Singapore

Young artists to inspire Singaporeans with their own songs at NDP

This year's National Day Parade (NDP) will feature several young artists who want to inspire Singaporeans through songs they have composed.

One of them is 28-year-old Tosh Zhang, who drew inspiration from how his family was affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

"I was seven years old then and I hardly saw my parents because they had to hold multiple jobs," said Zhang, who is known for starring in Jack Neo's Ah Boys To Men movie series.

When the crisis hit, Zhang's father was a drinks seller at a school canteen, while his mother was running two bookshops.

For two years, Zhang said his father had to work as a sweet distributor and taxi driver, while his mother, who lost her bookshops, sold bubble tea and worked as a part-time receptionist.

Zhang drew from that experience to compose his rap piece titled Here We Are.

He will be performing it during the act Thriving Together, while accompanied by around 30 parkour dancers. The rap contains phrases in Singapore's four national languages.

Zhang said he sees parallels between the situation in 1997 and the current job environment and hopes his music will motivate others.

"I wrote this song right now to encourage and push people on through the hard times because we came from a time when we had no opportunities, when nobody thought we could make it and we made it this far," he said.

Aspiring singer-songwriter Wong Siya, 16, said she was inspired by her peers when she wrote Together We Will Believe. "Sometimes, because we are young, we are unsure if we can contribute to the country. But I hope to tell young people that you just have to believe in yourself," said the Cedar Girls' Secondary School student.

It took her about three days last year to write the song and she continued to make tweaks after receiving feedback from people, such as her music teacher.

She submitted her composition to be considered for the NDP theme song. Although it was not chosen, she was invited to perform it in the pre-parade segment, which she said is a "great honour".

She said she has dreamt of performing on a huge stage since she was 11 years old. Back then, she sang on stage only in school with the school choir.

Now her dream has come true.

She said of the preview show on July 29: "I never imagined I would be singing my own song in front of close to 25,000 people. It was surreal."

national daynational day paradeTosh Zhang