8 locals pen songs for SEA Games

Dr Sydney Tan, music director for the next SEA Games.

SINGAPORE - The next SEA Games will showcase many of the region's best athletes - as well as some talented musicians from Singapore. About eight to 10 songs composed by eight home-grown songwriters will be featured during the biennial sporting event, which will be held here in June next year.

Music director Sydney Tan, 54, says: "Each of the songs will represent different viewpoints and serve different functions."

With an interest in aesthetic by day, Dr Tan has worked on other national projects, including National Day Parades and Sing Singapore. He is also the music director for this year's National Day.

The first four songs that have been released on the SEA Games website are Greatest by singer- songwriter Daphne Khoo, 27; Forever by music producer Joshua Wan, 47; You're Almost There by singer-songwriter Joel Tan, 20, in collaboration with producer Ruth Ling, 33; and Still by musician Charlie Lim, 25.

Three more songs, Ordinary and Colours by Amir Masoh and Unbreakable by Jean Tan, will be performed at the SEA Games launch party today, which will be held at Gardens by the Bay.

The remaining songs will be released in the next six to eight months.

Dr Tan had identified most of the songwriters personally and they have come up with songs in vastly different styles.

Greatest is more anthemic, reflecting songwriter Khoo's desire to "get people to sing along to it", she says.

Khoo, the third runner-up in the first season of Singapore Idol, has fulfilled one of her dreams by writing Greatest. A fan of Gloria Estefan's 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics song, Reach, she says she has "always wanted to write songs for sports".

She hopes that the song will inspire others to follow their passion, saying: "All our dreams start with ideas - it is up to us to grow the legs to our ideas and make them come alive."

Forever, as performed by the local band The Steve McQueens, has Neo-Soul grooves.

The piece is "easily one of the more sophisticated songs in the collection in terms of musical arrangement", says Dr Tan.

He adds: "This song is also different from the others in that the perspective is not of the current struggle but the perspective that the things that we set out to do in our lives, live on far beyond our mortality."

Wan adds that this desire to leave a legacy is a common hope among people.

"You don't have to be an athlete to want to achieve something that is greater than yourself. As part of the human race, we will be inspired by athletes who push themselves to the limit and aspire to push ourselves to the limit too."

Singer-songwriter Tan drew from his own experience in sports to pen the country-pop song You're Almost There, which is about perseverance.

"I used to represent my school in tennis and football and it was always about winning as a school rather than as an individual. That definitely spoke to me and inspired the song," he says.

For Lim, the image of a lone sailor on the seas was what inspired his song, Still.

"At the end of the day, you are not really competing with other people so much as competing with yourself. Whether in life or in a race, a lot of the answers are within yourself, and that is what I wanted to represent," he says.

Music plays an integral part in sporting events such as the SEA Games, notes Dr Tan.

"I believe music works at a spiritual level. It captures the elements of human drama which are present in sporting events.

"Whether we're just leaving the stadium or many years later, these songs will still bring us back to the place where we shared the experience of the SEA Games."

meltay@sph.com.sg


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