Trained engineer Jon Chong is a singer-songwriter, husband and father all rolled into one.
Contributed By Bernie Guan
At age 18, Jon Chong started to write songs, from original praise and worship music to introspective pieces that expressed his thoughts and experiences. While he enjoyed penning his own songs, his own personal song-writing breakthrough happened after he felt “challenged by God to write for a broader audience.” Curious to see how far he could go, he took part in the annual Mic-Check song-writing/poetry competition in the midst of his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005.
Emerging the winner, Chong was inspired to develop his craft; in spite of the rigors of his studies and dissertation work in robotics engineering, Chong found time to write songs. Upon his return to Singapore in 2008, the Kuching-born Chong released his self-funded debut album, State Of My Mind, produced by Joshua Wan, who has been producer for the likes of Stefanie Sun and Fish Leong.
Since the release of the first album, Chong has progressed to experimenting with the ukulele, mandolin, rap vocals, scatting and even vocoder music, a popular synthesizer sound from the 1960s. His eight-track sophomore album, Beauty In The Small Things is a easy-listening set comprising pop-tinged jazz melodies underriding lyrics of nostalgic memories and soulful yearnings.
Currently based in Singapore, Chong was recently Starbucks’ Featured Artist, bringing his original compositions such as “When Will I See You?”, “Here With Me” and “Lazy Days” to the local coffee-drinking community through several acoustic performances.
Over the years, he has traveled to and lived in many cities including New York, Boston, Tokyo and Moscow. As he embraced the cultural diversity in each of the cities, he enjoyed a “rich palette of life experiences, which have undoubtedly colored my songs.”
Viewing music as “a natural extension of who he is,” he is candid in exploring themes about life and love for his wife and artist manager, Belinda Lau and their 11-month-old baby girl, Justine.
Hip-hop artist Neli Atiga whose vocals appear on “Legacy” said, “It was a privilege and honor to work with Jon as he is definitely one of those guys who is a light in the darkness.” Besides holding him in high regard as a musician and a song-writer, Atiga hopes that “more people who need to hear his songs will hear them.”
Three years after launching his musical career, Chong believes that he has gained invaluable experiences that outweigh the cost of producing his two albums. Whether it is writing, recording songs or sending out his CDs to record polls, “it takes a lot of work and discipline to formalize one’s album,” he says.
Beauty In The Small Things is available at Attributes, the Esplanade Shop and all Starbucks outlets (from now till Jan. 4, 2012). www.jonchong.com.