Reality TV contest Project Superstar may be a platform for aspiring singers, but finalist Abigail Yeo already has an EP which has earned her a nomination for the Most Popular New Artist at the upcoming Singapore Hit Awards.
The 18-year-old says she does not see her nomination for the awards, organised by local radio station Yes 93.3, as having an edge over the 11 other competitors in the finals.
"Many of them have experience performing and taking part in contests.
"This competition is going to be tough. Everybody is working hard to win," says the Temasek Polytechnic student, who found time to chat with Life! yesterday after finishing her exams.
Some contestants on the show's third season have impressive resumes.
There are 26-year-old professional singer Jayden Chew, who has serenaded audiences at music cafes, pubs and at getai shows, and athletics coach Alfred Sim, 32, who sang the theme song of MediaCorp's 2013 period drama The Journey: A Voyage.
Organiser MediaCorp said this season's Project Superstar is open to everyone regardless of experience. In previous seasons, those with singing or management contracts were not allowed to take part.
Though Yeo may be the youngest contestant, she is no stranger to competitions.
Project Superstar is her 10th and she has taken part in others such as Kovan Superstar and contests organised by local Chinese radio station UFM 100.3 and Yes 93.3.
She says: "I'm too young to stop competing. I feel I learn most about music and singing when I am performing onstage under pressure, not when I'm in a classroom learning theory and techniques."
Discovering her passion for singing at the age of 12, she signed on a year later for singing lessons at Lee Wei Song School of Music, which has uncovered singers such as Stefanie Sun and Kelly Poon.
Yeo says sheepishly in front of her mother, Madam Ang Cheng Mui, 45, who was present at the interview: "I was so obsessed with singing and taking part in competitions that I became rebellious and did not want to study during my early secondary years. But I came to my senses in the crucial year and studied hard for the O levels."
The animal lover, who has three cats, is now a second-year student pursuing a diploma in veterinary technology.
She plans to further her studies in the same field and get a degree.
"I'm still a student, my first calling is to complete my studies. I believe if there's a will, there will always be a way. Even if I'm studying, I can still pursue my passion for singing," says the middle child of parents who run a business selling aquarium fish.
Though her mother agrees that it is best for her to get a degree, it is clear that she is very supportive of his daughter's singing ambitions.