Watching the 2012 Olympics Games coming 'live' from London within the confines of the living room can be quite an experience especially at 4.00 in the morning. The body clock goes haywire and one wakes up at noon looking for breakfast. It has been my experience since the Games started a few days ago.
When we sat down and were about to enjoy the meal, the Fatty, Fatty Bom, Bom song brightened the rather stifling atmosphere in the hawker centre. Beside one of the white pillars of the huge food centre sat a lone busker (amidst his amplifier, personal belongings) hugging a seasoned guitar.
"How long have you been busking, Daniel?" I asked the stout gentleman later as we sat with his Indonesian lady partner who was helping him with his lunch.
"About 6 years," Daniel answered.
The meeting with my new friend lasted for a while as he told me his life story.
When I reached home I messaged a dozen friends, "Went to Tiong Bahru hawkers' centre this morning. One blind guitarist busks there. Fantastic guitar playing with his beautifully gruff, bluesy voice. Sings Dylan, Denver and Diamond. Spent two hours with him, just listening to music from the heart of Daniel Ng." You can read the replies by clicking Comment below.
Daniel Ng Ah Hock, who is about 50, is visually handicapped and was schooled at the Institute for the Blind at Toa Payoh Rise in the 70s. His love for the guitar began when a volunteer at the school promised to teach him the rudiments of the pop instrument if he completed his daily homework without complaining.
Like what I messaged earlier, Daniel is an accomplished player today. You need to listen to him to appreciate his naturally raspy Joe Cocker/Neil Diamond combination. He plays and sings the best hits from yesteryear in English, Japanese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese.
When I requested for my wife's favourite, Annie's Song he provided a rendition so unique that only Paul Ponnudorai could challenge.
Have Gun Will Travel was the theme of the previous posting. For this one it's Have Guitar Will Travel because Daniel is known to many Singaporeans for his generosity and kind ways as he had contributed to charities himself.
Message For Esplanade:
So if you meet him again spare him some and Esplanade, if you are searching for talent allow him to peform in the Recital Studio or the Theatre because that's where he belongs, up on stage for all to witness this true Blue Singaporean who's better than most.
Like former busker Kelvin Tan Wei Lian, a visually impaired Singaporean who sang for a living but won Project SuperStar hosted by Singapore's MediaCorp TV Channel U, Daniel could be our next find.
As we were about to leave the food centre, Daniel celebrated our exit with a rousing, Stand Up For Singapore. "For National Day!" he shouted. We stopped to listen again.
Are YOU listening Singapore?
Images and article: Andy Lim.