Andrea Khoo has been shaping Singapore’s music landscape through her work at the National Arts Council—an achievement that won her a National Day Award in 2022. The CityWorship keyboardist shares her journey.
Some Christians take decades to discover their calling in life, but not Andrea Khoo. When she was around 4, “I started out like any other kid attending music classes at Yamaha Music School, but instead of attending a few years of Junior Music Class like most kids do, I finished playing the books for all the levels within my first year!” she recalls.
Her parents wisely took her out of that class and enrolled her in formal piano lessons, and Andrea started serving with her musical gift during Sunday school at St Andrew’s Cathedral when she was just 6 years old. “I’ve been playing in the worship team ever since,” she says. “In school assemblies, youth ministry, main services, conferences etc.”
Being involved in music came naturally to Andrea—her parents never forced it on her—but it took a while for her to realise it was more than just talent.
“Through the years of serving, I came to realise that worship ministry is a calling from God—it has come back again and again, through different seasons of my life and in different places,” says Andrea. “During my university years, I tried to run away from it because I wanted to serve in other areas I saw my friends serving in, but God spoke to me clearly one day through the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah too ran away and God met him in a very personal way through a gentle whisper, and gave him the strength to go through with God’s call and assignment for him. I felt God speak to me through that passage that worship is his calling and destiny for me. Since then, I have never looked back or pursued other areas of service.”
DEVELOPING SINGAPORE’S MUSIC SCENE
In January this year, Andrea received the Commendation Medal at the National Day Awards, a ceremony that marks the achievements of public service officers in Singapore.
“I currently lead the music sector team in the performing arts department,” she explains. “I have been involved with funding and policy work at NAC for 11 years now, supporting the growth of the music industry and Singaporean musicians through various funding schemes and strategic initiatives.”
Andrea’s work involves supporting musicians in their projects, from staging concerts, to producing albums and touring internationally. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, I was part of a task force that managed safe management measures for the arts sector—it was a nightmare when everything shut down!” she shares. “We also had to quickly roll out several Covid support schemes that provided funding for digital productions and other projects so that arts companies and freelancers could continue to work.”
The contemporary music scene in Singapore has been blossoming in the last decade. Acts like Charlie Lim, Linying, Nathan Hartono, Gentle Bones, Aisyah Aziz and many more have been garnering a following and packing out concert venues. Andrea is happy to have been part of this development through her work.
“While we support a whole array of music, my portfolio for a number of years was specifically in growing the contemporary music scene here—everything from indie, pop, rock to jazz and experimental music,” she says. “I love supporting original music and watching that grow so much across the entire scene over the past decade has been one of my greatest joys.”
The creation of an online music platform for local artistes is something she is especially proud of. “My team started Hear65, which celebrates and promotes all kinds of local music across genres and languages – this is definitely one of the highlights of my job!” she says.
Her obvious enthusiasm for what she does brought her the high honour of the National Day Award. “It was a complete surprise to me!” she says. “I woke up on National Day and found my name in the newspapers! In fact, my father-in-law was the first to spot it and congratulate me—that’s how I found out. It’s the first national award I’ve received, it’s a huge honour.”
SERVING GOD, LOVING ARTISTS
Andrea and her husband Reginald, who works in procurement in a packaging company, first visited CHC in July 2011.
“At that time, I had just left my full-time role as a staff member in a church, where I was a music director leading the worship ministry for more than seven years,” she shares.
“We were coming out of a long season of serving and wanted some time and space to figure out our next steps. We were open to finding a new home church. As we had already been wanting to visit CHC for some time, we thought it would be a good time to visit,” she explains.
After attending CHC’s services for six months, Andrea and her husband were in church when Pastor Kong Hee taught a series on the Church Introductory Course, a beginner’s Bible study teaching for all new members. “The series was very meaningful and gave us a good understanding of CHC’s vision and values,” Andrea remembers. “We really resonated with what Pastor Kong shared! At the end of the series, he gave an invitation to those visiting the church to consider staying for a year and to consider making CHC their home church. We responded to that call and decided to stay. This is now our 12th year in CHC—I can’t believe time has flown by so quickly.”
In 2014, the couple started serving in CityWorship—Andrea on keyboards and Reginald on bass guitar—and still do today. Members in Pastor Lin Junxian’s zone, they host cell group meetings at their home and serve in cell group worship.
To Andrea, receiving the National Day Award exceeded her expectations entirely. “To be honest, I feel completely floored and humbled by this [award],” she admits. “Being someone who grew up in church and whose music experience largely came from being in church, I never expected that God would give me this great opportunity in my work to serve and nurture musicians beyond the church walls, let alone be recognised for it!
“I hope to let musicians and creatives know that they matter, and what they bring to the world through their art is precious.”