SINGAPORE - It was towards the end of the Spellbound concert that homegrown singer Kit Chan dropped a bombshell.
She told a hushed Star Theatre on June 12: "Less than a year ago, I wasn't sure if I could sing."
Due to complications caused by acid reflux, she underwent surgery on her vocal cords in the first half of last year. She had "no voice" after the procedure and it was a traumatic time for her.
It has been a deeply personal and spiritual journey of recovery culminating in this concert, a two-night affair which kicks off her maiden regional tour.
And so, she was moved to share this publicly for the first time.
If she had kept mum, no one would have been the wiser.
Over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour-long concert, her pipes were in fine form. She is an emotive and sensitive singer with a clear and bright upper register and a rich and warm lower range and one could hear it all thanks to the crisp sound.
The only quibble was that the volume of the music was sometimes a tad too loud relative to the vocals.
The focus was clearly on the singing and the music, so the staging was kept simple with some choice costumes providing the visual flourish.
Chan first appeared in a Vegas-ready feathered and sequined white pantsuit and cape outfit and later changed into a beaded gown which exuded old-world glamour.
Between numbers, the seasoned performer shared, joked, teased and easily commanded the stage.
She even taught the audience a thing or two, including the definition of a "ba la" song. And no, in the context of music, the Mandarin term does not refer to guavas but instead, a ballad which is "very emo" and often performed with a pained expression.
Nowadays, she seldom belts out this genre of songs, even when they might have stood her in good stead on the recent season of the China reality television show I Am A Singer.
But she acknowledged the fact that her fans would want to hear them at her solo concert and so she duly trotted out hits such as Dazzle.
Unlike most Mandopop concerts, though, the lyrics to the songs were not shown for fans to sing along to, save for the track Heartache, one of her biggest hits. She would be the one doing the singing, thank you very much.
In addition to the de rigeur signature tunes such as Home and Liking You, Chan also showcased her versatility with the Cantonese numbers Waiting and Leslie Cheung's Chase as well as covers of Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares To You and Lana Del Ray's Young And Beautiful.
There was also an unplugged segment in which she delivered some of her lesser known, but not necessarily lesser, tracks.
Chan was clearly enjoying herself. She said at one point: "It's fun to sing songs, but telling stories through song is shiok."
On Marilyn Monroe's saucy and slinky My Heart Belongs To Daddy, she told a captivating tale as she let her closet cabaret girl out for a whirl. It even came with an amusing anecdote. She had performed it as a 16-year-old, complete with somewhat inappropriate actions, for a charity event attended by an audience full of older men.
"But I'll sing it because I'm of age now," she purred.
Like a fine wine, she has gotten finer with age. By the time she ended the show with the new slow-burn ballad Spellbound, the audience was probably feeling pleasantly tipsy.
This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.