The line-up behind the Sing, Love album, a tribute to Singapore, is no less than a dream team of local musicians.
It includes Cultural Medallion recipients xinyao (Singapore songs) pioneer Liang Wern Fook and jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro, as well as Mandopop queen Stefanie Sun, Singapore Idol winner Sezairi Sezali, veteran songwriter Chen Jiaming, folk-pop quartet The Sam Willows, rapper Shigga Shay and many more.
Executive producer Ruth Ling, 34, says: "This project is a birthday gift from all of us to mark how far we've come and where we are at now."
The album includes five original songs of different genres written in four different languages. It is available for free download at imclive-group. com/sing-love.html.
There will be a concert at The Coliseum at Hard Rock Hotel on Sentosa on Friday for which tickets can be won through various platforms, including the Red Roof Records' Facebook page.
It was Ling, the founder of Red Roof Records, who spearheaded the effort and got everyone on board. She says it was a simple process "in the sense that I have personal relationships with most of them. But it was difficult because of the sheer number of people that I had to explain the project to."
8 questions with Ruth Ling
Ling, who is single, was a 2013 Young Artist Award recipient. She has served as music director of xinyao concerts, played keyboard on tour with Mandopop stars, worked on stage musicals and composed music for the National Day Parade.
1. Was it difficult to get the right songs and strike a balance so that the songs in the album does not sound like National Day songs or too gimmicky with the mixing of languages and genres?
We didn't just want to look back at old hits but we wanted to create fresh hits too. We hope these are five songs Singaporeans of all ages and races will enjoy and learn to sing.
Because there are collaborations on every song, we had many minds considering those challenges. I believe that many heads are better than one. We consider everything carefully as a team and that's when we come up with something that's stronger.
I hope this opens up doors for people to feel that they can collaborate across genres and ages easily. When there's a clear example that it can be done, more people would try it.
2. How did you get into the xinyao scene?
I started playing piano at a xinyao concert in 2004 and they asked me to arrange for subsequent editions. I did. Then they asked me to music direct, which I did too. The scale got bigger and we went from a six-piece to 12-piece band and we included strings. That's where I met many xinyao pioneers including Liang Wern Fook and Chen Jiaming.
3. What was it like working with Liang?
I was in awe when I first met him because I am a big fan of his songwriting, particularly his lyrics. He is very meticulous about his work and very organised. He would send a draft of what he hoped to do quite early and I got to work with him every step of the way.
His Mandarin is so powerful - his SMS messages are in Mandarin - that I feel my grammar is all wrong. He does correct me every now and then for my own good, and he does it in a very gracious and gentle manner.
4. What are the highs and lows of going on tour?
The high would be during the three hours that we are performing to a crowd of 40,000 people shouting away, and you realise that someone's songs can travel to a place you might not have heard of but the people there have heard of A-mei and Stefanie Sun. I feel very renewed every time I feel the energy of the crowd singing super loud.
But I do not enjoy the flights to get to the venues. I don't enjoy going to different time zones and it's a short trip.
5. Tell us about the Stefanie Sun and A-mei that you get to see.
I constantly admire how Sun is a very well-rounded person. She can walk through an airport casually with the band. She's like a friend to us and it never feels like she needs to be with her bodyguards.
When I did my first album launch at the Esplanade in 2007, she sent me a basket of flowers. I said "Oh my god, I just received flowers from Stefanie Sun", and that really made my day.
A-mei is so easy to love. She's energetic. We have the celebratory banquet after the concert and she's there for 99 per cent of it and she's the livewire there. When the official party stops, she'll carry on somewhere else. She's just got this natural aura.
6. What do you want to achieve next?
I want Red Roof Records to grow a stable of artists, and with my production and marketing team, to create and market hits for them. We've got a long way to go.
In terms of musical theatre, I would like to explore doing more bilingual musicals. As Singaporeans, we have a bilingual edge. I would like to explore building a team of people to write and produce our own bilingual hit musical that will tour.
7. What advice would you give someone who wants to do music?
I didn't get enough information on the types of jobs available within music when I was young. That should be made available so that youths don't think that the only way to make music is to become a star.
There are lots of jobs in the music industry, a lot. So keep an open mind about where you'll finally end up in music and develop a skill as much as possible. Be very pro-active about it because now, there are grants.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered for kindness and not anything related to music - there are a lot of better musicians around. It's important to be a kind person and that's what I strive to do every day.
This article was first published on June 29, 2015.
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