SINGAPORE -While doing research for her poem based on the air raid shelter in Tiong Bahru, home-grown poet Jennifer Champion discovered a nugget of family history - her step-aunt was born in the shelter at 78 Moh Guan Terrace on the same day the step-aunt's father died in the bombings during World War II in 1942.
Champion, 26, is one of the eight artists taking part in Musicity Singapore 2014, which opens tonight at Tiong Bahru. It will feature a panel discussion and shows by home-grown band Seyra, Champion and another Singapore poet Marc Nair.
This is the second edition of the global music programme, which debuted here in 2012. Founded in London in 2011, it celebrates a city's music and urban design through music and architecture. The event has been held in cities such as Oslo and Tokyo.
Recalling how she stumbled upon the family connection while watching a Channel 5 news segment on the air-raid shelter on YouTube, Champion says: "I didn't recognise my step-aunt from the video because we hardly meet and I know her only by her nickname. My dad told me we were related."
She adds: "Finding out something like this gives a personal connection to the place. Before that, I was writing the poem, Let It Shine, as a member of the public. Knowing that there was family involved gave me a certain responsibility to convey the story sensitively."
While the first edition of Musicity Singapore was held in places such as the ArtScience Museum and Gardens by the Bay, the artists will perform in various locations around Tiong Bahru this year.
Ms Carolyn Oei, festival director and organiser of Musicity Singapore 2014, says: "Tiong Bahru as a festival location fits perfectly with the overall objective of Musicity. Tiong Bahru is rich in heritage and stories and, at the same time, is so contemporary."
The event challenges the idea of performance by selecting, she says, "atypical spaces while still retaining the essence of experiencing a show".
She adds: "The intimate and interesting venues invite the audience to go closer to the performers and take in both words and music at a deeper level."