Couple Eric and Careen Wong put Jesus at the center of their successful music business.
Eric Wong and his wife, Careen, are familiar faces at City Harvest Church. He is a conductor for The Millennial Orchestra, and she is a backup vocalist in the music team. Outside of church, the Wongs are owners of United Music, a center for music education, and United Records, a music production house.
United Music’s education programs are built to develop recording artistes. Vocal students do not merely learn techniques and take graded exams, they are exposed to the rudiments of a professional studio recording. The Wongs strongly believe this is the key multiplier to vocal development: students, some as young as 5, get their recordings uploaded on YouTube, and they can observe themselves improving over time. Guitar and piano lessons are also offered.
Eric and Careen believe in developing Singaporean talent: raising up local artistes who can hold their own in the industry. United Records is their platform for doing just that. Eric’s versatile background—classical, pop rock, song production, movie-making—enables the business to meet myriad music production needs. United does support work for top production houses, and has served as audio production house for notable TV programs like EBuzz (AXN, Sony Pictures Entertainment), various TV commercials, and the station theme song of radio station UFM 100.3. Closer to home, the Wongs were behind the production of CHC’s Dialect Church worship album and Chinese Church Live worship series.
Life at United Records is always a fun time. Last month, the Wongs hosted four Members of Parliament who recorded a National Day song at United: Png Eng Huat, Lee Li Lian, Baey Yam Keng, and Teo Ser Luck.
“Mr Teo was such a fun guy, I could not imagine that he’s a minister of state,” laughs Eric. “I was very appreciative that a man of his stature could have so much fun in meeting people like us. He noted that we are a happy bunch and really have passion in what we are doing, and he encouraged us to keep on going. He even gave us some tips and ideas on how we can get SME support from the government.”
Eric says United’s success is the product of the whole team. “We have an amazing team, including Dylan Soh, our audio engineer and Pamela Choo, our vocal coach. Another very vital part of the company is my brother Ryan Wong. He is an amazing musician, composer, arranger and guitarist, and he’s one of the major pillars in all our operations. He’s currently in the School Of Theology and the music director of the SOT praise and worship team.”
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE
The couple, who met in Secondary Four, were both school band members and both have had a lifelong love affair with music. They began their journey in Christ together in the late ‘90s.
“Careen was a lukewarm Christian and I was rather anti-Christ. But when I came to CHC and saw how fervently the people were worshiping their God, I was pretty convinced by His reality. I accepted Christ then in November 1998, and Careen also rededicated her life that day.” They wed in 2004 and today, have two children, Jordan and Megan.
Their journey to founding United began in 2002 when they formed a praise and worship band for their church zone, called Dreamfactory. Dreamfactory began playing in venues outside church, including Hard Rock Café and the Esplanade, and in 2008, the band participated in Channel U’s Superband. This became their turning point: they released their first EP in 2009. The Wongs decided they should turn their passion into a business and help others produce music. In January 2012, they officially opened United Music and United Records.
The Wongs are now producing a feature film called Eter9ity, 天场地9 together with movie director Kelvin Sng, a Singapore love story depicting the nine emotional journeys of a real couple’s life. United Records is also currently working Sng and David Liu on the production of the film I Am Jonathan, due for release in 2014.
From securing their current office to every single business dealing, the Wongs have a deep conviction that all their success these past 19 months has only been possible by God’s hand. Placing Jesus in the center of all their business decisions, the Wongs say they spend time seeking the Lord and His direction before coming to any decision.
Their beliefs have been built through many years of discipleship in CHC, they say, such as excellence in the workplace (Dr. AR Bernard) and the Cultural Mandate.
Says Eric, “Whenever we need something, we will always allow God to work and not demand we have our way. We submit our heart’s desires to Him and when He is the one to make it come to pass, He gets the glory.”