Some of you will be familiar with this name while some may find her a lil new.
Whatever it is, let me introduce to you this petite yet very talented Malaysian singer - Karen Kong, whom I've been fortunate to be able to interview her specially for this Talented Malaysians & Singaporeans segment.
How I Found Out About Karen
I knew about Karen quite accidentally. I was at a music store in KL and the staffs were unpacking her new CDs. And on air, they were playing her album.
I found her voice unique (strong yet sweet), and ever the supporter of local talents, I purchased her album. What made it unique is that, that was the first day that her first album was released. What coincidence.
I have since been a fan of hers and has been seeing her rise from internet star to reality.
What makes Karen unique apart from her voice is that her first album is actually 100% Malay. Titled Mulakan, it has some very nice tunes like Cinta Helo Kitty, Mulakan and the Datuk Siti inspired song - Ku Tak Upaya (seriously, listen to the song, and you can at times mistaken her for Datuk Siti).
Well that is no coincidence, as Datuk Siti Nurhaliza is Karen's idol.
"I idolize Datuk Siti since I was very young because I think she is very passionate towards music and no matter what song she sings, she’d blew me away with her superb voice."
And apart from Datuk Siti, Karen's other idols are Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, A-Mei, Fish Leong, Stephanie Sun, Misia - whom she admire for their passion in music and hardwork they put in, something which I believe Karen is doing as well.
Interestingly, Karen has also released her first Chinese album, 表演 Showtime with hits like 離島 (Li Dao) Island Away, 沉默秘密 (Chen Mo Mimi) and 龔柯允 (Zhen Zhen Tiao).
Karen's Music History
Like many other singers, her passion for music started young. Her first competition was at the age of 4, where she won and represented Labuan in the Sabah state competition.
And it was there that she fell in love with the stage.
She continued singing in many other competitions but it was not until she participated in her university’s (UTAR) Talent Night competition, emerging as the winner that she was talent spotted.
The rest, as you can say, is history.
Malay songs? Why?
I'm sure this question must have popped up to her so many times now. It is rather uncommon for a Chinese to sing in Bahasa Malaysia, what more a full album on it.
She regards her influence of Malay music from her family. "Though I’m Chinese, my parents really enjoy listening and watching malay music at home".
And in fact, it was a Malay music that got her spotted - yes, she sang Bukan Cinta Biasa (by Datuk Siti).
So, it was natural for her to come out with her first Malay album which actually took a good 2 years to produce. But it has sinced become extra special for Karen as looking back, this is the album that managed to bring so many races to like her album (she has fans from all races and honestly, I feel proud for her on achieving this).
Former Malaysian Idol Contestant?
You'll be surprised that Karen has actually also entered into competitions like Astro's Talent Quest and the glamour Malaysian Idol. However, her luck didn't go far.
But it is this that makes many people admire her - for she didn't give up her dreams. Instead, she continued persevering and improving herself. We always hear many who say they'll make a comeback in the industry, and sort of dissapear. But not Karen.
She improved her singing, putting in much more work needed, and is now thankful to be able to realise her dreams of becoming a singer.
What's In Store For Karen
Karen has been brushing up on her Mandarin, preparing for a regional Mandarin album. But also in the pipelines is a new Malay album slated for 2009.
You will most likely continue to hear a lot more about this shinning star, who launched her presence online using Friendster and has since blossomed to a full singer.
Here, a video of her journey - may you be inspired:
Karen Kong's Contest Giveaway
To those of you who would love to grab hold of a personally autographed CD by Karen, kindly send your wishes and aspirations to Karen here.
1 lucky winner will get this CD specially arranged by Prodigee Media.
Contest ends: 17 Nov 2008.
*Connect with Karen Kong:
Karen Kong's Friendster
*To Karen, love your spirit and vocals. Can't wait to hear more of you! :)