Corrinne's Musings - A singer-songwriter's life.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Friday, August 10, 2007

My first 'Live' National Day Parade in Singapore

It was fascinating to watch my first 'live' National Day Parade
in Singapore, to see first hand, what I'd previously only watched on TV.

Since we were encouraged in dress in red and white,
I borrowed a red kebaya top from my mum and Kavin
fished out the red t-shirt he had in his suitcase.

On my way to NDP 07

Kavin and I, clutching our tickets, glistening from the
afternoon heat and humidity, walked with the throng of people
from Raffles City through the security checkpoints
and metal detectors and finally reached what has been touted
as the world's largest floating stage.

We were given goodie bags before entering the seating gallery.
Kavin got an orange bag and I got a red one and somewhere behind us,
a lady officer of the army was yelling at
people not to be picky about which colour of bag they received.
(besides red and orange, the bags also came in green, purple and yellow.)

We got seated in the yellow zone, and started examining our goodie bags.
Flashing star-shaped light, corn snacks flavoured in sour cream,
mini battery operated fan, cd of national day songs....

Singapore skyline on a humid afternoon

Having fun with the items in our goodie bag

The crowd cheerer chicken

The pre-show started soon after we got seated and familiar songs
began playing from the sound system, accompanied by various singers
and dancers jiving along.

'Chan Mali Chan', 'Five Stars Arising'...a whole medley
of old Singapore community songs that I last sang in Primary school.
It was a nice nostalgic moment.

Red lions parachuting from the sky

The parade portion was nice and it was stirring to see
the marching contingents, and to watch the parade commander
shouting commands to the contingents. And as he shouted the commands,
I couldn't help chiming along to the familiar commands
learnt from my NCC days "Dari Kiri Cepat Jalan!"

It was thrilling to see the Red Lions parachuting from the sky
and the 5 point plane formation and the various military aircraft
that flew pass. Kavin was pretty thrilled to see the military display
and started rattling off their names "That's an Apache!".

Plane formation in the skies

As the Singapore flag was flown past, hoisted by a couple of helicopters,
everyone started singing the 'Majullah Singapura' and it was nice to
be able to sing along. It reminded me of all those school day mornings,
with fellow students gathered on the parade ground of the school, singing
the national anthem and reciting the pledge.

Even Kavin, who's Malaysian, got into the swing of things
and enjoyed his first parade experience in Singapore.

Kavin and the flag

Showing off my mum's red kebaya

'Jellyfish' in the harbour

The final parade formation

Beautiful skyline at night.

Everyone stands at attention for the pledge

End of parade. See ya!

After the parade, we walked towards Raffles Plaza,
and we got caught in a huge 'people jam' at the citylink underpass.
There was just no getting through, and at one point in time,
everyone was absolutely squashed like sardines and no one moved an inch.

So we decided to exit the crowd by stopping at a Japanese restaurant
nearby. Famished, we tucked into dinner. yum.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A trip back in time - Taking the train from Seremban back to Singapore.

We left Seremban on Tuesday evening, the 7th of August
at 11.30 p.m and took the night train
back to Singapore.

Kavin and I had booked the dual bed
cabin and I took the top bunk while he
took the bottom bunk.

A steward soon came by to take our orders
for supper and came back a few minutes
later with a pack of mee goreng, a pack
of nasi goreng, a hot cup of Milo and
a bottle of water.

The rest of the train trip was smooth enough
and Kavin spent the time reading his book
while I went to sleep.

The next thing we knew, it was 6.20 a.m
and a voice over the sound system announced
in Malay that we were approaching the Johor-
Singapore border and that the customs officers
would soon be checking our passports.

Once this was done, the train continued onwards
towards Singapore.

We went across the causeway, side-by-side with
the huge water pipes that carried water
from Malaysia to Singapore.

Water pipes carrying water from Malaysia-Singapore
as the sun rises.

Once we reached Singapore, we stopped
for a half-hour to clear the Singapore
customs and immigration, then
it was off again, back into the train.

