Winning with SASS

Winning with SASS

Armed with a strong set of pipes and a closet full of military-style blazers, all-girl vocal group SASS sang their way to the top of an international talent competition two weeks ago.

The Singaporean trio - comprising Sophie Soh, 26, Salima Nadira Mafoot Moss Simon, 24, and Siti Nur'Ain Binte Mohamed Firdous, 24 - beat some 200 groups from 55 countries and were crowned Vocal Group of the World at the annual World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Los Angeles, United States.

This is the biggest prize for a vocal group in the competition, which is the largest international talent search.

Notable previous winners include Filipino singer Jed Madela, who immediately signed on with record label Universal Records and went on to launch seven double-platinum albums, as well as Australian dancer Michael Dameski, who had the titular role in the Australian production of the musical Billy Elliot from 2008 to 2010.

It is also the furthest a Singaporean team has gone in the competition's 18-year history.

So unexpected was their win - for a crisp, choreographed rendition of Christina Aguilera's 2006 hit Candyman - that when their name was announced, the trio's "jaws dropped in the ugliest way possible - on live TV", says Salima. Ain is quick to add: "It's not that we thought we were bad, but we were just so in awe of the rest."

After all, the group was formed only seven months ago after talking about doing so "for the longest time" since meeting at Resonance, an a cappella group at the National University of Singapore, where they were all studying, says Salima.

All three had previous singing experience.

Soh and Ain auditioned for Singapore Idol 3, and Soh and Salima were in several music groups as well.

But the groups did not cater to their multi-genre cravings for radio-friendly hits, rap and R&B.

And so SASS - an acronym for the singers' initials - was born.

After Soh found out that some friends were signing up for WCOPA online in January, the group jumped at the opportunity to test their abilities as a group.

To qualify for the finals, they had to go through several local auditions, including an online one and two live rounds, and another in Los Angeles.

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