'It runs in the family': Singaporean musicians you may not know are related to one another

'It runs in the family': Singaporean musicians you may not know are related to one another

"There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained." — Winston Churchill 

No one knows how talents are assigned to individuals on this planet. Sometimes, it seems like only a lucky few living in disparate parts of the world are granted exceptional abilities in areas like cooking, painting and football.  

Other times, talented individuals are concentrated in households. We look up to these families and can't help but marvel at all the giftedness that exists under one roof. And in the realm of music, being the universal language the binds us all together, it's not uncommon to hear of powerhouse siblings or parent-child groups that have made successful forays into the scene. 

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Singapore's music scene is a prime example of this. We spotlight eight pairs of homegrown musicians who are related by blood, proving the point that music truly runs in the family. Read on to find out how many of these musical ménages you recognise. 


Krysta Joy, Keona D'Souza

Sisters Krysta Joy and Keona D'Souza have been making music since they were kids. Of the two siblings, Krysta has conceivably been more active on the scene with the release of her own singles and EPs over the years. Her uplifting brand of pop/R&B tracks coloured with hopeful lyrics is apparent in her latest album 'Embrace the Progress'. Krysta was conferred the Noise Singapore Award in 2018 for her outstanding performance in the mentorship programme.  

On the other hand, Keona has performed for a myriad of platforms like BUSKING@*SCAPE and leadership training school 21 Project Singapore. The talented siblings have also joined forces on YouTube covers like the one above in their early childhood days. 


Mohamed Noor, Mohamed Bashir, Mohamed Raffee

The brothers first exploded onto the music scene as part of Singapore's pioneering Tamil-pop fusion band Vasantham Boys (initially the 'Indian Youth Orchestra') and had made their musical debut when Raffee, Bashir and Noor were just 12, nine and five years old respectively. Their father, Syed Yakob, was a bandleader and provided their earliest exposure to music at home. 

Today, the band's frontman Raffee is an acclaimed singer, producer, and music composer. His multi-pronged career has allowed him to work with the likes of Indian film composer A. R. Rahman and Taiwanese songbird Tracy Huang. Bashir is likewise a sought-after Indian film composer, and was based in Chennai. 

Noor has gone on to become an internationally recognised drummer who has played for regional superstars like Jacky Cheung, David Tao, and Wang Leehom. He has picked up more than 25 instruments and plays a wide range of percussion ones. Noor has also been invited to perform at festivals all over the world including in Tokyo, London and Seoul. 


Benjamin and Narelle Kheng 

The siblings first broke out into the music industry as part of pop-rock outfit The Sam Willows. After the band's indefinite hiatus in 2019, both Benjamin and Narelle have launched successful artistic solo careers. Narelle has since dropped a three-part EP, the final instalment 'Part 3' (featuring 'Just Shut Up' and 'Complicated Love Song') released in March this year. 

Benjamin unveiled a solo EP titled 'A Sea That Never Stops' last June and collaborated with Taiwanese rapper J.Sheon on his latest partner-inspired single 'Fresh Feelings'. He also made his foray into the world of comedy with a YouTube series known as The Benzi Project and has amassed a large following on his TikTok channel creating short skits. 


Zubir Abdullah, Fathin Amirah 

Composer, producer, and traditional Malay musician Zubir Abdullah is well-known in the local scene for starting the immensely popular Malay wedding band Orkes Budi, of which his daughter Fathin Amira and singer wife Masayu Johari are members of. His name is often synonymous with the gambus, an oud-like instrument that he frequently plays. Zubir's esteemed musicality has given him opportunities to teach Malay music studies at the National Institute of Education and perform in more than 20 countries around the world.

Coming from such a music-rich family background, it's perhaps no surprise that Fathin has made her foray into the music scene as well. The aspiring singer-songwriter has ranked amongst the top few finalists on popular singing competitions like Singapore Idol and The Final 1. She saw her biggest break in the Filipino singing contest I Love OPM (Original Pinoy Music), where she won herself droves of international fans for her stellar Tagalog performances, despite it not being her mother tongue.


Rahimah Rahim, Rahim Hamid

Rahimah Rahim is arguably one of the most inimitable pop divas to have ever arisen out of Singapore's Malay music scene. Her illustrious singing career took off in 1974 after winning the Kimi Koso Talentime in Tokyo, Japan. As an artist, she has racked up more than 17 albums under her belt. She went into retirement from showbiz in 1989 to spend more time with her family, and made a semi-return to the industry in 2003.

Yet, anyone who knows Rahimah would know she came from a family of celebrated artists. Her father, Rahim Hamid, is a famous singer in the '50s who's been dubbed the 'Nat King Cole of Singapore'. Rahim won multiple national talentime competitions and frequently sang in nightclubs. He often sneakily brought Rahimah to sing with him on stage at these venues, providing her with her first few music forays.


The Lesslars 

Fronted by the two children, 13-year-old Camille (vocals) and 11-year-old Craigston (drums), this Singaporean Eurasian family band is a prime example of the magic that ensues when parents throw in their full support behind their kids' music dreams. 

The Lesslars came about after Camille and her music educator father joined Okto's talentime One Minute of Fame in 2014 and placed second. Parents Monica (bass/keys) and Chris (guitars) also play in the band but told Hear65 in an earlier interview that they leave most of the songwriting to the kids. They recently released their latest single 'All I Need' on major streaming platforms in June. 


Mel and Gabrielle Ferdinands 

After winning Radio Television Singapore's Talentime in 1971 with his younger brother Joe, Mel Ferdinands became a household name known for his unique brand of country-rock music. He was later part of one of the greatest bands in Singapore in the '80s, Gypsy, whose lineup also included his brothers Joe, Don and Dixie.

 

Keeping up with the family's tradition of playing music together, Mel has also performed a few times with his daughter Gabrielle Ferdinands, who is a singer noted for making it to the Top 24 finalists of Singapore Idol 2008. 


Tay Kexin and Tay Kewei 

Singers Tay Kewei and Tay Kexin were born to parents who were Chinese orchestra members, giving them an early exposure to the world of music. The sisters have both launched successful careers as musicians, with Kewei's talent in the erhu scoring her touring gigs with global Mandopop legends David Tao, Wang Leehom and A-mei. Kewei released her latest EP 'Why Don't You Let Go' in April this year.

Kexin sings soprano for one of Singapore's most recognized a cappella groups, MICappella. She's also co-founded Sparkle Live Music, a live music provider, with Kewei and fellow musician Lee Ein Ein. In June, Kexin released her latest single '阿拉斯加海湾', a duet with partner Bernard Wee Shen.  


Lee Wei Song and Lee Si Song

Brothers Wei Song and Si Song are heavyweights in Singapore's Mandopop scene. Not necessarily because they've sold out stadiums with their own performances, but because they are the ones behind many of the homegrown artists who have achieved this remarkable feat today. 

The Lee Wei Song School of Music was set up by its namesake in 1995 and continues to be one of the most sought-after educational institutions for music today, with overseas branches in countries like Taiwan, Malaysia and China. Through their careers as educators, they have mentored stars like Stefanie Sun and Ng Ling Kai who have gone on to take the regional scene by storm.  

The brothers have also written and produced songs for A-listers like Jacky Cheung and Sandy Lam, and composed theme songs for iconic local TV shows such as 'Good Morning Teacher' and 'Samsui Women' earlier on in their careers.  


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