Interview: Anne Weerapass

How did you get into jazz?
As a little kid, I remember always humming and singing along to songs. When I was old enough, I took part in TCS Talentime. I didn’t win but that sparked an interest in becoming a professional singer. I joined various pop bands like Frenzy Friends with Othman Hamzar, Eurasia, Hangloose and Rubberband. Then, I went solo with hotel gigs. The first hotel gig I did at the Hilton Hotel Singapore wanted me to include more jazz songs in my repertoire and that’s when I discovered all the jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson and Natalie Cole.
You also market jazz acts for Blu Jaz Cafe. How do you juggle both that and performing?
I am fortunate that my working hours still allow me to perform at night. Performances don’t usually start till 9:30pm (I finish work at 8pm at the office). It’s tiring but very satisfying to be able to do both.
How do you relax and unwind?
I find pleasure in cooking and inviting friends and family over for meals after work or on weekends. I bake too (hence the extra weight…). I taught my Caucasian partner how to play mahjong and we’ve been playing quite often. It’s a perfect night of relaxation: dinner and mahjong!
Tell us about some of your favorite gigs.
I love open air gigs at Sentosa Island, by the beach, as well as Fort Canning Park. Usually these gigs have dance floors for the audience to groove and party along.
What is one funny incident that happened while you were performing?
Back in the 1990s, I was on this big stage at least six feet above the ground. There I was dancing away. But the smoke machine made the stage slippery. I went flying and landed on my ass. I ripped my skirt and sprained my ankle. My foot went under one of the stairs on stage. My colleagues couldn’t stop laughing and all I could do was pick myself up, go backstage to straighten up, and reappear like nothing happened.
What do you think of the Singapore jazz scene?
Singapore is such a small country, we’re fortunate to even have a jazz scene. But I do wish we would have a proper school of jazz open to musicians as well as singers. At present, those who wish to hone their craft have to be able to afford an overseas program, which makes it very difficult.
Anne Weerapass performs September 14, 9:30pm at the The Sultan Hotel.