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WHEN veteran musician Dick Lee sang his classic tune Life Story at The School of the Arts (SOTA), it filled the music students with hope and inspiration.
Natasha Michella Da Costa, a 15-year-old student majoring in Voice (Music), said: "I am amazed that he composed this song when he was 17. It's such a beautiful and touching song. I love the words in the song: 'Thinking back/ I like to dream of things I would have done/ If I were braver, then again I'm not /What's there to do?' "
"The melody and the lyrics fit perfectly and the song relates to my journey as a teenager, how I would want to create my own life story."
Lee was sharing his career tips, advice, anecdotes and creative processes with more than 40 students aged 15 or 16. The students listened intently while the 2005 Cultural Medallion winner related how he overcame personal difficulties to continue his journey on becoming a successful artist.
Ms Da Costa adds: "I am looking forward to the concert. I think it is going to be a spectacular show. It is going to be a concert full of Singapore's songs, songs that define our nation."
She, along with 600 other students and many members of the public, will be attending Lee's concert this Friday at the Star Theatre to mark his 60th birthday. Tickets are still available from Sistic.
The concert will look back at Lee's life in music and entertainment, from his modest beginnings as a teenage contestant on Rediffusion Talentime right up to his present-day output and success.
The concert kicks off The ICON series, a new platform set up by the Sing50 Fund to salute the best musicians of Singapore. The Sing50 Fund originated from last year's Sing50 mega-concert organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times to celebrate the country's 50th birthday. The fund aims to preserve and celebrate Singapore's music heritage by bringing it to schools and the wider community.
The ICON series is co-produced by The RICE Company, anthology and Music & Movement. The Sing50 fund is managed by The Rice Company.
Danny Imson, a music teacher at SOTA, said: "It was enlightening to hear Mr Lee's insights on his struggles and the realities of the music industry. Our school invites artists who are practitioners of their field because it's important to expose our students to skills and experiences outside of the classroom."
Lee said that it was important for young artists to "find their way early - the earlier, the better". His big tip for young musicians is to "emulate your music heroes . . . it's a start to find your own style".
At Friday's concert, Lee will sing the songs that mark the milestones of his career, including those from his 1974 debut album Life Story, his platinum-selling regional breakthrough The Mad Chinaman and the hit musicals such as Fried Rice Paradise and Beauty World. He will also sing the songs produced through his collaborations with Hong Kong stars such as Jackie Cheung and Sandy Lam, as well as his popular National Day songs Home and Our Singapore.
Edmund Cheng, chairman of the Sing50 Fund, said: "We are honoured to have Lee kick off the Icon Series concert. Lee is one of Singapore's best-known music personalties whose career spans more than 40 years. He is among the first to champion the inclusion of Asian elements in his music to create the flavour of Singapore pop. He brought prominence to Singapore music beyond our nation to much of Asia."