Alemay Fernandez: "It can be tough being a jazz singer in Singapore"

Alemay Fernandez: "It can be tough being a jazz singer in Singapore"

She's got a phenomenal voice that has landed her on stage with the likes of The Count Basie Orchestra, David Foster, The Platters' Bobby Soul, and Laura Fygi. Now she's proving a promising songwriter too.

Alemay Fernandez bears all in her debut album Hard to Imagine, tapping on deeply personal experiences to deliver ten tracks that have been five years in the making.

This project is Alemay's first attempt at writing, arranging and producing original songs, and she's gone to quite some lengths to get just the right sound she had envisioned.

Such lengths include flying halfway round the globe to Los Angeles to work with various artists, such as — to whom she accredits her cousin, Vanessa Fernandez, for the introduction — Michael C Ross, mixing engineer who has had a hand in music by the Pussycat Dolls, Queen Latifah, and Christina Aguilera.

In an email interview, Alemay told us how she had never imagined "that [she] would be songwriting, producing as well as arranging for the first time, in one fell swoop." The album was even largely self-funded and partially crowd-funded, and we can only imagine how it must have been quite the uphill battle.

Alemay tells us how now as she looks back, it is incredible "how much [her] life has changed, how different [she] was as a person and a performer compared with five years ago."  

As a pivotal player in Singapore's jazz scene, we asked for her insight on the current state of jazz in Singapore. An undoubtedly lesser appreciated genre amongst our population, Alemay seems to suspect that it may be thanks to the genre's relative inaccessibility, making it "intimidating" to some audiences.

"It can be tough being a jazz singer in Singapore because the genre is pretty niche," explains Alemay. "Many jazz musicians in Singapore, myself included, have taken it upon themselves to develop our own distinctive voice, so that more and more people will come to love jazz as much as we do."

Yet, she remains hopeful and is encouraged by her perceived increase in "Singaporeans, especially the younger generation, [being] very open to music and learning about the history of jazz."

Alemay Fernandez launches her album on July 9th to a sold-out crowd at the Esplanade Recital Studio, backed by an eight-piece band and supporting performances by Vanessa Fernandez, Michaela Therese & Richard Jackson.

Her album Hard To Imagine is officially released on the same day, available on iTunes and Spotify.