Forgoing a stable job for a life of singing
by Edwin Chandra, firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on August 18, 2012, Saturday
SHE gave up a comfortable job at the bank to pursue her dreams of becoming a singer.
Nine years on after making that life-changing decision, Teo Sok Yan has no regrets.
“I could have been a bank manager by now but looking back at the road I took to achieve my lifetime dreams … it was all worth it,” said the 34-year-old singer, more popularly known by her unique stage name — Number (Nan Bo Er).
Number is very proud of her independence, declaring that she did not burden her family in the pursuit of becoming a popular singer locally and internationally. In fact, she spent over RM100,000 of her life savings to produce an album of her own, aptly called ‘Finally’.
“It’s dedicated to the people who are dearest to my heart and to me… it’s a good conclusion after I became a wanderer for nine years to pursue my dreams,” said the petite singer.
Breaking her daddy’s heart
Although she may be an established singer in her own right, the start of her journey into the entertainment business was no bed of roses because her father — an accountant — had wanted her to join the banking line.
“It was my dad who got me my first job in a bank after finishing school and I obliged because he went through a lot of hassle for me,” said Number.
Despite her initial reluctance, she was quick to learn and was pretty soon promoted to customer service because of her friendliness.
After a few years working in the bank, she eventually plucked up her courage for what would be a drastic career change and initially found it difficult to break the news to her loving father.
“My dad is not the kind of person who shows his true feelings openly but I know he was devastated when I told him that I wanted to become a singer instead of a banker,” Number said of her father’s reaction the first time she broke the news to her family.
Despite his disappointment, her father eventually became her most staunch supporter; defending her when well-to-do close relatives questioned the career path she took.
“I am proud of my dad: there was one time he stood up for me in front of our relatives and said that it was alright for me to choose that path as long as I was happy…that moment brought tears to my eyes,” said Number.
7,957,184 hits on the net
Thereafter, Number travelled to Taiwan and China in her pursuit to become an internationally-acclaimed singer.
“One of my virtual channels in China had registered a lot of viewers and by mid- 2009, there were a total of 7,957,184 hits for the song which was uploaded online,” she said on her popularity among Chinese fans who got to know her online.
“I never know that there were millions of people in China who loved to listen to my songs and many of them had actually asked me to continue my stay there,” she said of her short stint in China before returning home in late 2009.
Although she had two hit singles in China, she was forced to return home because the management company that hired her went bust.
There was also another more poignant reason: “After spending a couple of years away, I got homesick and wanted to go home just to be with my family again.”
The singer now resides in Kuala Lumpur and is happy with life there.
The Sarawak Youth Talent Discovery (SYTD) project offers a ray of hope for Number to get the financial support towards completing her local debut album called ‘Finally’.
It took her three years to single-handedly conceive and produce the album’s five tracks. Financial constraints also delayed production work on the album until June last year.
“To save cost, most of the work including production and direction were done by me and my friends…this includes the final work that involves a wide-range of musical influences,” said Number on the enormous work involved in her debut album.
Doing most of the work on a part-time basis, she and her friends have not received any form of financial assistance from any commercial organisation or recording companies.
“I used a lot of my own money to finance this project and most of the professional musicians involved are also my friends … I pay them only a token sum for helping me out and I appreciate them for that,” she said on how painstaking the album production was.
Number, who had composed close to 100 songs herself, disclosed that once completed, the album would be promoted through a nationwide road show involving a photography exhibition and public performances.
“We are hoping to fund this exciting project through sponsorship…this means that the logos, products or tag-lines of our sponsors will be displayed on the promotional tour,” she said.
Number, who has always had a passion for photography, decided to work together with three of her photographer friends on the tour aptly named ‘The Appreciation of Music and Photography’.
They are planning to launch it next year after the Chinese New Year celebration. At the moment, however, production on her album is still ongoing and needs to be sent to Taiwan for harmony, mixing and mastering. She has yet to decide on the album’s cover and design as well. She is looking for those interested to help her out to sponsor funds or in kind, particularly for the nationwide photo exhibition and performance.
In memory of her late younger sister
“Some people want to be famous so that they can have fame and fortune but I write and sing to share my life’s journey with others,” said the philosophical singer.
For Number, there are always the lingering memories of her late younger sister who passed away in 1990 at the age of eight.
She dedicated one song on her album to her, naming the song ‘Angel’s Eyes’ for the memories they shared together.
“My sister was only 8 and I was 16 when she left us … to me, she is still in my heart and she is my guardian. The moment she left, her tears were still warm … I miss her a lot and I wish her only the best,” said Number of her late sister.
If her plans are successful, she hopes to release a book and even organise a backpack tour around the world to share with others.
“We are a group of people who dare to dream … dare to act and try to make it happen no matter how hard it will take,” she said on the ambitious plan of visiting 13 different states and cities covering a journey of 3,000 miles.
“This album might be the beginning of a new journey for me or mark the end of my music career as an artist … it all depends on the response but I will just do it and try to make it happen. We shall wait and see!”