A song for our Merlion and Dazzling light show at the Merlion Park! 13 -16 Sep!

Our Merlion turns 40, and you are invited! First up! There’s a gorgeous dazzling light show playing at the Merlion Park from 13-16 September! More details below!

It feels awesome to be a part of the Merlion’s 40th birthday celebrations.I was ecstatic when I learnt that I was recording the song  “Inspiring Journey” for the Merlion’s 40th Birthday Celebrations. 真的覺得意義重大。 Have you heard it yet ? Here’s the video! (Composed by Kenn C, performed by me)

What the Merlion means to me…
I’m sure, many Singaporeans, like myself have fond memories of picture moments with the Merlion, or bringing our friends visiting from other countries on a visit to the Merlion Park. There are days when I’m in the car along Fullerton Road and  I make it a point to take in the lovely views of the water, because it instantly soothes my busy mind. It feels good to have a moment to quieten down and connect with the surroundings, and the Merlion always makes me feel at home.

I feel its very important to have a sense and connection to of who we are, and where we came from, how we have journeyed through the years, because this adds the color and character to our lives. Browsing through pictures of the Merlion on the internet, I see smiles, families, black and white photographs, I see the Merlion standing tall as the landscape of Singapore continued to evolve over the years, I see his footsteps linking the generations, the young and old, our past, our now, and our future. I see life when I look at him by the waters.

He takes the place in my heart,  not only as an icon, but a familiar friend who is very much a part of my and our lives. It is a personal connection, that will always be there when I gaze at the waters, or stand along the steps next to him, and I feel the song has captured that journey we have taken with him and for years to come.

Firstly, thank you to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for the honor and pleasure. It was a privilege getting to know and work with the wonderful team of people behind the celebrations; the STB team, Kenn C, the composer of the song “Inspiring Journey”, who is also a producer/arranger/music director that I really respect. Mr Albert Lim (son of 林浪新先生 who sculpted the Merlion)… and hearing his stories about he as a little boy, together with his siblings, helped his father as they worked day and night on the Merlion sculpture, the MLA team planning and executing the show & the videos,  you’ll hear Jim Lim’s version of the song too during the show, the students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Design who worked on the art installation that is on display outside, dancers….there was so much love and passion for our Merlion that went into all the preparations.


With Mr Albert Lim, son of Mr Lim Nah Seng 林浪新 at the launch of the Merlion art installation, Ngee Ann City.


Special thanks: To Keith Png for dressing me in his creation (KOOPS from Hide & Seek) for the occasion, and Passion Hair Salon (styled by Ryan Yap).


Penning my wishes for the Merlion.

When was the last time you saw the Merlion right before your eyes? For me, it was a breathtaking sight  as I waited with great anticipation with the team for the launch of the first light show on Wednesday night at the Merlion Park. He came to live, glowing on the waters, the pyrotechnics, song and dance. I was overwhelmed:) You have to catch it!!! More importantly, feel the warmth, that glow he has lit up in you that has been and will always be a part of you.

“Merlion & I: An Inspiring Journey” Light Show
 Date: 13 – 16 September 2012
Venue: Merlion Park
Show Times:  7:15pm, 7:45pm, 8:30pm, 9:15pm, 10.00pm, 10:30pm

Here’s more! Just one of the many costume changes the Merlion undergoes during the show!

Lovely times and pics, from the promo activities and preparations! :)


On 《早安您好!》, special thanks alldressedup for wardrobe.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear MERLION, shine on, 我愛你。

Yoga makes tough cookies

I saw this awhile ago. I think its insanely cute.

Yoga had me in tears this week. Good tears….We did the split. OUCH!

I’ve been attending yoga for a few months now. On top of the health benefits it brings, I really like yoga because there is one thing it teaches me – perseverance and endurance.

How and why?

1. Focus – Yoga involves holding a yoga posture for specific duration. My instructor always says “come on, you can do it, with every exhale, push yourself in the stretch.” while keeping time.

Some postures are so demanding you feel like giving up. But it is achievable if you concentrate on performing the posture accurately, and focus on the breathing.

2. Peace & endurance– The other aspect that trains this perseverance is for the fact that Yoga class is so quiet. You don’t hear anyone screaming “Ouch”, comment on the postures and no chit-chatting for sure :)

I plugged some images from Google. Imagine doing these postures without uttering a word! How do you do that? Well in yoga class, you do just it :-)

It has trained me to endure, and to stay focused. Seriously, the only things you here in class the instructor’s voice, and soft relaxation music playing in the background.

