Gui­tar-sling­ing Sin­ga­pore granny shreds stereo­types

Muscat Daily - - FEATURES -

An 81 year old gui­tar-sling­ing Sin­ga­porean granny has shred­ded stereo­types to pur­sue her love of rock mu­sic, be­com­ing a sought-af­ter per­former and un­likely in­ter­net sen­sa­tion.

Mary Ho's late-flour­ish­ing ca­reer will reach its zenith on Wed­nes­day when she per­forms in front of a huge crowd at Sin­ga­pore's Na­tional Day Pa­rade, marking 52 years of the city-state's in­de­pen­dence.

Grand­mother of seven, Mary only started play­ing the gui­tar at 60, ful­fill­ing a life­long dream to learn the in­stru­ment.

She ini­tially taught her­self from a book with an acous­tic and was con­tent strum­ming along and singing.

But when a friend in­tro­duced her to rock star Car­los San­tana's clas­sic track Samba Pa Ti about a decade ago, she de­cided to seek some pro­fes­sional tu­tor­ing to shift things up a few gears.

"It was too dif­fi­cult (to learn on my own) so I found a teacher. But the teacher looked at me and said 'Oh I've never taught any­one your age be­fore'."

De­spite not know­ing how to read mu­sic, Mary was de­ter­mined to learn her favourite song and prac­tised up to three hours a day to get the hang of it.

Since then, she's amassed a col­lec­tion of more than 20 gui­tars, recorded her own al­bum of Latin mu­sic and is of­ten in de­mand for char­ity gigs.

A video of Mary play­ing rock clas­sic Need Your Love So Bad has more than 1.1mn views on YouTube.

In fast-age­ing Sin­ga­pore, Mary is a poster child for how to re­main ac­tive when el­derly, and has fea­tured in var­i­ous cam­paigns en­cour­ag­ing se­nior cit­i­zens to stay ac­tive.

She ad­mit­ted to feel­ing a lit­tle anx­ious ahead of Wed­nes­day's per­for­mance be­fore a crowd of 27,000 at the pa­rade, which features a military tat­too be­fore a fes­tive show fea­tur­ing lo­cal stars.

"Be­ing my first time for such a large per­for­mance, I nat­u­rally feel very ner­vous," she said. Asked if she was ex­hausted from all her ac­tiv­i­ties, Mary sim­ply laughed. "Maybe it's just my nature, it's the love of do­ing things, learn­ing things... I don't ever get tired."

Mary Ho

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