S.H.E's Selina wears burn scars like a badge of honour

Together: (From left) Hebe Tien, Selina Jen and Ella Chen of S.H.E.

KUALA LUMPUR - Meet Selina Jen - singer, host, actress, burn victim and survivor.

The sweet-faced 31-year-old Taiwanese member of Mandopop girl group S.H.E has permanent scars on her arms, legs and back, the result of a horrific on-set explosion in Shanghai in October 2010 that left her with third-degree burns.

She had to overcome physical and mental trauma as she made a long and arduous recovery.

But judging from S.H.E's sold-out 2gether 4ever Concert on Saturday at Kuala Lumpur's Putra Indoor Stadium, the Selina Jen of today is not ashamed of the scars that mark her body.

Like bandmates Hebe Tien, 30, and Ella Chen, 32, she pranced around the stage in sleeveless outfits and colourful off-shoulder dresses without drawing attention to the noticeable scars on her right arm.

In a video clip during her solo segment, Jen was filmed undergoing physiotherapy.

While it may have pained fans to see her scars on display, it was heartwarming to see her break into a smile at the end of the clip.

Emotions ran high when she took to the microphone to address the full-capacity 10,000-strong crowd after delivering her self-penned song Dream, which was released in December 2011 as part of her EP, Dream A New Dream.

As chants of "Selina, jia you! (Mandarin for you can do it) erupted around the stadium, Jen held back tears.

"Oh dear, why do all of you have to shout these words of encouragement?" she joked.

"I was feeling okay before this, now I think I'm going to cry."

The mood turned sombre as she recalled her darkest days.

"When I wrote Dream, my life had hit rock bottom. I was unable to enjoy happiness and most of the time, I'd just hug my husband (Taiwanese lawyer Richard Chang) and sob," said Jen.

"But look at me now, I can laugh and jump."

Then, her voice started to crack.

"And on my trip here, I finally managed to swim in the pool, like all of you. It's not a dream anymore."

More positive

Thanking all S.H.E diehards for sticking by her through the tumultuous "two years and nine months", Jen added that since the fateful accident, she has become a "more positive and grateful person".

Come Oct 26, local fans can catch S.H.E's performance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The concert is a sold-out affair, but according to concert promoter Unusual Productions, additional seats have just been added.

LOUD spoke to Mr Chou You-Yang, the producer of S.H.E's 2gether 4ever tour, who heaped praise on Jen's efforts in making the concerts a success.

"Her recovery is fantastic. Before our tour started, she had already taken off her pressure garment," he said.

"In the beginning, when we were planning the concerts, we took her injuries into consideration and tried to ease her burden as much as possible.

"For example, we made sure that each dance segment wasn't too lengthy."

Holographic images of youthful-looking versions of Jen, Chen and Tien were also projected onto the stage during their medley of fast tracks like Remember and Chinese Language, which cleverly enhanced their visual presentation.

"2gether 4ever is the greatest hits tour after all, so we loved the idea of the three of them dancing alongside their younger selves," added Mr Chou.

For most of the three-and-a-half-hour gig, which saw the trio cover all their classic songs - from Super Star and Grey Skies to Shero - Jen was upbeat and had a ball of a time, cracking jokes with her gal pals.

At one point, she teased reticent Tien, the group's remaining bachelorette: "Hebe, you better pick up some tips from Ella on how to be a Malaysian daughter-in-law. Singapore's not too far from Malaysia!"

It was a sly dig at local singer JJ Lin's headline-making declaration of love to Tien - his self-confessed "longtime crush" - at his concert at the Taipei Arena two weeks ago.

Chen, whose husband is Malacca businessman Alvin Lai, proudly brandished her knowledge of South-east Asian street food, telling the crowd that her favourite dishes were "nasi lemak, satay, bak kut teh and roti canai".

Colloquial dialect phrases like "jia lat" (terrible in Hokkien) and "buay pai seh" (thick-skinned in Hokkien) also rolled off her tongue easily.

Malaysian fans LOUD spoke to gave shout-outs to Jen.

"I really admire Selina's perseverance, I don't think her scars will leave a dent in her life. To me, they are beautiful scars," said undergraduate Chen Huiwen, 22.

"After her accident, a lot of us were prepared that there would never be a S.H.E concert again...but Selina has proven us wrong."

Echoing similar sentiments was pre-university student Vivian Lim, 19, who added: "Her courage is both inspiring and motivating. Whenever I face obstacles, I'd think of Selina. If she can overcome what she went through, I feel that I can too."

WHAT: S.H.E 2gether 4ever World Tour 2013 WHEN: Oct 26, 8pmWHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium TICKETS: $98, $138, $168, $198 and $228 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)

Overcoming challenges

Selina Jen isn't the first music star to injure herself during the course of her work - and neither will she be the last. We look at three other artistes who have bounced back stronger from accidents.

Eason Chan

In April 2002, the 38-year-old Hong Kong crooner hurt himself in the groin after a wooden plank he was standing on came loose during a show in Taiwan.

The plank hit him between the legs, injuring his testicles, as well as a ligament in his right thigh.

Chan reportedly had surgery to remove blood clots from his right testicle.

Today, he's one of Cantopop's biggest superstars and is unperturbed whenever his showbiz peers crack jokes about his bits on TV talkshows.

Travis Baker

The former drummer of US punk rock band Blink-182 was critically injured in a fiery Learjet plane crash that killed four people in South Carolina in September 2008.

Barker, 37, survived the tragedy alongside celebrity disc jockey DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) and spent more than 11 weeks in hospitals and burn centres. He also suffered briefly from posttraumatic stress disorder.

Goldstein died of a drug overdose in 2009.

As for Barker, he's still alive and kicking. The father of two released his debut solo album, Give The Drummer Some, in 2011.

Secret

Last December, the K-pop girl group met with a road accident in South Korea, leaving their fans in shock.

The car the foursome were in overturned after skidding on an icy patch and crashed into a guardrail.

Rapper and songwriter Zinger, 23, suffered the most severe injuries - she was hospitalised for fractured ribs and a bruised lung.

Her team-mates were luckier - 23-year-old leader Hyosung sustained a knee injury, while 22-year-olds Sunhwa and Jieun escaped with bruises.

Ironically, the episode has given their popularity a boost. The girls released their fourth EP, Letter From Secret, in April to good reviews.


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