Tanya Chua



Tanya Chua (蔡健雅) (b. 28 January 1975, Singapore–)1 is a critically acclaimed Singapore Mandopop singer-songwriter who emerged on the music scene in the 1990s. Effectively bilingual in both English and Mandarin, Tanya gained popular success mainly in Taiwan and has garnered four titles at Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards as at 2015.2

Early life
An alumnus of St Nicholas’ Girls School, Chua has credited her love for music for helping her recover from an eating disorder during her teenage years. After secondary school, she pursued a diploma in business administration at Singapore Polytechnic, and worked as a freelance jazz and tap dancer.3


Chua was spotted by local musician Max Surin when she emerged as one of the champions of television talent show, Asia Bagus. She was later invited to perform with his band, Made in Singapore, at the then Westin Stamford hotel lounge.4 She subsequently performed with other bands such as Private Collection, and Jem and the Fridays. She also sang in pubs like Dada Music Bar, Fabrice and Top Ten. In 1996, Chua performed with Dick Lee on a tour in Japan, and starred in his musical, Hot Pants, the following year.5

Wanting to expand her repertoire beyond the English covers she was singing in pubs, Chua signed on with artiste management company Music & Movement, after she was talent-spotted by the company’s boss Lim Sek during one of her pub performances.6

Albums and early success
In 1997, Chua released her debut English-language album, Bored, under the label Yellow Music.7 The album was well received and given substantial airplay on local radio, attracting the attention of several record labels.8


In March 1998, Chua entered the Asia Song Festival with her composition “Hear Me”, and won in the unpublished category of the annual songwriting competition held in Manila, the Philippines. Impressing the international panel of judges, she became the first Singaporean to win the competition and received a prize money of US$10,000.9 In the same month, she embarked on a six-month electric guitar course at the Los Angeles Musicians’ Institute in the United States, and signed a contract with PolyGram Music Taiwan – later bought over by Universal Music – in June.10

Chua went on to release two albums under PolyGram Music in 1999: an English album, Luck, and her self-titled Mandarin album, 蔡健雅 (Tanya).11 The latter topped the charts in Taiwan, selling more than 200,000 copies. Her second Mandarin album, Ji Nian (纪念; Remember), was released in 2000. Both Mandarin albums enjoyed brisk sales in Singapore, each selling more than 5,000 copies.12

In 2001, Chua composed and performed the national day theme song, “Where I Belong”.13 Besides her own musical releases, she has also composed or written songs for prominent Asian singers such as Faye Wong, A-mei, Fish Leong and fellow Singaporean, Stefanie Sun.14

Career developments
Although her first few albums received critical success and launched her career in Taiwan, Chua’s subsequent albums did not fare as well. In 2002, she was reportedly dropped by Universal Music because the sale of her albums Ji Nian (纪念) and Xiang Xin (相信; I Do Believe) fell short of the label’s sales target of 100,000 copies, having sold about 60,000 copies each in Taiwan.15 In later interviews, Chua said Universal had offered her a contract renewal, but the two parties eventually agreed on a split, as she was disillusioned by the demands of marketing and promoting her music.16

Chua signed with Warner Music subsequently. Her 2003 album, Mo Sheng Ren (陌生人; Stranger), sold 100,000 copies in Taiwan.17 However, she found herself at odds with the record label over the commercial direction of her music, and felt uncomfortable that most of her hit singles were written by others. This led her to contemplate quitting the music business.18


Instead, Chua started Tangy Music Group in 2007 to regain control of her career and move into music production, publishing and talent management.19 Chua also credited a yoga trip to India for helping her rediscover her love for music and set in motion the changes in her career.20

In 2006, Chua won her first Golden Melody Award – among the most prestigious title in the Mandarin pop music scene – in the Best Mandarin Female Singer category. That was the first of her four Golden Melody Awards; Chua bagged the same award in 2008 and 2012 as well as the Best Album Producer award in 2008 for the album, Goodbye & Hello.21 The album has been described as a defining moment for Chua, as it helped shape her into a more complete musician. She composed all the music, wrote the lyrics for six songs and produced the album herself. In 2008 alone, Chua garnered a total of 21 awards.22


In 2006, Chua parted ways with her management company Music & Movement, and joined Taiwanese label AsiaMuse. The following year, she moved to Taiwan to capitalise on opportunities there and in China.23

Chua’s departure from Music & Movement was not amicable: the artiste was involved in a legal dispute with the company between 2008 and 2009. Having signed over the rights to her songs to Music & Movement in 2002, Chua sought to recover the rights after her contract ended in 2006, also claiming that the company had breached a clause in the contract.24 She lost the lawsuit at the first ruling;25 however, on appeal, she managed to regain the rights to about 140 of her songs.26

In 2010, a spontaneous desire to produce an English album saw Chua gather a group of backing musicians and record Just Say So in Los Angeles. The album, comprising songs written in 2006, was recorded in just six days. Chua self-financed the entire production, and the album was released simultaneously with her Mandarin album, Shuo Dao Ai (説到愛; Sing It Out Of Love), in 2011.27


Concerts and charity causes

In April 2011, Chua held her first major solo concert in Singapore at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Her previous concerts staged in Singapore had been at smaller venues such as the National University of Singapore’s University Cultural Centre and Ngee Ann Polytechnic. She had performed a sold-out concert at the 13,000-capacity Taipei Arena in Taiwan in March the same year.28


The following year, in 2012, Chua played to 1,300 fans at the Esplanade Concert Hall, featuring songs from her English album Just Say So released the previous year.29 Between 2013 and 2014, she also performed in cities such as Taipei, Beijing and Shanghai.30

