Caroline Tjen shares the touching story behind the launch of her debut album Because Of Love.
For Indonesian singer, songwriter and pianist Caroline Tjen, her love for her mother, Suzie Sarmili, is her biggest motivation for the launch of her debut album, Because Of Love. While none of the songs in the seven-track album were written specifically for her 62 year-old mother, it is a collective labor of love to raise funds for her cancer treatment.
Tjen recalls the initial moments when her mother was first diagnosed with cancer. They had sought treatment in Singapore last September, but the little savings that she had were not sufficient for the entire treatment. Soon, the hefty financial cost proved too heavy for her to bear and she could only cry out to God. And yet, it was at the lowest point in her life, when Tjen knew that it was not the kind of life God wanted her to live. “As it is written in the Bible, Christ came to give us life more abundantly.” With that seed of faith sown in her heart, Tjen picked herself up with a single-mindedness to use her talent in song-writing to do what she does best—make music.
Since then, “every step had been a new miracle,” and the affable singer-songwriter in her 30s held her head high and embarked on producing an album. Tjen says, “I am no Christina Aguilera or Whitney Houston, with neither a big name nor a big voice” but she knew God was going to use her, as “an ordinary person to do an extraordinary work.”
Upon hearing her story, many of her friends, including fellow Indonesian Jusuf Winardil and music producer Chris Chuah, came on board to help; the former took on the role of the album’s music arranger. Many others lent their vocal skills—the album also features Filipino celebrity Robert Sunga, Indonesian worship pastor Sidney Mohede and CHC’s very own worship leaders, Alison Yap, Annabel Soh and Sendy Bolang. It was their gestures of love, on top of their words of encouragement, which saw her through the entire process of putting the album together. The finished product was well worth it—not only did Tjen gain much confidence in the past few months of recording, she also found the strength to carry on in spite of the challenges.
On the album, Tjen showcases her versatility by venturing into the musical genre of easy listening, a slight departure from the more typical sounds of contemporary Christian music some might know her for; Tjen wrote the tracks “A Heart After You” and “Come Holy Spirit” for CHC’s 2005 praise and worship album Cross, both of which reached number one in the Top 10 CHC Original Song List during this year’s Asia Conference.
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
The album comprises five English and two Indonesian songs, all originally composed. One can hear the strength of hope in Tjen’s voice as she sings on the title track, “Because Of Love,” easily holding the listener captive with a soaring chorus of encouragement and empowerment. One of the freshest and most distinctive tracks, “CintaMu Tiada Tertandingi” (“Your Love Compares To None Other”), combines elements of salsa and worship, written when she accompanied her mother to one of her chemotherapy sessions.
Following the launch of her album, she has traveled under the sponsorship of Oops! Asia to several churches in Perth, Australia to perform earlier this month. The purpose of raising funds aside, Tjen hopes that her album will “encourage those who are in the midst of their challenges, and that if Caroline hasn’t given up, they shouldn’t give up as well.”
Although her mother’s last medical report had not been very positive, with the cancer spreading over her lungs, both Tjen and her mother are not waving the white flag. Navigating the road ahead, all Tjen knows is that she will pray the best she knows how to, work as hard as she is able to, love as deeply as is possible, and put the rest in God’s hands.
Because Of Love is now available at Attributes Retail Outlets. Meet Caroline Tjen in person during autograph sessions at Attributes at Expo Hall 8 on Oct. 16 and 17. Log on to www.carolinetjen.com for upcoming details on public performances and music showcases, and stay tuned for updates.