Guitar- and erhu-playing Tay Kewei Singapore's next Mandopop star?

Guitar- and erhu-playing Tay Kewei Singapore's next Mandopop star?

The Straits Times' new live music video series ST Sessions continues with another homegrown singer and rising star Tay Kewei for the second episode.

After the first episode featuring local boy Gentle Bones, we turn our attention to 31-year-old Tay, whose dream is to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin and make it big in the region.

She performed at the 2014 National Day Parade and was also featured in the music video, We Will Get There & One People, One Nation, One Singapore.

Her Mandopop album, Turn Back & Smile, was launched in September 2014, after two earlier albums comprising mostly English covers, with her label S2S.

Tay kicked off 2015 with a bang with her marriage to Project SuperStar winner Alfred Sim, 33, in January. They met in 2004 when they were guest singers at the solo EP launch of local singer Peter Huang, who is also part of a cappella group MICappella. They bonded over their common interest in music and started dating in 2005.

On her latest album, she helped to write nine of the 10 songs; the process was not an easy one. Her label wanted more radio-friendly and commercial songs. Her manager had said: "When I hear it, I would know it."

Tay has done back-up singing at the gigs of top stars such as A-mei, Wang Leehom and David Tao. But the lesson she takes away from working with them is not a musical one.

She said "Leehom is such a humble person. He remembers the names of people around him that you don't expect him to remember. Small things like that make such a big impact on people. I used to feel I'm such a small fry but he chatted with me and it made me feel good about myself."

Her album includes emotive ballad Heart Shaped Void, acoustic guitar number Missing You as well as the more upbeat title track. The plan is to move on to Taiwan and Hong Kong this year to promote the album.

Reflecting her own interest as an erhu player - her father teaches the traditional stringed Chinese instrument - the album contains a few tracks with a distinct zhongguofeng (traditional Chinese flavour). Of the track Nostalgia, she said: "Even the way I sing, I tried to sing like an erhu, the way it inflects. I do think the sound of the album is quite diverse."

At their wedding last month, Tay and Sim performed a duet featuring lyrics by the couple, which they will release soon.

Tay said: "It's going to be our first original song, it will be ours, it will be very meaningful. It's going to be a nice ballad about love, not just about us.

"I want to make it a must-sing song at karaoke."

Additional reporting by Gwendolyn Ng

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