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Five stars of Malay music - (from left) Sezairi Sazali, Jeffrydin, Rahimah Rahim, Art Fazil and Ramli Sarip - rehearsing for their segment in Sing50.

Above: Music director Kenn C (in white) supervising young singers Dru Chen and Shigga Shay.

Above: YouTube stars Reuby (left) and Ling Kai rocking it out at the rehearsal.

Singapore's best musicians in one studio

The biggest names in music came together to rehearse for Sing50, an unprecedented celebration of local music.
Jul 24, 2015 5:50 AM

THIS week, a recording studio in Paya Lebar became the epicentre for the biggest names in the history of Singapore music.

At one point, reigning pop queen Stefanie Sun stepped inside to rehearse four of her biggest hits, which have been newly arranged by celebrity composer Ricky Ho.

An hour later, veteran crooners Rahimah Rahim and Rani Singham were singing side by side affectionately like old friends. In the next hour, raspy-voiced rocker Ramli Sarip brought the house down with his classic hit Kamelia.

Any lover of local music would be dazzled by the sheer star wattage at Leo Studio, where more than a dozen established and emerging musicians assembled to rehearse for Sing50.

The Aug 7 concert organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times will see more than four dozen iconic music makers from across five decades performing at the National Stadium in celebration of local music.

JJ Lin, Dick Lee, Jacintha Abisheganaden, Tracy Huang, The Oddfellows, Douglas O and Najip Ali are just a few of the household names appearing on stage. They will be joined by young emerging singers such as Wil Tay, Shigga Shay, Dru Chen, Reuby and Amni Musfirah.

Sun said: "When they approached me, I looked at the stage plans, the scale of the production, the list of artists involved - and I knew this was an ambitious project that I wanted to be part of. More than anything else, it showcases local talents and local music . . . so this is going to be awesome." Sun politely declined to be photographed while rehearsing with music director Kenn C and the band.

Several of the concert segments feature a mix of young and old musicians performing as one. In the rap segment, for instance, Shay, Najip, TheLionCityBoy and Sheikh Haikel are rhyming it out with 15 aspiring rappers as well as The Black Eyed Peas band member

Shay, who's only 23, said: "The idea of so many rappers on stage, rapping in unison, has never been done before. And it's unbelievable that we'll be doing this in front of 45,000 people at the Stadium."

"I'm excited to also be doing the rap segment for Dick Lee's song Rasa Sayang. Dick is someone I've looked up to since I was a kid listening to his Mad Chinaman album. Now, not only do I get to perform with him, I also get to perform his song."

His sentiments are echoed by other young stars rubbing shoulders with giants. Sezairi Sezali, the 28-year-old winner of Singapore Idol 2009, will be performing in the Malay segment alongside Rahimah, Ramli, folk rocker Art Fazil and pop yeh yeh pioneer Jeffrydin.

Sezairi said: "When I was a kid, my mother would be listening to Ramli Sarip on the radio while she was cooking. Today, I stood a metre away from Ramli as he belted out the very song that I know and love, Kamelia. It's unreal, man."

The concert will feature approximately 50 of Singapore's best-loved songs in the past five decades and in all four languages.

Mapletree Investments, Resorts World Sentosa and Zurich Insurance are the main sponsors of the concert, which is directed by Jeremiah Choy, produced by The Rice Company Limited and supported by Steinway Gallery Singapore.

One of the highlights of the concert is the performance of 50 pianists on 50 Steinway-designed baby grand pianos led by the world renowned Lang Lang.

They will be accompanied by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, helmed by Prof Chan Tze Law.

After the concert, the pianos will be adopted by schools which have signalled their commitment to promoting Singapore's musical legacy to their students.

Rahimah, the 59-year-old songstress who'll be singing three classic hits, said: "The younger generation of Singaporeans don't have sufficient appreciation of Singapore's musical roots which are rich and diverse. Sing50 helps redress that."

As part of the Sing50-Mapletree Charity Online Drive, Sing50 tickets are available for a donation of $20 each. Nett proceeds will go to The Business Times Budding Artists Fund and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. Purchase these tickets online at