I loved just standing by the window,
watching the scenery go by as the train
chugged along a route that unlike
most of Singapore, had remained
relatively unchanged through the decades.

It felt like taking a trip back in time.

The juxtaposition of wooden huts, with
chickens running wild along the railway
line and the tall HDB flats in the background
stirred something in my heart.

The sense of the old against the new,
the laidback against the busy,
the past against the future.

Natural 'longkang' flowing along the train tracks in Singapore

Chickens running wild!

I was surprised too to see that the old
Bukit Timah/ Woodlands train station
was still there, with people resting
on the wooden benches, even though
the train did not stop there.
It looked as if a page from history
had just come alive in front of my eyes,
and the only people that seemed to
share the joy of my discovery were a couple
of Caucasian tourists that I saw wandering
along the pathway close to the railway line,
exploring the last frontier of old Singapore.

The train ran past my former school, RJC,
and memories from that era in my life
flooded back for a moment.

Then it rounded a curve and ran
alongside the Ayer Rajah Expressway
for a while...the modern cars,
running past this train, this older mode of transportation...
juxtaposed against the new.

everyone stops to let the most senior form of transportation through.

Then it soon drew closer to its final
destination, Tanjong Pagar railway station.
And as the train approached the station,
I saw the guardhouse, unchanged from of old,
as it bore the signage for 'Singapura',

An old guardhouse still bearing the name 'Singapura'

The train from the front.

Pics of the railway station, the building mostly unchanged since it
was built in 1932.

In the midst of all the physical transformation
that Singapore has gone through, it was
heartwarming for me to know, that at least
a bit of the old Singapore was still a reality,
for this moment. In the midst of bewildering
changes, like the demolition of the National Library
and the tearing down of old buildings,
it felt good to know that some part of Singapore's
history is still there within reach.

It is the yearning for the familiar, the sense
of one's home, perhaps a yearning for physical
roots that sometimes tugs at my heartstrings.
If someone like me in my 30's feels this way,
I can only imagine how bewildering the lightning-
fast changes must be for people in my grandparent's

I like listening to my grandma telling me stories
of the Singapore she grew up in, the one
where she had to take care of the pigs and chickens
in the yard, the one where grandpa and her bicycled
through the streets of Singapore on their dates,
the one where ten cents would buy a good meal.

I like knowing how something came to be.
For in knowing one's roots, and one's history,
I feel that I can hold on to the strength that
comes from that sturdiness in the soil, and know
that whereever the branches may grow, there
is a common history, a common sense of family,
a shared sense of space and time.

A place I can call home.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Time slows in Seremban, Malaysia

We've spent the past few days after the completion
of the 'Beautiful Seed' concert, here at Kavin's
parent's house in Seremban, Malaysia.
It's been a good relaxing time...quite a
good change from the busy schedule we've had
for the past month or so.

In the quiet, slow-paced, rural-like atmosphere
where time seems to be tip-toeing along,
it feels like we can finally breathe.

We've eaten our fill of favourites like
the Liang Ji Noodle stall where we've downed
at least three servings of wanton char siew mee
and we've had a serving of the famous fish ball

And this morning, we headed to the Ya Zhou Laksa
stall where Kavin and his parents had their favourite
laksa, whilst I had the Lo Shu Fen with a bit of
minced meat and a piece of chicken.

Kavin's Mum and Dad


The Laksa Stall

Preparing cups of teh

It's such a change from the busy, ever-changing
pace of Singapore. Here in Seremban, the same
food stalls that Kavin grew up with are still in the
same spot, now taken over by the sons or daughters
of the original owners.

The roads have remained mainly unchanged.
There is an air of tranquility amidst it all.

Dragonfruit growing in Kavin's parent's garden

The Malaysian house cat

Beautiful Seed Concert - The Day's Events.

More pics coming soon....

[Friday, 3rd August 2007]

The day of the show. Had a good breakfast
at the hotel's breakfast buffet, then
headed downstairs to Yakun where I got a cup of
teh and a cup of hot water and sat down to look
through my songlist and my song introductions for the
concert in the evening.

