one of my fond memories of him."

Wong, whose music is influenced by pop-folk star Damien Rice and bluesy folkster John Mayer, plans to release her first EP, Skin, by the end of next month.

This is funded by her $5,000 prize money from winning a music mentorship programme by Noise Singapore in 2012. Noise is a National Arts Council initiative dedicated to giving young artists a chance to showcase their work.

It also marked her transition from performing mostly at open-mic nights to music festivals.

She considers her four-track EP a milestone. "It represents my biggest dream as a kid - to become a musician and release my songs," says Wong.

She lives in an four-room HDB flat in Serangoon with her mother Nelly Poa, 51, director of a talent management agency, and older brother Jarieul, 30, who works as a public relations manager.

Despite her passion for music, Wong - who recently completed her master's in strategic studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Nanyang Technological University - plans to get a full-time job in research rather than music. This is because she enjoys what she studied.

"You hear stories about local musicians who work in banks for 10 years and decide to become musicians. Maybe one day, that'll be me."

Jaime, your father died when you were 13. How did you feel back then?

Wong: I was devastated but also felt the need to be strong and move on. And in a way, I did. I don't remember crying a lot, for one thing.

I still miss him every day. I don't think time heals all wounds, but it certainly does help you cope with it.

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