And then there’s a full length mirror in front of the class so we can check our postures. There’s something about reflection. This has become a weekly me-time where I gather my thoughts and find the two hours of peace that I need.

3. Perseverance – So, back to the split.

I am good with my back excercises, but the split is just not great! Held on for the longest time and this unbearable pain was pulling up in the leg (as you would feel if you try the split) but I held on till I found myself tearing up! LOL But alls good when the instructor stays stop. There’s this sense of satisfaction that you challenged yourself to a further place.

I had such a tough week and this reminded me that sometimes we forget we are capable of being strong. You get pushed and kicked for awhile and little events remind you that hey, you are a toughie.

Sometimes we get pushed to a point we think we’re about to break, but if we bite on and push ourselves further, you will realize you are stronger than you thought you were.

Oh wait, isn’t there a line from Winnie-the-Pooh? “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin

Love,

Serene

p/s: Image source: Yoga Cat from catpictures. All other images from http://www.myyogaonline.com/

The Muffin-renes turn Two!

今天小芝麻们两岁了。今天对我来说,也是所有爱芝麻朋友很特别的一天,因为两年前的今天,我踏出了第一步。

任何活动,你们有时候比我更快方上资料…
也都会先到活动场地耐心等候, 照片,录影都积极分享
一天内几场活动,你们就和我一起赶场。
唱歌的时候,你们就大声一起唱,喊到嗓子都沙了。
忙碌工作后,上Facebook, Twitter, Weibo 看朋友们的留言, 收到你们的信,手工,卡片。

无论来自哪一个国家,大家成为了我创作和音乐世界里很重要的一部分,都是我继续的力量,都让我一直觉得很幸福。

我要你知道,我非常珍惜。

芝麻一族粉丝后援的每一个成员,和所有爱芝麻的朋友们, 生日快乐!

Rock on and keep the music goin. PARTY!
……………………………………………………………………………………..

Hey there! I haven’t blogged in such a long time! Facebook was my fastest channel while on the roads in Taiwan and just got piled with work since coming back! Taiwan was great, playing back to back live shows with my budd and 師兄 Jiahui! So much pictures, videos… I’ll get them up! Its a one woman show manning all these hahaha!

Its a special day, the Muffin-renes turn two. TWO!!!! I want you to know how wonderful it is to see you at shows, to hear your voices, to see your smiles, to get your letters. I remember our last outing and was so happy to spend one on one time with you guys and find out how you were doing.

And its so lovely to see the muffin-renes family expanding, not just in Singapore, but we have friends from overseas too sharing all the love.

The fan support keeps me going and keeps the sane in the sanity through the toughest times!

Thank you all for making me feel so loved.

Back to the studio and working on demos… talk soon.
Hugs
Serene

Peace & Party! 😀

HUAYI 2012

I remember how my heart leaped when I stepped out onto the stage of the recital studio and saw the audience on that night. Close to a full house! WOW! :*) Thank you!

Felt really honored to be playing for the in::music series of the Huayi Festival because many singer-songwriters from the region that I really respect and love have been featured at the same series in previous years. And the venue! Esplanade!!!! Woohoo I was so excited.

It mattered to me that I was true to who I was to my audience that night, to connect with you and share the inspirations behind the songs I wrote. That we all have our stories, sure, mine to being a singer-songwriter was tough but rewarding, there were tears and sacrifices but through it all, a love for music which led me to you, and that’s what keeps the music going.

Was really excited to preview new material too! Hope you liked the opening song “自由”, “Happyness” and “One Last Try”.

Well, planning for the show commenced months before. The one thing I love from all these years traveling as a backing vocalist for concerts is the music element of these shows, all that planning to breathe live into songs, intros, surprises, climaxes.

Hence, though its refreshing to play the songs live, I didn’t want to just play them in the exact arrangements you hear them on the album. That is why we re-arranged songs like “巫毒娃娃” , “戀愛女生都是羊” planned stuff with my band leader Matthew, like the rock intro for “受保護”, Charlie done in Motown, or the rocked out “三頭六臂”. Songs like “手中線” “平行線” which had a special place in many of your hearts, we used original cello scores so you’ll hear the original string lines played on the record.

It can be intensely crazy being your own music director (I lost so much weight!) but all is made possible with the backing of a solid band, great music pals I roped in to play with me that night. You saw the boys: Matthew, KC, Wen, Hoe Kit, & Heavy Metal Mickey Mouse san, all awesome musicians in their own right :)

There were countless planning sessions, long hours of rehearsals, and I am so glad the boys put in all those hours and stood by me throughout.

