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LIVING LEGACY: It was a night of spectacle and nostalgia as past and present icons of Singapore's music industry performed hits from the past 50 years to a sellout audience at the National Stadium. On stage for the show finale with Dick Lee are SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang, Minister of Education Heng Swee Keat, President Tony Tan and his wife Mary, and SPH editor-in-chief of English/Malay/Tamil Media Group Patrick Daniel.

Sing50 rocks crowd of 40,000

08/08/2015 - 05:50


SONGS come and go on charts, but some never leave your heart. And so it was that Sing50 became a night of musical and emotional crescendos, a spectacular and nostalgic ride through 50 years of Singapore music.

Sing50, organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times, featured some 250 Singapore musicians at the National Stadium, playing an expansive catalogue of the country's best songs of five decades.

Almost every giant of the Singapore music industry, each having dominated the scene at different times, had a moment on stage to play Singapore's favourite songs, from the pop ditties of the 1960s to the more eclectic tunes of 2015.

Dick Lee, Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin may have been the headliners but a large pantheon of heroes past had been recalled to the arena. Despite the patchy acoustics, the artists generated a strong wave of nostalgia and collective pride among the 41,343 in the stadium.

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Songs as old as The Quests' debut single Be My Girl and Jeffrydin's Kenangan Ku (My Memories) - both monster hits of the 1960s - were given a fresh lease of life. Favourites from the 1980s and 1990s such as The Oddfellow's So Happy and Mavis Hee's Cheng Li De Yue Guang (The Moonlight In The Town) had older audiences singing along with gusto. And more recent hits such as Reuby's My Sunshine and WilTay's Hola also made the playlist.

Directed by Jeremiah Choy, the concert kicked off with a sizzling tribute to Anita Sarawak, followed by a cross-generational medley of songs by five giants of Malay music - Jeffrydin, Rahimah Rahim, Ramli Sarip, Art Fazil and Sezairi. The Quest's frontman, Vernon Cornelius, teamed up with The Pinholes for a 1960s ride down memory lane, which accelerated with X'Ho and The Oddfellows' 80s and 90s numbers.

After a theatre musical segment led by Babes Conde, a cappella group Micapella paid homage to the seminal xinyao movement with a medley of Liang Wern Fook's songs. That was followed by a lush jazz segment featuring Jeremy Monteiro, Melissa Tham, Rani Singam and Jacintha.

But it was the best Indian musicians of Singapore - namely, Maniam, Mohamed Raffee and Mohan - that got some audience members on their feet with their infectious beats.

From this point on, the concert never flagged. When evergreen songbird Tracy Huang - still lovely at age 63 - lent her honeyed vocals to two classic numbers, the crowd whooped and whipped out their phones to wave their inbuilt flashlights.

The tempo picked up when Youtube stars Ling Kai, Reuby and WilTay took to the stage. It then went into overdrive as rock royals Wendi Koh and Douglas O roared out three rock favourites.

Dick Lee reasserted his position as pop's elder statesman with his deliciously eclectic songs, before a big crew of rhyming rappers led by The Black Eyed Peas member got fists pumping in the air.

The best was saved for the final hour, as Singapore's reigning pop prince JJ Lin delivered his hit River South. He was then joined by China-born piano sensation Lang Lang for their joint hit Clash of the Souls.

This was followed by the premiere of Kelly Tang's classical tribute to Singapore, Concerto in Three Movements, which was perfectly executed by Lang Lang, concert partner Metropolitan Festival Orchestra and 50 pianists on Steinway baby grand pianos. A projected video of the late founding father Lee Kuan Yew drew warm applause from the house.

If JJ Lin had whipped the crowd into a frenzy, it went ballistic when Stefanie Sun came on stage. The undisputable queen of pop delivered four of her biggest hits in an exquisite arrangement by master composer Ricky Ho.

A finale of five Singapore gems closed the night - Gingerbread's Roses, Shabir's Singai Naadu, Eric Moo's Kopi O, Zubir Said's Semoga Bahagia and Dick Lee's Home. A special Kelly Tang arrangement of Majulah Singapura wrapped up the night, capping more than 70 songs from 50 years performed in the 2½-hour concert and its preceding mass sing-along session.

The guest-of-honour was President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Sing50 is sponsored by Mapletree Investments, Resorts World Sentosa and Zurich Insurance, and produced by The Rice Company Limited.

Alvin Tay, editor of BT and co-chairman of Sing50, said: "We have such a rich legacy of songs that define us as Singaporeans, and they deserve to be celebrated in style. Tonight, 41,000 people of different ages were able to connect with each other and relive moments in their lives through this extraordinary music."