Sarawakian singer sings for Ariana Grande, Callum Scott & Shila Amzah
Enter Clinton Jerome Chua
“I remember it very clearly. It was after the soundcheck for the finale. We were in the ballroom, we made it to the top 6. The main spotlight and a few stage lights shone. I took a moment to myself and sat there. There was another contestant with me and we were just staring at the stage in silence for almost an hour.”.
Sarawakian super singer, Clinton Jerome Chua, grew up in music. Like most Borneon family dynamics, family gatherings were where you put your practice to good use. He was inspired by Dad, who played guitar and believed in the importance of action. Also, influenced by Mum who was the storyteller of the family. Both wonderful parents who support his dreams fully.
Clinton was greeted by opportunity in his first televised competition in 2013. A massive door stood in front of him. As performers, we practice and boy do we practice hard. Practice then takes the form of a key. Opportunities are doors. For this performer, this was his biggest door to date. This is a story of doors and keys.
The First Door – Yank it Open!
“At the finale, I knew there was no chance in hell that I’d let this opportunity slip out of my hands. One door closes and another door opens, right? I knew for a fact that the door was right in front of me. I was gonna yank it open! I didn’t care if it was shut. I was gonna break it open.”.
He placed well in that competition.
He was now a signed artist.
He then moved to Kuala Lumpur as a newly signed label artist thinking he had made it. When you yank the door open without really preparing for it, it’ll sneak up on you. “It was a cold slap in the face”, he said. This is where he learned what was necessary of an artist. Back home, his supportive parents would be there whenever they could for his important milestones. This was important to him. But in Kuala Lumpur, fending for yourself is an art. It’s a rat race. You are surrounded by top tier talents that are hungry and at a completely different speed. This was where the door closed. He learned that he was underprepared. He parted with his label but then made doors for himself. He began to educate himself and start from the bottom.
The Second Door – Missed Opportunity
Yet in contrast, being a performer in a different pond changes a person. “I was a very by the book kinda guy.” Clinton mentioned. The small town boy now molded and more mature. His thought process changed completely from the time he sat in the ballroom. Like his Dad, he now spoke through action. But there is little breathing space in these moments. He was chosen to represent Malaysia to meet Ariana Grande. He was waiting in the hall surrounded by excited fans of hers. She was a big inspiration to him. He was about to meet his idol.
The rules were: no photos, no videos, just a quick chat.
One door opens.
He walked in the room.
One door closes.
He walked out of the room.
He was still the same person he was.
One door closes.
You would think meeting your heroes would change you.
One door closes.
The Third Door – Support System
What would we do without the people who care about us? He stood there in the hall having barely smiled at his idol. Made completely nothing of his opportunity. He was now outside the room looking at his Mother. It all happened so fast.
His Mother noticed and said “Are you really going to meet her and not even try to take a selfie?”. This was an immediate nudge. His mind said go and so he did. Inching his way back into the room for a selfie, his Mother spoke from across the room and said, “Can my song sing for you?”. Now here’s a door opened. In his mind it went by like lightning: Here he was, completely tired and underprepared just about to sing for his idol. He was a reflection of her influence on him as an artist. He wanted to show her the impact that she made in his life.
Here’s where technique runs far out the door. Warm ups? yeah nah. All that will hold you together in important impromptu moments like these are habits you’ve cultivated as an artist. Your opportunity is solely based on what you’ve done in the quiet. Collective practice.
The Fourth Door – Fruits and Consistency
The video gained over 500,000 views on Youtube. This was a door well opened with the right key. His practice became rituals which turned into habits. Today we meet Clinton fresh off his massive win on ‘I can see your voice’, where he won the opportunity to duet with Shila Amzah.
He’s also sung for English Singer-Songwriter, Calum Scott.
Clinton’s story is a story of Doors and Keys. Doors will present themselves to you throughout your career. As a musician and artist, it is what we do to prepare for these opportunities that will determine the outcome. It is our job to make our own keys. Clinton has shared with us what he does in the quiet.
The Keys – Clinton’s 8 tips to Singing
- Warm Up
Warm Ups are so important. I usually do the “Vocal Fry on the Scale” to assume what shape my voice is in before a performance. Vocal fry involves dropping the voice to its lowest natural register, which changes the way a person’s vocal folds vibrate together.
- Be stingy with your Air
It’s like being an Airbender. You have to be economical with your air. Always breathe in just enough. Not too much or not too little.
- Focus on Control
Learn control in vocals. Make your body parts work for you. The more you know your voice, the more control you will have.
- Don’t neglect your Ears.
Listen to songs that are interesting and have weird changes. Pop songs naturally have the same chord structure. Look for songs that sound predictable but
- Youtube is your best friend.
There are so many singing tutorials on Youtube that you can learn from. Explore different singers and try different things.
- Enough sleep.
Sleep is so important. The voice is a biological instrument. It needs it’s rest.
- Record yourself singing.
Get used to the sound of your voice and try to improve it slowly. Record yourself as much as you can and tweak it according to what you like. This will also keep a record of how you’ve improved overtime and you will be surprised how different you will sound with practice!
- Invest in herbs.
Manuka Honey and Traditional Herbs are great for the serious singer that needs to be consistent in every performance. It’s definitely not for everyone but it’s something that helps me a lot.
Check out @ClintonJeromeChua’s new single on Spotify:
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