Then there were other aspects like the rundown, cues, lighting, audio notes! To the point I didn’t have time to plan for the dressing up part, but also because I knew I was in very good hands with Desmond from Passion Salon for hair, and Keith Bryant Lee, makeup. I met Kenny from Depression two days before and we got my dress settled!

You were such a superb audience. I remember seeing a couple right in front grooving to every song, some waving at me from far. To all of you who have been leaving messages before the show, to ALL who came down to watch that night, THANK YOU!

Reading your messages on facebook and twitter telling me that you enjoyed yourselves, loved the music be it the piano or the band, and stories makes me smile because YOU were everything that mattered that night.

And to answer that question that everyone asked me:” SO. Did you eat 肉乾 the next day.” YES!!! 😀

Shout out to the Esplanade team for being awesome, from the festival coordinators, light, audio, stage crew etc! Woohoo!

How time flies in February… March is gonna be exciting!

ps: You can view all the pictures from that evening here!

Lotsa lotsa lotsa love.
Serene

Angel Voices

Hello,

How was your valentines? Hope you had a lovely one :-) I cooked a simple meal and was writing at home. Straight after the Huayi concert, I plunged straight into work as there’s so much to be done. And yes! I’ve to blog about Huayi too! I had such a blast, u guys are simply awesome! That coming up!

Have been catching up with reports about Whitney Houston and then, 鳳飛飛, how she battled her illness, and the great lady she was to her fans and those around her. The passing of two great singers within such a short span of time is just heartbreaking. I started looking up youtube videos of two of my fav songs by them this morning.

There weren’t even elaborate MVs during that time, not that it mattered. Revisiting the music of such greats like Etta James, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, 鳳飛飛 shows us how, it was and is all about good heartfelt music. Closed my eyes and listened to every word, every line, so honest, I was tearing up halfway through the videos.

鳳飛飛 《掌聲響起》

聽聽她的嗓音,她的堅強, 她的故事。

Whitney Houston – One Moment in Time
http://youtu.be/m46nvic8VIA

This is one song that always makes me feel lifted and walk away believing. I loved how she simply stood at that one spot and sang every word with conviction, and grace. Her voice soaring through at 4:10 of the video. 5:29 – precious.

R.I.P 鳳飛飛 and Whitney Houston. Thank you for sharing with us music in its purest form.

Hello 2012!

Happy New Year precious ones! Yay! I’ve done up a new blog banner. I hope u like it!

This week, I just had a haircut and a new color, thanks to the maestro David himself :) Am loving the new look and I feel refreshed and ready to take on the new year!

Just recently I was so excited knowing I was going to meet David for a shoot! :-) Naturally so, when you are going to meet someone whom you have utmost respect for.

It was my first time shooting in a studio, with full on angles, lights, the works!And naturally I was nervous! For instance, how should I stand, where should I put my hands.. and it was so humbling to meet David and the rest of the power packed team for the shoot, Wee Khim, Andy Lee & Martin Wong. They were all so encouraging and guided me along so well that it became really fun and relaxing on the set. Soon I was having a blast, and feeling superbly fantastic.

There was a nice chemistry and commitment to greatness from everyone in the room that was really inspiring.

The end product in Jan’s issue of 〈女友〉!
Serene Koong 龚芝怡 in NuYou Magazine

Serene Koong 龚芝怡 in NuYou Magazine
非常感谢 <女友>!

Each time I had a chance to chat with David on a few occasions, I truly appreciate how he shares his thoughts with me and gives me encouraging words of advise. (Was really touched to see his blog entry this week :*)

The path of music is tough tough tough and hence all the more I do not take for granted things and people I hold dear to my heart. When I took a moment to reflect on 2011 just before taking the stage for the F.I.R Guangzhou Concert on New Year’s Eve, I gave thanks for the many things.

One, for the love from my fans, and my muffins who are always there, rain or shine, who are here growing with me.

Two, my family and awesome friends, and some from acquaintances turned good friends who will check in on me every once in awhile and never hesitate to help when I call.

And finally, I feel constantly blessed to be able to meet great individuals and role models who are willing to believe, 肯給我機會, to do all they can to help, to guide and they inspire me in so many ways by virtue of who they are and all they have accomplished. And the one thing I feel is so important is to listen, to feel the energy around them, and absorb, and keep growing.

I have always felt since Day 1 that I embarked on this journey that nothing would have been possible without a constant accumulation of blessings and love from people I meet who got me started, who taught me so much and helped me in so many ways.

2012 here we come with new beginnings, grateful hearts and a commitment to a brilliant year!

Thank you David for your kindness and for being so supportive in so many ways I can’t thank you enough!


With David Gan :)


Quick photo with David and Andy after the shoot!