I then stopped by the foodcourt to buy some duck rice
to take with me to the UCC hall, so that I'd have something
to eat before the concert.

Mr. Ho the driver from NUS picked us up around
12.20 p.m and we headed over to the NUS UCC hall for
our final show run-through and rehearsal

We ran through all the songs with the band and the
strings and only got done with the rehearsal at 4.30 p.m

By that time, I was starving and glad to finally be able
to eat that duck rice I'd bought earlier.

Ernest Lim came by a little later at about 5.20 p.m and
we got started with the hair and make-up. By the time
he was done with my make-up and hair it was about 7 p.m

After getting dressed, the band, Kavin and I gathered
around to say a group prayer. Kenn led the prayer and Josh
and I added our prayers as well.

After that we all walked to the backstage and waited
for our time to go on stage.

While the rest of the band chatted while waiting to
go on stage, I found a side entrance to a stair-well where
I could have some alone time, to pray. It was good
and calmed my nerves.

The hall was almost full and by 8.10 p.m
the band walked out on stage. First, Kavin and the string
players, then the rest of the band members,
and finally I walked out on stage.

It was lovely to hear the applause from the 1700 strong
audience and whatever anxiety I had quickly evaporated as
I focused on giving the audience the best performance I could.

Set list for 1st half of concert :

Angel In Disguise
On The Side Of Me
Everything in its Time
Fly Away
On My Way

It was so heartwarming to look out to the audience,
and to see the individual faces, smiling along, as they
listened to each song.

Then we took a short break for the 15 minute intermission.

I toyed around with the idea of changing to my gown
for the second set, but decided against it as the temperature of the
hall was a little cold and I was sure that I would be
shivering if I changed to the gown. Besides, I didn't have
much time before the second set began.

It was soon time to go back on stage again
and I walked out and started playing Love Song for #1.
It was so nice to just sing for the audience there, just
me, the song and the piano.

Then, the rest of the band and strings joined me on stage
and we went into the rest of the songs:

Song list for 2nd set of the concert :

Love Song for #1
City of Angels
Green-Eyed Monster
My Little Nephew
Slow Down
Five Loaves and Two Fishes
Beautiful Seed

After the end of the second set, the band and I walked
off stage. Thankfully, the audience applause brought
us back for an encore :)

Encore songs

Little Superhero Girl
Save Me

After thanking Karen Loh, Daniel (Front of house sound),
Eugene (stage sound)and Roy (lighting) and the band,
Joshua Wan (bass), Kenn Chua (guitars),Wen Ming Soh (drums),
Reggie Pereira and Kavin (music director, string conductor)
and the lovely fans who were there,
I went backstage to have a bit of quiet, alone time
before Karen came by to usher me to the post-show reception.

I was delighted to see Papa, Mummy, Mama (my grandmother)
and also my Hoo family there and we gave each other
quick hugs and hellos. I said a quick hi to Benson and Margeret
as well before heading down to sign autographs for the fans
who had started to form a long queue.

We started the autograph session at 10.30 p.m and it was great
to meet the fans who had come.
I recognised the first one who was in line immediately.
"Angelina!" I said, "you managed to be first in line again" :)
And there together with her were her mother, her brother Paul
and her friend, Angeline.

Phebe and Raymond were there too and it was nice to see them again.
Shuling also came with her new boyfriend and it was nice
to see them both. Timothy came by and told me that Sean would
be graduating soon from his Australian university soon and asked
if I could write a little note to him.
I remembered Sean who came for the Christmas concert
and was glad to have the opportunity to write him a note.

Francia brought along her classical guitar for a signature.
Someone convinced me to sign her tummy(!) So I did a little squiggle.
Another fan Adorra came by screaming 'Corrinne May, HI!!!!',
so I shouted back, 'Hi!' and she was quite amused :)

There were students from NUS, students from JC, couples who
shyly said that they were on a date, families and kids...
it was so nice to see the diversity of people there and
I was glad to meet them all.

