Life as a Wedding Singer: Ruth Kueo Miaoru

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(Photo Courtesy of Ruth Kueo)

Ask any wedding singer which song is a must-sing at weddings, the answer would almost definitely be: Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart” (月亮代表我的心).

But of course, the song list, which usually comprises of more than 20 songs, is more varied and challenging than just crooning crowd pleasers like the above-mentioned timeless 70s ballad, as the professionals would explain. In multiracial and multi-lingual Singapore, wedding singers need to be well-versed in music of different genres and be more than just effectively bilingual.

And for Ruth Kueo Miaoru, overcoming hurdles of singing in dialects especially, involves lots of hard work.

“Languages I’m not familiar with are, for example, Hokkien and Cantonese. I started to romanise those languages so that I could pronounce them as accurately as possible while singing. But this also meant I had to spend time jotting down the Romanised form of every word in the song.

It was also difficult to deal with song genres I’m not too familiar with, e.g. authentic jazz tunes and really old evergreen classics, but this pushed me to listen to more songs and expose myself to more genres.”

The challenges of being a wedding singer don’t end there, but the sweet-faced 22-year-old who has sung at more than 100 weddings so far, remains undeterred. Apart from compliments and feedback from guests who have heard her sing, what fuels Ruth on is her passion for music.

Having participated in various singing competitions around the region like Taiwan’s “One Million Star” and singing demos for famous Mandopop stars like JJ Lin, the NUS graduate embarked on a journey to make music her career upon graduation. Ruth’s first baby step was the founding of her own company, White Ribbon Live Music.

“Music is my passion. I set up White Ribbon Live Music because I thought it will be a really great idea to make a living out of it. A live band company which provides live music for weddings and corporate events allow me to make a decent income and at the same time, with this stability, it gives me the freedom to continue to pursue music and establish myself as an artiste/singer.”

Now armed with experience, Ruth is ready to take the next step into realizing her dream. Soon, her debut EP with 4 of Ruth’s very own compositions, will be released! We spoke to the petite girl with the courage to dream big, about her experiences as a wedding singer and singer-songwriter in the local music scene.

W&T: Do you remember the first wedding you performed at? How was the experience?
Ruth: Very meaningful. I could still remember the couple’s name. It was pretty nerve wrecking as it was in one of the luxurious hotel in Singapore, with a very big ballroom (St. Regis) and many distinguished guests. Meaningful and fulfilling when you hear compliments from the many guests, and keeps you going after that.

W&T: Can you let us in on some of the hard work as a wedding singer that people outside the trade don’t know?
Ruth: Learning songs one by one and having to sing 25 songs in a wedding, is different from singing just one song in a competition or performing one song in a showcase. We have got to keep up with the stamina and deliver every song to the nicest possible. During peak periods when I get back to back wedding gigs, it is easily 50 songs in a day and stamina is really important.

Singaporeans are rather passive crowds, hence in a dinner setting at a wedding celebration, we don’t really get much applause as compared to when we sing at my regular bistro bar performing outlets, but we just have to get used to it and do our best to smile and entertain the couple’s guest during the joyous occasion.

W&T: Many wedding singers have gone on to release their own material and music they put out tend to be happy and optimistic. Will yours be the same?
Ruth: I will actually have more sad love ballads in my EP! However, I always try to have a sense of lingering hope in my lyrics so as to create a hopeful image.

W&T: What have you learnt in the process of producing your album?
Ruth: (I’ve learnt that) album making is a time consuming yet fruitful process! From writing melody, to writing lyrics, recording demo, arrangement, actual recording, backup vocals, all of these take up a lot of time but the results are very fulfilling, especially when you see the final product.

And regarding producing an album, I realise the final product must represent yourself and I believe people will only be able to feel the sincerity in your music if you are comfortable with your own music style, so, it’s the best to be yourself, and be comfortable in your own skin.

To know more about Ruth Kueo Miaoru, pop by her site (www.ruthkueomiaoru.com/) or facebook (facebook.com/ruthmiaoru) to learn instant updates on her performances and upcoming EP.