May 2, 2008 – It’s not often that someone gets a phone call from the legendary Olivia Newton-John — and especially not to collaborate on a song. But it happened to Singaporean singer Sun Ho.
“She made quite a few calls to me even before we met and was telling me what the song would be like and what she wanted me to do,” said a clearly excited Ho over the phone from her apartment in New York.
The two songbirds worked together on Isn’t it Amazing for cancer-survivor Newton-John’s upcoming Songs of Hope and Inspiration: Olivia and Friends album to raise funds for a cancer support centre and to commemorate her awareness-raising Great Walk to Beijing earlier this month. Other artistes on the album include Keith Urban, Richard Marx, and Cliff Richard.
Ho’s part in the song was recorded in the United States — where she is working on her new album — while Newton-John did her bit in Australia before finally meeting recently to put the final touches to the track at rapper-cum- producer Wyclef Jean’s studio in New York.
“When we finally met at Wyclef’s studio, I actually felt like I already knew her and she was exactly how I expected her to be: Very warm, very real and very pretty, of course,” said the 37-year-old singer. “Having this chance was like a dream come true, you know, to be able to sing with her in a studio.”
Besides hobnobbing with celebrities like Newton-John, Ho was also kept busy after being picked as a “Music Ambassador” for the Beijing Olympic Games this year.
In February, she became the first person to sing the century-old Olympic anthem in Mandarin at the Forbidden City.
But the most of her time is spent on her new album, due early next year, which she is working on with Jean.
One of the songs making a buzz is China Wine — the video of which features Ho shaking her bum in tight shorts and gyrating between two homeboys.
“If people are saying it is sexy, I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said when asked if it wasn’t a bit too revealing for someone who is seen as a role model for youth and is closely associated with a church. Ho is married to Reverend Kong Hee, the founder of the City Harvest Church in Singapore. She also used to be the church’s music director.
She said: “But it was not so much intentional … The whole theme was focused on how to bring out something new with an Asian influence but yet relevant to the American market.”
She also defended the “Geisha” persona she plays in the video where she pretty much comes across as a vindictive ah lian who catches her man cheating. “I was careful about that. Wyclef wanted to use the ‘Geisha’ persona. At this moment, this is what American people know about Asia. Memoirs of a Geisha is big in the US at the moment,” she added.
And it seems to have caught the public’s eye because, at last count, the video had received over 600,000 views on YouTube.
So with things really taking off for her in the States, does this mean we will be seeing less of her here?
“Definitely not! Singapore is my home and my family is there and I really miss home. I miss my mum and dad,” said Ho, adding that the reason she spends most of her time in the US is because of the new album.
“Please tell everybody I love Singapore, and besides my family, I also miss my mee siam and lontong,” said the mother of a three-year-old boy. Ho was last in Singapore in October.
But not to worry, home is just a phone call away. – TODAY/fa