In 1966 when Irene Yap (image: 1,2) was only 11 years young she was asked by a Mr Heng to sing with a Singapore guitar group called The Sandboys while watching them during a rehearsal. According to Irene, the gentleman was affiliated to White Cloud Records (more popular with the production of Chinese pops) and signed her up for a recording contract after listening to her voice.
Irene made her first vinyl singing the very popular Pretty Ribbon by Engelbert Humperdinck. But her version was different because she sung it in both English and Chinese. It was a hit and sold about 8,000 copies! She carried on with White Cloud and in the next four years, up to the time she was 14 in 1970, Irene had released seven EPs and three LPs.
Irene recalled that before the singers had final recording sessions they had to be properly trained. She continued, "So when I was only eleven Mr Heng sent me for vocal training by Liang Pin a famous Hong Kong singer then. Besides singing scales I had to do the Por por mor fer, a Chinese pronunciation course."
As her popularity peaked, Irene was well publicised by the local English papers. Stories about this youthful singer, her recordings and pictures appeared in The Straits Times, New Nation, Singapore Herald, Eastern Sun and other vernacular newspapers. Within the short span she had appeared on the little home screen during Chinese Variety Show produced by RTS (Radio Television Singapore) and other programmes like Take Four, The Guthrie Hour and on the Malay Variety channel.
With such a success story and because she wanted to pursue her love for singing Irene made a decision to turn professional and it was during her school holiday in 1971 when Irene decided to...
(More about Irene in the next posting and what the newspapers say about her and the special licence she had to obtain to perform because of her age.)
Do you remember Irene and her White Cloud recordings? Tell us.
Images: Irene Yap Collection. Copyrights Reserved.
Article: by Andy Lim as told by Irene Yap.