Singapore

New City Harvest Church album tops iTunes chart

New album featuring Ho Yeow Sun draws both criticism and support

Within a day of its soft launch last week, City Harvest Church's (CHC) album, Draw Me, topped Singapore's iTunes album chart.

It is now in second place behind Red Hot Chili Peppers' The Getaway, but ahead of Adele's 25 and local musician Gentle Bones' Geniuses & Thieves.

"Honestly, we were very surprised by the chart performance of this album because that was not on our minds when we produced it," the album's producer, Mr Mark Kwan, told The New Paper.

All 2,000 copies from Draw Me's first print run was sold by last weekend.

The album features CHC's co-founder Ho Yeow Sun in four of its 13 songs, which were written in the past few years - the same period CHC was under scrutiny by the authorities.

Last year, Ms Ho's husband and church co-founder Kong Hee was convicted of misusing $50 million in church funds along with five other church leaders as part of a plot to further Ms Ho's secular music career.

They are appealing against their convictions.

Some netizens mentioned two of Ms Ho's Mandarin albums, which made losses of close to $1 million.

ALBUM SALES

Facebook user Tulip Jan wrote: "Do they seriously expect people to believe people outside this so-called church is buying the music?"

Former church leader Chew Eng Han, one of the six convicted, told TNP: "Sun should have learnt to be more humble now after being exposed in court for participating in the rigging of her own album and singles sales."

But Mr Kwan emphasised that Draw Me is not a "Sun Ho album" but one of the church's collective efforts.

Ms Ho was roped in as she is an "integral part of the worship team", he said.

On concerns that the church is buying up albums to boost sales, Mr Kwan said: "There is no reason for the church to buy up its own albums as chart positions and sales are not chief considerations."

CHC members TNP spoke to also defended the album.

One, who declined to be named, said: "I personally don't get every album the church releases, but this one especially ministers to me."

The 19-year-old student also felt that the lyrics resonate with the church members on the circumstances they have been through.

Another member, Miss Verine Lee, 20, a student, said: "In the eyes of most people, it may not be appropriate for her (Ms Ho) to be in the album. But she's just using her gift from God."

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