So last evening, I met up with Lorraine Tan of My Singapore fame!
The singer/song writer/ entrepreneur shared with me a few nuggets of wisdom on pursuing a fulfilling life and chasing amazing dreams.
Lorraine started the My Singapore project in 2011. Each year, it is a celebration of National Day with school children. It was really meant to be a fun project, having fun without having to wait for Government led celebratory campaigns.
Every year, there’s a theme song and a music video done for YouTube. The very first recording was done with 30 kids and 6 videographers, back then there was no charity element to it. It was really just for fun.
The project turned successful and from the 2nd year, charities were adopted. With the help of friends and personal networks, corporate sponsors started turning up. This year, Capitaland’s Hope Foundation sponsored more than $100k, towards their beneficiary The President’s Challenge.
Lorraine, you’re a talented singer and lyricist – all is well for you, but what about me? I wanted to be as successful as her too, pursuing my dreams with as much success as she did!
What was on Lorraine’s mind all these years?
Ben: So when did you discover your singing talents? In the KTV or in the bathroom?
Lorraine: Ha, ha… actually all this while I was just singing! It was the song writing bit that was a discovery. I had a vocal teacher then and he told me about something I didn’t know then – to write music!
When I was in the NTU, there was a song writing competition. My teacher egged me on, so I gave it a go and I won the first prize! My NTU professors were super happy!
Ben: So that was the song that propelled you into a life of music?
Lorraine: I wrote that song on a bus to the airport when I was interning at CAAS! (Back then she was a Civil Engineering student)… so I thought, eh if I can win prize means not bad what!
A lot of people write songs to sell to other artists, but i never sold a single piece of my songs. To me these are my babies, I didn’t want to make them commercial…so I kept them all.
With a large backlog of romantic music, the natural route of progression was to spark a business in wedding songs. Her business “Wedding Harmony” produces bespoke music for weddings. Tell her what type of songs you like… say, a Ricky Martin groove, then tell her your love story and she’ll produce a tailor made piece you can keep for life.
Ben: So how difficult is it to produce a song?
Lorraine: Not easy – you need a whole kampung of people, at least 10 skilled people to make just one song. You’ll have to book studios, record…film… a lot of work!
Ben: So what happened then after winning the prize?
Lorraine: After graduating from Civil Engineering, I did actual engineering work for only one and a half years. But I couldn’t continue it… when i was working, the whole day I was thinking about music! So I went ahead to pursue music! I went to NIE to study post-grad diploma in education, after that i taught physics and music in school.
Whilst teaching, Lorraine set up Wedding Harmony. However, working all through the week was proving too much for her to handle. It was demanding too much of her energy and voice. There had to be choice – was it going to be business, or teaching?
She decided on the route of love songs and entertainment… and the rest was history.
Ben: Ok – so tell me, how do we start doing this dream chasing, passion thing?
Lorraine: To be honest, for me music is a passion – I never approached it with dollars and cents first. If i thought about money everyday i’ll get very emotional about it. i won’t do a good job.
Art is art and business is business – with this mindset, you’ll get by more easily.
It is not as easy as putting a video on YouTube and hoping to be discovered. It is a lot of work – you need many different platforms to grow.
Ben: What if you’re not in your fresh years, your early 20s? What if you’re in your 30s, 40s…even 60s and 70s?
Lorraine: Go and do it! Why not? Age is not a factor – anyway got aesthetics what, who can tell? Ha, ha…
Regardless of age, we should pursue what we want to pursue. At the end of the day, it is not the end point, it is the process that is valuable. Even the 65 year old uncle who wants to learn something new – like real estate for example… he should go, go and learn, go and study. The studying process is very valuable.
A lot of people are disgruntled and angry and jaded because they are not really doing what they want to do. We should encourage people to step out of the box and try!
Ben: …that’s the thing, a lot of people are concerned about Returns On Investment, must have a tangible return anticipated.
Lorraine: If you take away the investment concern, a lot of people will learn a lot easier. You must be very clear in your mind what you want to do. If you want to make lots of money, and you don’t want to use that time to do something you truly love…you’ll could lose out on something.
Her advice is: when you’re young, sacrifice chasing after wealth. But spend more time and money on your dreams. One day the money will come back to you.
Ben: So National Day is coming, what is your message for the Nation?
Lorraine: I wish the nation moments of love! There are moments of love everywhere, everyday every minute. open your eyes, open your heart and you’ll see it!
Lorraine’s concert performs on the 12th of August at The Star Performing Arts Centre.
Watch out also for her music video! There are 3 short stories in the music video, the 3 stories depict different types of love. Theres a love between an Ah-Mah and her handicap son, there’s love between teacher and her students… and then there’s also a friendship kind of love. Very heart warming :)