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  • Writer's pictureStacey Chiew

The Soul Of Stardom

You need to find out what you want in life and follow your heart. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. - Melody Tan

Melody Tan

Melody Tan Yong Xin (陈永馨) rose to fame in the 2014 third season of The Voice of China, a popular Chinese reality television singing competition based on the concept of an American singing competition television series “The Voice”.

She left her mark on the entertainment industries in both China and Malaysia. Despite her petite body, she stunned the judges with her wide vocal range and powerful emotive voice. Melody was picked as one of the top eight finalists.

In fact, her music career happened quite by accident. Because her look resembles the famous Chinese celebrity Cindy Tian Yucheng (田雨橙) and the well-known Korean actress Moon Geun Young (文瑾瑩), her popularity rose sharply in China after taking part in The Voice of China. Fans were captivated by her sweet smile; they could not get enough of her innocent looking pair of eyes!

Born in New Zealand, Melody’s parents returned to Malaysia when she was three. Later, they enrolled her to a Chinese medium primary school that focused on the principles of Confucianism. After graduating from a high school in Malaysia, she furthered her study at a university in New Zealand. In 2012, she received a scholarship from Guangxi Arts University in China. She left New Zealand to Guangxi to pursue a degree in music performance.

During her stay in China, she was an active student and had participated in various singing competitions at school. She won second place in Guangxi Television's reality show “Challenge the Champion” by imitating Christina Aguilera’s voice. Unlike most new singers who would look for well-known record companies to bring their music career to the next level, Melody stepped away from the limelight to concentrate on her education after wining The Voice of China. In 2018, she graduated with a master degree from the same university.

1. Who or what inspired you to join the Voice of China singing competition and pursue a career in music in China?

You have to be ready to act when opportunity knocks. In a way, I would say it was fate that brought me to The Voice of China. It all happened after I won second prize in a singing competition organized by my university. At that time, I was not really into delivering a winning vocal performance; it was more like let's go out there and have fun with others.

I impressed the judges with my performance. One of them contacted a friend of mine to persuade me to join The Voice Of China. So I went for an audition. I ended up as one of the top 8 contestants and the rest is history. To this day, I still can't remember or recall who that judge was. He was the one who helped me get my head in the music industry.

2. What are the challenges you faced while pursuing a singing career in a foreign land?

I would say the courage to find strengths to do the right thing. Staying true to your path in a complex working environment is never easy. But through the ups and downs, you groom good problem-solving skills. Here in China, some record deals can hinder your progress while others support you and share their resources to help you advance your music career. Having said that; it is good to be selective and work with those who match your personality.

I didn’t know much about the music industry in China before I participated in The Voice of China. After the competition, a few TV stations approached me. Long story short, music industry scams are real. I have seen my fair share of the unfair treatments in the music business in China. They came in many forms and in many ways. Having gone through the highs and lows of the music industry, I am wiser now. And yes, I did learn from my mistakes. My past experiences taught me to become more selective in choosing the kind of people to surround myself with. One of the best gifts you could give to yourself is to surround yourself with the best support system you could find.

3. Do you always know that you will be a singer someday?

My parents used to tease me a lot. They said I hum and sang the day I could talk. The truth is, I was shy and quiet in elementary and high school. As far as I could remember, none of my friends heard me sing or hum until I was 14 or 15. As I got older, I realized that I wanted to have a career related to music. I was not sure how this could happen. At the same time, I thought of becoming a teacher too someday. When I was a little girl, my mom said I would arrange my puppets in a row and pretended that I was their teacher. Some funny childhood stories that stay in my parents’ memory for a long time. Now looking back, my past experiences have paved the way to living my dream life today.

4. What is your favourite song?

It is hard for me to pick just one song when there are so many good songs out there. Recently, I enjoyed listening to "Hang On Little Tomato" by Pink Martini. I like the arrangement of the melody and lyrics. When you listen to tunes that move you, you will instantly feel happier. There is healing power in music. It certainly can lift human spirits.

5. What is your current job? Do you still perform regularly in China?

I teach singing at the Guangxi University of Arts, after graduating there. Today, I prefer to keep a low profile and tend to stay out of the limelight. However, I do participate in various TV shows, especially those related to charity events. I want to inspire others to help the poor and the less fortunate. I enjoy doing charity work; I enjoy giving back and I put my best effort into the work. But I can’t volunteer all the time; I need to earn a living too. To make extra income, I taught English on a radio station with my partner for several years; he was also a contestant from The Voice Of China. On top of that, I performed for a variety of live entertainment and hosted travel shows produced by China Central Television (CCTV) and Guangxi TV.

6. What do you consider to be the most important concept for emerging singers?

Concepts derive from ideas. There is no way to say that one concept that helped someone to become famous will help others develop a successful music career as there are many factors that influence an outcome. We must ask the right questions before entering the entertainment industry. For example: What would you be doing right now if it is not for your music career? What makes you tick on a daily basis? What makes your life meaningful?

You need to find out what you want in life and follow your heart. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You need to believe in your vision and take steps to get to the place you envision, be it a career in the music industry or others. If I don’t choose the music industry, most probably I would be a make-up artist or an artist, something that has to do with colours.

7. What is the best advice you’ve been given or received?

Know your self-worth, stay humble, and build confidence in your vocal skills. Someone shared with me an article by David Ackert when I was at the lowest point in my life. His words gave me hope and ignited my inner courage. I would like to share his short article with you. To those who are on the path to become a musician or a singer , I hope these words will give you the strength you need to persevere.

“Singers and Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because musicians and singers are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”

Published in Dreamic Educational Magazine 2020.

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