JERYL LEE never imagined that one day she would be given the opportunity to stand on an international stage to sing her heart out; it just didn’t cross her mind.
Not until she was 12, when she joined Taiwan’s Chinese Million Star singing competition. And she did not stop there.
At the age of 14, she won the Water Cube Singing Contest For Overseas Chinese Teenagers in Beijing, China. But her proudest achievement was when she ranked among the top six finalists of the Sing! China competition TV series when she was 16.
Her ballads impressed many of the music industry’s most sought-after Chinese artistes including Na Ying, Jay Chou, Wang Fei and Harlem Yu.
In an interview with theSun, the now 20-year-old singer let us in on what she has been up to.
Although under quarantine like the rest of Malaysia, Lee’s home studio in Penang has proven conducive to her creative process. She most recently recorded a particularly poignant song, Respect 1,000,000, as a tribute to the frontliners for their hard work, which even touched the heart of Malaysia’s health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
What have you been working on? “I’ve been staying at home while spending time with my family. I’ve also managed to record a few music covers with my friends and learned to cook from my mum. Other times, I’ll try to spend a little time working out at home to stay fit.”
Who are your influences when it comes to music?
“My biggest influence is my mum. Like me, she loves singing too, and she always encourages me to persevere no matter what situation I’m in, or the troubles I face.”
How has the journey been like?
“I think this journey has almost been like a dream to me. To be honest, I still find it hard to believe, simply because when I first joined these competitions and programmes, I didn’t set expectations for myself, nor did I anticipate any reaction. Surprisingly, the responses have been heart-warming.
“I think the moment that I felt like I ‘made it’ was when my parents, friends, fellow professional artistes and even fans approved of my vocal aptitude. And when I appeared on stage at the Beijing National Stadium for Sing! China.”
What do you find most challenging in the music scene?
“The most challenging task would be to constantly challenge myself in any aspect of life. I started singing when I was eight, and I realised I’ve been singing the same type of song all this while. It made me realise the importance of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and to experiment with a different kind of music; I need to surprise the people who have been supporting me.
“[People] do not only wish to hear you sing, they want more than just singing. It has become clear that I need to improve myself by learning how to compose, and even play the piano.”
How do you navigate through social media? “I like how easily I’m able to stay in touch with my fans, particularly via Instagram. It has also become a platform to release new songs and covers to stay connected with my fans and interact with them.
“Being on social media is how I keep myself up to date with the latest news and be informed about what’s happening. It’s also the place where I do my research and find inspiration for my studies.”
What are the best and worst messages you’ve received on social media?
“I’ve received so many amazing messages, that I’ve forgotten the bad ones. Oftentimes, my fans would direct message (DM) me on Instagram to let me know how they felt encouraged and motivated because of me.
“As for any unkind words, I’ll just ignore them.”
Have you always envisioned yourself to be where you are today?
“Never, I just went with the flow. I’m really grateful to be surrounded by all the people who have encouraged me and supported me throughout this journey. They’ve shaped me tremendously to be who I am today.”