SINGAPORE – Seventeen-year-old Raine Chiew used to write only English songs, but she tried her hand at writing songs in Chinese this year at the urging of her teacher at the School of the Arts, Singapore (Sota).
On Tuesday (Dec 7), her song about feeling torn about leaving home to chase her dreams clinched her the grand prize in the open songwriting category in Singapore’s national Chinese singing and songwriting competition for students.
She also won the top prize in the solo singing category.
The annual “Xin Kong Xia” National Schools Xinyao Singing and Songwriting Competition aims to promote awareness and appreciation of xinyao, or local Chinese music culture, as well as to ignite students’ love for learning the Chinese language.
The grand finals of the competition returned in-person in September, after going virtual in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The xinyao competition drew more than 200 entries, from 250 student participants from 40 schools. The winners were picked by music industry veterans.
On Tuesday, a total of 30 prizes were announced across five categories for 40 students at a virtual award ceremony.
For her song “My dreams are in the distance but my heart is with my home”, Raine walked home with $1,500.
The songstress, who intends to study abroad despite the heartbreak depicted in her song of having to leave home, said: “I hope that my song will be able to help others going through similar issues feel less alone.”
The creative songwriting category winner was Lee Jia Min, a 17-year-old student from Hwa Chong Institution, whose song Kopi-O touched on the sentimental appeal of old-school coffee shops. She, too, won $1,500.
This year’s competition was jointly organised by the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning, Jurong Pioneer Junior College, Lianhe Zaobao and music recording studio TCR Music Station.
In her opening speech at the awards ceremony, Minister of State for Education Sun Xue Ling said she hoped that through students’ creative efforts in singing and writing xinyao songs, local students would preserve the local culture of singing xinyao.
She added: “I hope that all of you will continue to write Chinese songs, learn Chinese well and fall in love with Chinese!”
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