Stars Of SAFRA – Winners All Round!

Children, teens and families gathered together to sing, dance and create art at the Stars of SAFRA (formerly known as SAFRA Lil' Stars) competition.

By Melissa Wee        2 August 2023

This June, the annual Stars of SAFRA competition – formerly known as SAFRA Lil’ Stars – took place at SAFRA Toa Payoh, attracting many children, teenagers and families who were keen to share their singing, dancing and artistic talents and hopefully take home a prize.

There were three categories in all – Visual Arts, Dance, and Vocal – and within each one, sub-categories for different age groups.

We spoke to the winners of each category, asking them to share their Stars of SAFRA experience, from performing in front of a crowd to eventually scoring the top prize.

Vocal Category

Rae Nadya, Winner, Vocal Solo Category C (13-16 years old)

Q: How did you feel performing at Stars of SAFRA?

Rae: It was an incredible experience! I was nervous but excited before stepping on the stage, but as soon as the music started and I began singing, my nerves disappeared. When the crowd started cheering and clapping for me, I was so happy!

Q: What song did you perform for the competition and why did you pick it?

Rae: For the final round, I sang a medley of two of my original songs, Separate Worlds and It’s My Turn. Separate Worlds is about finding common ground with people who are different from you. It’s like saying, “Hey, we might be from separate worlds, but we can still understand each other”. And It’s My Turn is an anthem for being yourself and going after your dreams. I chose these songs because I wanted to show different sides of myself as an artiste and take the audience on a musical journey with me.

Q: What do you love most about singing?

Rae: Singing is my superpower. When I sing, I feel free and alive because all my thoughts and emotions are channelled through the music. I love that I can express myself this way. I try my best to practise daily. Some days I focus on hitting the high notes, and other days I try out different styles and techniques. It’s about pushing myself and growing as an artiste.

Q: How old were you when you realised that you loved to sing?

Rae: I was three years old. My family members were the ones who taught me about melodies, harmonies and music techniques. We are quite a musical family and often have jam sessions at home. Music is how we bond. My family members are my biggest supporters and mentors.

Q: What was your family’s reaction when you won in your category at Stars of SAFRA?

Rae: They were over the moon! They’ve always believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams.

Q: How did you feel when you won?

Rae: It was such an incredible feeling. I was happy and grateful that my hard work paid off. It also filled me with pride, knowing that others appreciated my music. Winning has inspired me to keep creating and sharing my music with others.

Q: Do you plan to carry on singing as a hobby or even as a career when you’re older?

Rae: Absolutely! Music is my life, and I can’t imagine a future without it. Whether it’s just a hobby or something more, I know that music will always be a part of who I am. I want to keep singing, writing songs, and performing for as long as I can. It’s my way of connecting with people, making them feel something, and hopefully inspiring them. As one of my songs says, “I’m holding the future’s hand, running through wonderland, and I’m ready to embrace whatever comes my way!” So yes, I’ll keep chasing my dreams and see where this musical journey takes me.

Dance Category

Ace Family, Winner, Families For Life sub-category

Q: What drew your family to take part in Stars of SAFRA?

Aunt Aminah: Stars of SAFRA was the only competition that allowed us to participate together as a family, despite our different ages. We had several family members take part – Aisha (Mummy), 36, me, 24, Asheeqah (Daughter), 10, Asheeque (Son), 9, Aqeeshah (Daughter), 4, Aqeel (Son), five months, and Nazeera (Second Cousin), 22.

Mummy Aisha: The kids had participated in Stars of SAFRA a couple of times in the past and suggested we join the dance category this year.

Daughter Asheegah: My brother, Asheeque and I just wanted to dance!

Q: Can you tell us about the dance you performed?

Mummy Aisha: We danced to a mash-up of TikTok, hip-hop and Bollywood songs – Cupid, Lose Control, Bounce, Garmi, and 5678. The dance tells the story of what goes on in our house, when the kids are dancing or on TikTok and are told to do their homework. We choreographed the dance steps together.

Aunt Aminah: Parents tend to be strict with their kids at home, especially when it comes to getting them to focus on their schoolwork. The dance is about putting that aside for a while to bond and have fun together as a family.

Q: How long did your family take to rehearse the dance steps?

Daughter Asheeqah: It took us two or three days to get the moves right.

Q: Is dancing together something your family enjoys doing?

Aunt Aminah: Yes, we love to dance when we have extra time to spare.

Mummy Aisha: Definitely, and we especially enjoyed dancing at Stars of SAFRA because the younger kids could get involved and try their own moves.

Q: What was it like to perform in front of others and then take home the big prize?

Aunt Aminah: It was a great experience! We didn’t set out to win; we just wanted to have fun as a family.

Mummy Aisha: I was nervous because I hadn’t performed on stage in a long time. It was exciting to put on a show with my family members, and especially my kids. Winning was not our main goal but we’re thankful we won!

Daughter Asheeqah: We didn’t expect to win, so it was a wonderful surprise.

Visual Arts Category

Calico Chow, Winner, Category A (4-7 years old)

Calico Chow (far right)

Q: What made you want to join the competition?

Calico: I love to draw and colour. My father told me about this competition and asked my sister and me if we wanted to take part in it, and we said yes.

Q: Can you tell me about the picture you coloured and how you decided on what colours to use?

Calico: It’s a picture about space. I used white and different shades of blue. I blended the colours to make the picture look prettier. My favourite was the astronaut because I added shadows and didn’t know the end result would look so cool. I also liked the big gold star under him.

Q: What do you love most about creating your own artworks?

Calico: I love having the freedom to draw whatever I want. I draw things that I’ve seen before and I can even recreate images from my favourite fairy tales.

Q: What are your favourite colours to use?

Calico: All colours, especially pink, purple, blue and white. I love to blend these to create new and interesting shades. I’m not a fan of grey, brown and black, though.

Q: How did you feel when you won in your category at Stars of SAFRA?

Calico: Excited! I didn’t know I won the top prize. I thought I’d won the third prize because I was the third to go up on stage.

Q: How did your family support you during the competition?

Calico: My parents helped me prepare my drawing materials, water bottle and jacket (because the competition venue was a little cold).

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