By the time the autograph session was over, it was close to 3 a.m
I can't believe that I was there for 4 hours.
I broke my own record for continuous signing and photo-taking
and chatting, surviving on two cups of Milo and a whole lot of adrenaline :)

Poor Mr. Ho, the driver had to wait for us to finish up to
send us back to the hotel.
By the time we left the NUS UCC hall, it was close to 3.15 a.m
and we got back to the hotel at about 3.35 a.m

There wasn't much open left in terms of food places we could get to,
so I was pretty grateful that a couple of fans had given me five pieces
of roti prata and two fishes:)
(They had heard me saying during my song intro for
'Five Loaves and Two Fishes' that if the miracle had happened
in Singapore, it would have been called
'Five Roti Prata and Two Otak-Otak'
So I was both amused and delighted to get the prata to eat :)
During the autograph session, another fan Rachael also gave me
a loaf of bread and a can of tuna :)

We also had some food packed from the post-concert reception,
so Kavin and I, ravenous at the end of a long day,
dug into all the food when we got back to the hotel.
I was exhausted after that and fell asleep on the sofa
waking up a couple of hours later, and eventually making my way to bed...

All in all, a wonderful day.
To any of my fans who came for the concert and are reading this blog,
I just want to thank you for being there. I had a wonderful time and
I hope you did too :)

Below are some of the pictures that some fans sent me after the concert.
I'll upload my own photos once I get them :)

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Prelude to 'Beautiful Seed' Concert Part 2

[Tuesday, 31st July 2007, 7-10 p.m]

It was great to meet the string players again.
Max and Aloysius, Jit Min, Bing Ling, Rosalind, Wei Ming,
Olivia Guo were there.

We rehearsed all the songs that had string parts in them.
And the rehearsal went well.

[Wednesday, 1st August 2007]

Thank goodness Lionel, the stylist was free this morning
to help me pick out some clothes.
We had a bit of teh, food at the kopitiam upstairs
before picking out some clothes from BCBG Max Mara at
Wisma Atria for the concert.

We ended up picking out three outfits just in case I needed
them. A pear green flouncy, strappy top, a fitted black top with
flowy sleeves and finally a black dress-like top with strappy
ribbons to tie around the back.

I then rushed back to Raffles City where we met for
lunch with Ee Ee Rosalind, Ee Ee Elizabeth, Uncle Dominic,
Ee Ee Monica and Papa at Din Tai Fung. Lunch ran from
12.30 - 1.20 p.m and it was great to catch up with my aunties

Then uncle Patrick Ho, the NUS driver picked us up and
sent us to the UCC Hall at NUS where we had a band rehearsal
from 2 p.m to 6 p.m
And then the string players came to join us for a full rehearsal
from 7-10 p.m. By the end of the day, I was so tired and
just glad to get back to the hotel to rest.

[Thursday, 2nd August 2007]

Today was supposed to be a rest day, but we
ended up having a couple of interviews to do.

The first was an interview for the Front TV show from
Arts Central channel. I met with the TV crew at the Ink Bar
downstairs at Raffles the Plaza from 4 p.m - 5 p.m
where Yin conducted the interview.

The interview went well and I also had a nice time
meeting with the staff from the Ink Bar.

After this, Evelyn, (who is helping with promotions on this album)
and I left to go to Mediacorp where I would co-host from 6-8 p.m
with DJ Shan Wee of 98.7 FM.

Shan was a pleasure to work with and I was surprised to know that
he had been in Singapore for just a little over 2 years and that
he spent most of his life in Ireland. We swapped stories about
living overseas away from family and also talked about the music
we liked.

He convinced me to do a 'Corrinne May sings the classics' segment
where he got me singing to rap lyrics! We both cracked up at
how funny it sounded and I thought he was pretty creative for
coming up with the angle. It was also pretty fun to do an
acoustic version of the chorus to Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'!
Fun :)

Altogether, a good time hosting with Shan and on the programme,
we also played 'Shelter', 'Leaving' and 'On The Side of Me' from
the 'Beautiful Seed' album.

After the show ended, I headed back home, but
not before stopping by Holland Village to Da Bao a pack
of Chicken horfun for dinner.

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