Inspiring Young Hearts Through Music

Courtesy of Sarah Cheng-De Winne

Calling youths and young adults aged 18 to 25! Singer-songwriter Sarah Cheng-De Winne wants to inspire you with her music.

Winner of the US-based 12th Independent Music Awards and former 938LIVE Radio DJ, Sarah is currently producing her fourth recording project. Titled CANDLE, the bilingual extended play album showcases her luxuriantly soulful vocals in a blend of original soul-pop tunes with electro-retro influences and harmonies.

Sarah Cheng-De Winne teaming up with Nathan Hartono

The album will have a mix of songs in Mandarin (Ai De En Dian, Wo Xu Yao Ni), English (Higher, Quiet Place), as well as both (Candle, To Where You Are). It was produced with the help of arranger Adam Lee (Tanya Chua, Stefanie Sun), Taiwanese vocal producer Mah Yu Fen (producer for A-mei’s hit, Ting Hai), and Chinese lyric powerhouse Zhang Si’er (JJ Lin, Harlem Yu).

Mandarin music video "Te Bie De Ren"

To bring these songs to life through recordings and videos, Sarah and her team is seeking to raise at least US$20,000 through Indiegogo’s online crowdfunding platform. To date, she has successful raised US$8,675, with about a month to go. Like other independent artistes, Sarah shares her passion in music through various social media platforms: website and blog, Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter and Instagram.

What I found especially unique about Sarah is her gutsy "can-do" attitude and resilience while undergoing major convulsing changes in life. A teenage mother who managed to overcome the odds and raise a loving young family with her husband Mark, Sarah also survived a near-death car accident during the production of her previous album Brand New in 2012. Through her music and life story, she hopes to inspire Asian youths to "hope for the future" and "press on in the face of life's challenges".

Quoting Sarah:

“It takes changemakers to create new changemakers. We can inspire the next generation of youths to live their dreams with positive, soulful music. You can be a changemaker too. Together, we'll create uniquely bilingual music to impact youths in Singapore, Taiwan, China and all across Asia.”

Imagine surviving this? (courtesy of Sarah Cheng-De Winne)

Join me now as I interviewed Sarah on her professional and personal journey.

1) How has your journey as a recording artiste, performer and singer-songwriter been like thus far?

It's been a journey full of surprises, but despite the difficulties involved, I must say that I am blessed to have the chance to use music to make a difference. Every time I face a challenge, I give thanks instead for the amazing opportunities that I have already been given, and look ahead to how I can continue to make more music and give more than what I've been given.

2) What prompted you to start this Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign?

I was inspired by how a few other Singaporean artists have successfully raised USD10,000 or more for their album recording or video projects. They include Inch Chua, Bevlyn Khoo, Sam Willows, Monster Cat and Alarice. I was also intrigued by how former major label artists have turned to crowdfunding as a way to sustainably create new music for fans.

Having said that, my aims with the Indiegogo campaign have evolved since the launch. I am no longer so concerned with the actual funds garnered, as opposed to what I'm learning through this crowdfunding exercise. What it means to create a vision that can be shared by many, and to inspire others to make music and dream together. It's really been a huge eye-opener and I'm grateful for the support I've received - and continue to - on a daily basis.

3) Can you describe the inspiration behind the various songs in the album?

The title of the album, CANDLE, refers to the overall theme of light. Light has been a significant metaphor to me, because in the last couple of years, I have been through some intense moments including surviving a major car accident, and my dream is to bring hope to others through my songs.

One of the songs Ai De En Dian talks about how my grandmother's love has been a light for my life, no matter how far apart I am from her. Another song, To Where You Are, talks about the desire to really love someone and be close to them despite the distance. This was partially inspired by my own long-distance relationship with my husband, who was away for almost a year doing his masters during the time I wrote the song.

4) Who are the heroes in your life? What made them so special and significant?

Major heroes... wow too many to count!

But firstly, it would be my parents - who always see me through difficult times and love me despite my mistakes. Also my husband Mark De Winne, who has been critical in giving me constructive feedback on my songs even before I take them to the producers... and designing most of my publicity collaterals! Many friends, just like you, Walter, who have been supporting my vision through spreading the word about the Indiegogo campaign, and given moral and practical support over the years. Last but definitely not least, God, in whom I put my ultimate hope and trust!

5) What is your long-term goal and vision? Where do you hope to see yourself in the future and what "dent in the Universe" do you hope to achieve?

My vision is to bring Singaporean music to the global stage, be it the global Chinese music market, or even to the international English market. That may not mean my own music - but maybe to pave the way for other musicians after me to succeed on a global scale. While the deepest desire of my heart is to use my music and voice to inspire as many people as possible, I'm learning to be content with what I have been given, and be faithful in the small things first.

I'm also learning that it is no use to have all the success in the world if I don't have love in my life. I would like to leave a legacy through the way I live my life, rather than what I live life as. I hope to at least have made a deep impact to a few close friends whom I am able to support through their most difficult times. Of course, music will always be close to my heart, but I hope never to forget the importance of building deep and long-lasting relationships.

5) Are there any takeaways which you wish to share with other aspiring artistes?

Actually, I am planning to hopefully mentor other aspiring artistes in the year 2015!

One key thing I would like to share is: finding your voice will take time, so be patient with yourself. Also, learning new things and improving yourself is key, so continually improve your skills as a musician and songwriter as much as you can.

Finally, stay humble. That's sometimes difficult when small successes come your way. But that's the real test of your character - how do you react when you are praised? One way is to always keep in mind that being an artiste is never a solo journey. We are surrounded by musicians, sound engineers, graphic designers, videographers, arrangers, publicists.. the list goes on. Personally, I would be nothing without their contributions and talent! :)

CANDLE will be released digitally on iTunes (streaming services to follow within a month of release) with a series of 3 music videos released through YouTube, and limited edition CDs. It is targeted to be launched in Dec 2014. 

Contribute to Sarah's Indiegogo campaign and find out more about her album CANDLE here.

Contribute USD20 and attend Sarah's live concert! Details here.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,