This new life lasted for 15 years and included stage appearances with Rahim Hamid (Singapore's Nat King Cole) and The Pebbles, Sonny Bala and The Moonglows and many other top pop Singapore bands.
She entertained at a string of hotels all over Singapore from about 1972 to 1980 including the Apollo at Ion Bar in Kings at and the Ambassador in the East Coast. Her nightclub stints included the El Amigo, Lido Deluxe (image 2), the Capuccino at Plaza Singapura and other popular spots.
A journalist from an English newspaper, remarked in an article that Irene "has a voice that is light, almost ethereal." With a voice so heavenly like the songbird herself, it was not a wonder that she had encore performances at the clubs that she was in. Irene remembers that in a particular nightspot "management kept asking me to come back..." She did, and remained a resident singer for almost five years. And that told a lot about her!
There were moments in her youthful career that Irene sung duet with guitarist and keyboardist Edmund Tan. They entertained audiences with hits like , Jackson, Love Me With All Your Heart, He'll Have To Go. Her nightly club acts widened her repertoire and she sang in other languages too.
Irene added, "The regulations in the nightspots were very strict. Being underaged I had to apply for a licence to perform. We were not allowed to patronise customers and had to wear decent costumes."
But it was a varied, colourful and successful life's journey for this songbird. From the first vinyl record contract offered, where the Charles Lazaroo Orchestra accompanied her in Pretty Ribbons and where she went through "hard gruelling sessions of recordings", up to the time that she retired to get married, she never regretted a moment.
Irene moved to the US for a short while, living in two major cities. She had been a housewife since except for a comeback at two nightclubs in 1995. During her very early years one newspaper headlined her as the "pint-sized veteran of show business".
Today this true veteran reminisced, "When you start singing at such a tender age, you never think about anything else. Singing becomes your life and doing something you love. No regrets except that it had taken some of my childhood."
Irene's story reveals her positive attitude towards a life and career that she chose to take. It is a music journey spanning quite some years but she has made it a successful one. Thank you Irene for sharing your past moments with me. I appreciate it very much.
Images from Irene Yap Collection: 1) Night club poster. 2) Chinese New Year songs with two other singers. The three of them did a Chinese Variety Show appearance and also recorded children's songs.
Original article: Andy Lim. All copyrights reserved.