It is no surprise that the youth of tomorrow are shaping the world we live in today. From a seemingly-endless burst of exuberance to a nuanced perspective on topics that are dear to their hearts, young people today are expressing their minds and hearts in ways never seen before, regardless of medium.
That is why youth talent is increasingly important to celebrate. This Youth Month, the SHINE Festival returns with a recharged three-day festival weekend from Jul 10-12. Being the annual high-point celebration of youth talents nation-wide, SHINE returns for its tenth anniversary as the biggest one yet on the Orchard Belt.
Organised by the National Youth Council, the festival is expected to focus mainly on the stretch between ION Orchard, Mandarin Gallery, Cineleisure and *SCAPE and includes an Orchard Road closure programme. The high-points are all part of this year’s theme, “Build Your World” which is focused on building identity, connections and the world at large.
Part of the fun of building something new is discovering new things and sources. Five emerging acts from Singapore and beyond this year prove that talent knows no bounds. In the music and dance sectors, these talents strive to go above and beyond.
1) Séan Garnier
Arnaud “Séan” Garnier went from displaying his freestyle football skills on the streets of Paris to nabbing the title of World Football Freestyle Champion in the span of two years. Not bad, for someone who could not make the cut to be a professional football player due to injuries.
As he was training to be a coach post-injury, it was his side hustle of urban freestyle football that gained him widespread fame. Forming his own S3 Crew, he is now a Red Bull-sponsored athlete as he travels around the world to inspire others with his talent.
With over 771,000 likes on Facebook and a video of him duelling with the Portugal futsal team garnering over 3 million views on YouTube, Garnier’s skills have found a place on the Internet but it is his flair for the art of football and the fun of the game that evokes laughs wherever he plays at.
2) ShiGGa Shay
The meteoric rise of rapper Pek Jin Shen aka ShiGGa Shay is undeniably one of the biggest success stories in the Singapore music industry. Social media had a part to play in it, but ShiGGa’s been around the gig circuit enough for one to recognise the sheer grit that has gone into his craft.
From his 2008 single Mama Told Me to recent hits like LimPeh and ShiGGa Morning, the rapper has always stayed authentic with his lyrics and flow. A graduate of Singapore Armed Forces’ Music and Drama Company, ShiGGa himself has assisted in representing upcoming talents by launching his collective Grizzle Grind Crew and production counterparts Grizzle Films and Grizzle Sounds.
His talent is matched by his popularity: more than 21,400 followers listen to his every word on Twitter. ShiGGa is proof that if you work extra hard at it, the hustle will pay off in due time.
3) Arden Cho
Call her the Teen Wolf girl, but US-based Arden Cho, 29, is more than just a pretty face on the television.
A model, actress and singer, Cho’s star rocketed on social media, with over 439,000 followers on Twitter and 251,000 subscribers on YouTube. Her covers have racked hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube and so have her originals. It led to her EP, My True Happy, being released in 2013 to commercial acclaim.
In an interview with Popspoken, Cho said that she first started out acting, but it was a timely break from the constant auditions and rejections in the acting world to focus on music and YouTube that made everything come full circle.
“Oddly enough, taking a break from acting and working on music helped build my confidence, which in turn, reminded me how much I loved performing. I think I grew a lot in that time as an artist/performer as well,” said Cho.
Cho tells us that the Teen Wolf producers had no idea about her YouTube career and that she booked the role like how any other actor would – auditions, callbacks and the chemistry read with lead actor Tyler Posey. Her confidence shone through, which is a result of believing in herself after years of being bullied because of her race.
“If I could turn back time, I would have stood up for myself or at the very least, confidently walked away instead of taking it all. I was always really insecure and just sunk into an invisible hole, believing whatever I was told. I wish I had someone to pick me up and help me find the confidence to know that bullies can’t define who I am,” she said.
“Ultimately, you may not be able to love those that bully you, but if you remember to appreciate yourself and keep love in your heart, that light will shine brighter than anything that gets in your way; it may be hard to see on day one, but it will show, in time.”
Because of that, she is unfazed by bullies on her YouTube comments and that “I started realizing that it was no different than being bullied, and bullies don’t deserve the satisfaction of us giving into their negativity.”
When she is not busy with her various gigs, Cho unplugs from social media for a week about once a year to “read a book, hang with my friends, and just live in the moment”, saying that people should power off more often because “you miss out on so many amazing moments happening right in front of your eyes”.
She may now be mostly known for her recurring role as Kira Yukimura on US hit television show Teen Wolf, but make no mistake about it: Arden’s diverse range of talents and social media savviness make her more than just a flash-in-the-pan.
4) Asia Monet Ray
Anyone who has watched Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition on television would be familiar with the face of one of its youngest contestants: now 9-year-old Asia whose moves could rival counterparts twice her age.
After joining the cast of Dance Moms in Season 3, Asia’s personality proved a hit with audiences, leading TV channel Lifetime to create a reality show just for her. “Raising Asia” follows the petite dancer in her journey as singer and dancer.
Besides branching out into singing, she has also done filming stints in movie Sister Code and TV show American Crime Story. But if her fiery dance videos on YouTube are any indication, Asia will not probably not let go of her first love.
5) Gentle Bones
What else can we say about on of Singapore’s proudest talents other than “we saw it coming”?
The folk singer-songwriter’s first single Until We Die caused ripples across the Internet with Gentle Bones’ honest delivery and intriguing video. It was quickly followed with a succession of singles and a spot in the roster for the annual New Year’s Eve countdown concert on free-to-air MediaCorp Channel 5. His self-titled debut EP charted at #1 on the iTunes Singapore chart.
His widespread critical acclaim has led him to be the first Singapore act signed to Universal Music Singapore’s imprint with a 360-degree deal that encompasses publishing and recording rights, plus events and endorsements.
And to think it all started from an ingenious music video on YouTube.
Catch Séan Garnier, ShiGGa Shay and Arden Cho at the SHINE Festival. Visit the website for more information, including a chance for you to meet your favourite artistes up-close and personal at the festival.
This is a sponsored post.
Featured photo: John Park