In April 2014 Chua collaborated with Mandopop singers Sandy Lam (Hong Kong), A-mei (Taiwan) and Na Ying (China) for the Project WAO (Women as One) charity concert in aid of abused girls aged 10 to 18 years. The concert, which aimed to raise NT$10 million, drew 10,000 fans to the Taipei Arena. Chua said she was keen to organise future editions of Project WAO concerts throughout Asia, including Singapore.31 Chua had previously performed in charity events benefiting social and welfare organisations32 like the Community Chest33 and the National Kidney Foundation.34

Soon after the Project WAO charity concert, Chua caught the flu, which developed into severe laryngitis. She was forced to cancel her performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum, which she described as her “dream stage”.35

Selected awards
1998: Best Music Composition for “Hear Me (Asia Song Festival).36
1999: Best Local Music Composition (Singapore Hit Awards).37

2000: Best Local Music Composition (Singapore Hit Awards).38
2004: Best Local Music Composition; Best Local Music Arrangement; Top 10 Most Popular Songs (Singapore Hit Awards).39
2005: Best Composing Artiste (Singapore Hit Awards).40
2005: Most Popular Singer Songwriter; Most Popular Duet (Global Chinese Music Awards, Taiwan).41
2006: Best Mandarin Female Singer (Golden Melody Awards, Taiwan).42

2006: Top 20 Songs; Best Composition (Global Chinese Music Awards, Singapore).43
2007: Most Popular Duet (Global Chinese Music Awards, Hong Kong).44
2008: Best Mandarin Female Singer; Best Album Producer for Goodbye & Hello (Golden Melody Awards, Taiwan).45

2009: Best Local Lyrics; Most Outstanding Local Musician; Asian Media’s Best Female Singapore (Singapore Hit Awards).46
2010: Best Local Music Composition; Best Local Artiste (Singapore Hit Awards).47
2012: Artistic Excellence Award (Composers and Authors Society of Singapore).48
2012: Best Mandarin Female Singer (Golden Melody Awards, Taiwan).49
2013: Best Local Music Composition (Singapore Hit Awards).50


Albums51
1997: Bored (English).
1999: 蔡健雅 (Tanya; Mandarin).
1999: Luck (English).
2000: Ji Nian (纪念; Remember; Mandarin).
2001: Xiang Xin (相信; I Do Believe; Mandarin).
2001: Mo Qi (默契; Tacit Understanding; Mandarin).
2002: Jupiter (English).
2002: Secret Lavender (English).
2003: Mo Sheng Ren (陌生人; Stranger; Mandarin).
2005: Shuang Qi Dong Wu (双栖动物; Amphibian; Mandarin).
2006: T-Time (Mandarin).
2007: Goodbye & Hello (Mandarin).
2008: My Space (Mandarin).
2009: Ruo Ni Peng Dao Ta (若你碰到他; If You See Him; Mandarin).
2011: Shuo Dao Ai (说到爱; Sing It Out Of Love; Mandarin).
2011: Just Say So (English).

2013: Tian Shi Yu Mo Gui De Dui Hua (天使与魔鬼的对话; Angel vs Devil; Mandarin).52



Author
Jaime Koh




References
1. Viacom International Inc. (2015). Biography: 蔡健雅. Retrieved from MTV Artists website: http://www.mtv.com/artists/chua-tanya/
2. Chan, B. (2012, July 11). Tanya’s time. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Chang, M. C. (2008, July 6). Double delight. The New Paper, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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4. Mak, M. S. (2006, July 10). One for the record. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Yeo, E. (1996, March 9). A collection that’s well polished. The New Paper, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Kaiden, E. A. (1997, August 23). It may be thin and silly but Hot Pants should still be seen. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lim, R. (1998, January 13). Tanya: Music saved my life. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Mak, M. S. (2006, July 10). One for the record. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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17. Hong, X. (2003, July 23). Tanya gets her revenge. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tangy Music Group. (n.d.). Albums. Retrieved from Tangy Music Group website: http://www.tangymusicgroup.com/albums.html
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23. Lee, S. Y. (2007, July 17). My mum, my manager. The Straits Times, p. 60. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Lum, S. (2008, October 10). Singer fails in legal bid for song rights. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Lum, S. (2008, October 10). Singer fails in legal bid for song rights. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Thomas, S. (2009, November 12). Tanya wins songs’ rights. The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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32. Lin, E. (2004, January 9). See this and show you care. The New Paper, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Chia, E. (2002, May 10). This year, the police go pop. Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Ngiau, D. (2001, March 23). Use SMS for charity. Today, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ng, H. H. (2005, July 12). No need for tricks. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Chan, B. (2014, June 26). Ill Tanya cancels HK gig. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
36. Chan, B (2012, July 11). Tanya’s time. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
37. Chan, B (2012, July 11). Tanya’s time. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
38. Lin, W. (2011, March 11). Comeback kid. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
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47. Toh, C. (2010, October 30). S.H.E., Tanya big winners at Singapore Hit Awards. Today. Retrieved from Factiva.
48. Tan, K. Y. (2012, July 10). Girl powered. The New Paper. Retrieved from Factiva.
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52. Short spins. (2013, November 7). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Asian Pop Weekly. (2014, December 7). Tanya Chua [蔡健雅]: 天使与魔鬼的对话 [Angel vs Devil]. Retrieved from Asian Pop Weekly website: http://asianpopweekly.weebly.com/2013/tanya-chua-angel-vs-devil



The information in this article is valid as at 10 March 2015 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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