New Straits Times
Cheryl K is here to stay
Cheryl K found international fame last year with the theme song for movie blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians. She tells Dennis Chua about her latest US single
WHILE she represented Malaysia in the World Championship Of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in 2010 in Hollywood, Cheryl Koh Shao May only got noticed last year, singing Crazy Rich Asians’ theme song Money.
Riding on the success of the romantic comedy which starred Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh and Henry Golding, Cheryl, 23, who is known professionally as Cheryl K, now has a second American single to her name.
Titled Here To Stay, and released last Dec 23, the song is Cheryl’s labour of love to all Malaysians and her promise to remain true to her roots.
“This song says that I’m proud of who I am, that I am not going anywhere else, I’m going all out to make my mark in the global music industry and it is just the place I want to be,” she said in a recent interview. “At the same time, it is also meant to inspire others to persevere against anyone who is trying to take you down and dampen your aspirations.”
Cheryl, who is based in Los Angeles also revealed that she had joined independent record label GITM (Guerrillaz In The Mix), and this came shortly after an American friend showed Cheryl’s YouTube music videos to the label’s producers.
“GITM producers and co-founders Everette EZ Silas and Sherri Sharlene, who both produced Here To Stay , were impressed with my work and wanted to get to know me better.
“EZ saw my video first, and then showed it to Sherri. We had a meeting and they both said let’s work together. Everything just fell into place quickly in the fourth quarter of last year.”
She described the opportunity as “just the perfect timing” and a “chance to work with great mentors.”
“It’s a positive message that I’m out to portray with the new song. I’m hoping that people around the world can connect to it. And as for my fellow Malaysians, it is my assurance that I love all of you and thank you all for supporting me all these years. I owe it to you guys!”
Cheryl is also using the single to pay tribute to the brave firemen who risked their lives fighting a series of wildfires in California, her newfound home in the US, last year.
“Ten per cent of the proceeds of the record sales will be donated to the Red Cross Society and other organisations involved in fighting the fires. I always believe in giving back to society, via humanitarian causes.”
HEART AND SOUL
anthem for young people, particularly aspiring singers and songwriters who “want to go global”.
Cheryl says,” “There are countless people out there who want to make it in music, and they post their latest work on social media every second. I always believe if there is a will, there is a way. What’s important is we must put our heart and soul into it.”
Cheryl had shared the stage with prominent Malaysian artistes like Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza, Jaclyn Victor and Vince Chong prior to her move to the US in 2014, and also with acclaimed composer and pianist, David Foster.
“My journey into the US music scene was not easy, I got rejected many times, but I persevered. Fortunately, my success bagging four gold medals, including the Hollywood Industry Award and Champion Of The World Senior Division Award in WCOPA, equipped me with the confidence and strength I needed.
“WCOPA helped me challenge myself on an international level — to keep striving to be the best. I also got to meet talented friends whom I am in touch with. We support one another, and this plays a significant role in our success.”
Cheryl is a business administration graduate with a minor in music industry. She graduated from the University of Southern California last year, and during her final year at the university, she auditioned for the job of singing Crazy Rich Asians’ theme song.
“I actually auditioned for an acting role in the film, and during auditions, I included a 15-second video clip of myself singing Jessie J’s Mama Knows Best, a cappella style. Warner Bros soon contacted me about the theme song.”
She will soon shoot a music video for Here To Stay. “I’ve asked Netizens to take videos of themselves singing any part of the song with the music in the background, and dress in any outfit which indicates where they are.
“For example, a T-shirt which spells out your hometown or country will be great. Just tag the record label @gitm_music and @cherylk_official on social media before posting,” she said.
“And if you don’t have that, just feature a famous landmark in the world in the background, and take a short video clip.”
Cheryl recently returned to Kuala Lumpur, and recorded a few video clips of Klang Valley landmarks, including Batu Caves and its colourful steps. “I would love to show where I’m from so I want people to be involved, people from Malaysia or any other country, to be a part of this project.”
Cheryl advises aspiring young singers and songwriters to “meet as many people as you can, love making new friends and thank everyone who is part of your show or music video.
“And always continue posting music online. It’s not easy, but you never know who might see it, just like how Jon saw me. One day I’m sure you will make it just as I have!”
Cheryl’s New Year resolution is to write more of her own songs, and release as many as possible.
“I wish to work with people like Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and David one day. I also dream of having my own concert at Madison Square Garden or winning a Grammy in future.”
Cheryl has also been signed to Aligned Entertainment, the same team that manages Crazy Rich Asians cast member Ken Jeong.
“This also happened late last year, after Ken introduced me to his manager, who loved my videos.”
Here To Stay is available on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/track/5fnRcu6TGQrBXIvO9Ewzfe?si=m7xknmtvTXeQzta-oqKzHQ
I’ve asked Netizens to take videos of themselves singing any part of the song with the music in the background, and dress in any outfit which indicates where they are. Cheryl K