S’pore girl at heart
Janice Yan, winner of Taiwan singing contest One Million Star – Star Legend, has lived in various East Asian cities and is now studying in the US, but Singapore is where her heart is
By Kwok Kar Peng
November 02, 2010
SINGER Janice Yan was born in Beijing, lives in Hong Kong and now studies in Boston.
But she still holds a Singapore passport, although she hasn’t been back here since 2007. She said Singapore is still the place she considers home.
Yan, 20, is the winner of popular Taiwanese singing competition One Million Star – Star Legend, which ended in August.
One Million Star is into its seventh season and has unearthed rising stars like Yoga Lin, Jam Hsiao, Aska Yang and Lala Hsu.
Star Legend, which was launched after Season 6, is a spin-off that features worthy contestants from previous seasons.
Yan appeared in Season 6 as one of several challengers pitted against the actual contestants in what are called the player-killing (PK) sessions. She beat the contestants in all the five PK sessions she was in.
She was eventually nicknamed Yan Luo Wang, which means the King of Hell.
TOP PRIZE: Janice Yan receiving her prize for winning the competition One Million Star – Star Legend.
PICTURES: GIN STAR ENTERTAINMENT, SUN FESTIVAL
She was later invited to join Star Legend, where she came out tops.
Yan won NT$1 million (S$42,000) in cash. She said she gave the programme crew a treat, donated part of the winnings to charity and used the rest to pay her tuition fees.
Yan’s family migrated to Singapore when she was three years old.
She went to Kinderland Kindergarten and later studied at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary).
Her father, Yan Hui Chang, was a conductor with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and was awarded a Cultural Medallion in 2001.
He moved to Hong Kong to work when she was seven, and she joined him when she was 11.
Despite having been away from Singapore for so long, she said she still knows the pledge and national anthem ‘by heart’.
She also listens to Kit Chan’s Home ‘ever so often’, said Yan in an e-mail interview with The New Paper from Boston.
The singer, who speaks English, Mandarin and Cantonese fluently, added: ‘I miss the cleanliness, the kopitiam, laksa and nasi lemak, and the place as a whole.’
She hopes to return soon for a visit and still keeps in touch with some family friends here.
‘I truly miss the place, the food and the people. Seeing all the developments in the city these few years is really exciting,’ she said.
Her strongest memories of Singapore are Clarke Quay, Orchard Road, Sentosa ‘and the amazing view of HDB flats every National Day, since almost every household hangs the Singapore flag outside the window’.
Her multi-city lifestyle may seem glamorous but Yan admitted that it has caused much confusion – even on the set of Star Legend.
She said: ‘People often ask me where I’m from but I don’t know how to reply.
‘When I was in Singapore, people said I’m from China. When I was in Hong Kong, people there said I’m Singaporean. In the US, I’m Chinese.
‘I can’t seem to fit in anywhere.’
In an interview with popular Taiwanese TV host Matilda Tao for the website Women, she said the globe-trotting life can be a lonely one.
She added that she is envious of people who have childhood friends and wished she had pals with whom she grew up.
Her longest friendships – of six years, to date – are with her buddies in Hong Kong.
Yan claimed she was bullied by her schoolmates in Singapore because none of her family members spoke English.
She said she was very quiet in school and would cry alone after being bullied.
‘People think I look very tough, but, in my view, if I don’t appear so, I would be bullied,’ said the singer.
She said she is a shy person, a trait she attributed to her Singaporean upbringing because students here have to ‘follow rules and be obedient’.
‘When I joined Star Legend, I often sat alone. People probably thought I was unapproachable.’
Yan described herself as someone who is not confident and admitted she often doubted her vocal abilities. So, getting recognition for her performances means a lot to her.
She added that she still needs to improve her singing abilities.
To take part in Star Legend, Yan postponed her studies at Boston University for half a year and moved to Taipei.
She said the constant pressure of the competition and being in a foreign country without friends and family forced her to grow up quickly.
Studies less stressful
She added: ‘It was quite a drastic change from being a simple college student, when the stress comes almost entirely from exams and academics.’
She returned to Boston in September to resume her studies as a third-year economics major when Star Legend ended.
School, she said, is less stressful than the singing contest.
Said Yan: ‘Some of my friends are aware of the competition, but they don’t make it a topic among us.
‘It definitely feels great to dress down, carry a backpack and attend lectures.
‘Everything’s more down to earth and things just feel a lot less stressful…the stress from exams can’t compare with that from the competition.’
Despite her growing popularity – she has around 115,000 fans following her on Facebook – Yan has no intention of giving up her studies to pursue a career in music.
‘I love school. I personally think that the four years of college are going to be the best years of my life,’ she said, adding that what she can learn from school and her peers is priceless.
She has no plans to release an album and hasn’t thought about what she would do after graduation, choosing instead to take things as they come.
‘I’m starting to think that planning way ahead of time may not be the best move since my plans will never catch up with how fast things around me keep changing.’