Katy Perry joins more than 90 diverse artistes in a concert with a difference that will be livestreamed from Tokyo.
There are about two dozen Singaporeans on the organising team, led by two of the show’s chief organizers — Executive Producer/Creative and Music Director Dr Sydney Tan and Executive Producer Audrey Perera.
Also in the Singapore team are singer-composer Dick Lee, whose is Stage Director, and Art Director Yang Derong.
While A-lister American pop star Katy Perry will be a major draw, she will be in excellent company with the singers, dancers and musicians from 13 countries.
She said she wanted to be part of this inspiring event because of the spirit and uniqueness of the Festival’s message and the opportunity to share the stage with all these diverse artistes.
This concert in Tokyo was to be the pinnacle of the True Colors Festival, and taking place alongside the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. While plans had commenced in 2019, everything was thrown into a state of uncertainty when the pandemic happened.
Audrey recalls how during this time (March 2020-June 2022) this “humongous animal was managed remotely”.
Sydney recalls communicating, rehearsing and recording over Zoom and WhatsApp across multiple time zones throughout the day. Google Translate was used for real-time translations.
He wanted to create short films to accompany the performances to give the audience “a glimpse of the incredible lives of all the artistes”. But the Singapore film-makers couldn’t travel so they collaborated with other film-makers overseas to get the job done.
Despite their years of experience organising large-scale events, the concert preparation raised the level of engagement to new heights. There were chat groups created with each artiste or group and the Singapore team, and with regular communications, bonding and feelings of friendship emerged naturally.
Delighted and awed by the creativity that could fill a room during his music creation sessions with rapper Sparsh Shah and his mother/producer Jigisha, Sydney asked himself, “Is this the boy who was told he only had 48 hours to live because of brittle-bone disease?”
Rachel Starritt the blind pianist from Wales also floored them. Sydney had suggested that she play Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude Opus 10; a very challenging piece in terms of technique and musicality. Normally this would have taken 4-6 months to master, but Rachel learnt it by ear, memorised and nailed it within three weeks!
Audrey is the Singapore-based producer behind WOMAD Singapore festival at Fort Canning which ran for 10 years. That experience, she shared, certainly paved the way and somewhat prepared her for her involvement in True Colors Festival.
She was appointed to helm the Asia Pacific edition which took place in Singapore in 2018. At the time, it was the largest festival of its kind.
She envisioned and directed it, presenting about 200 artistes with disabilities from more than 20 countries over a three-day weekend that included a live indoor concert and a festival village with outdoor performances, interactive activities designed to break barriers and create greater understanding about disability. The theme was See Ability. Respect Talent.
In order to do their best to “walk the talk”, all of the more than 200 staff, crew and volunteers underwent a short training course in disability awareness.
But this Tokyo concert experience was unique, she emphasises: “We became aware of sensitizing. We worked across distance, cultural and language differences.”
“So many questions have arisen for me as I worked on this project. Would I have the strength and resolve that I see in these artistes to believe so fully in myself?”
Some gems articulated by the artistes have also left an indelible mark in Audrey’s heart.
Kenta Kambara: “If you can’t walk with your legs; it’s ok to walk with your hands.”
Husnain, founder of Indian dance group We are One: “They said I can’t dance. That I can’t do what I love. (He had polio). But why can’t I? We are all the same. We are one.”
Luca Lazylegz Patuelli, dancer and founder of Ill Abilities: “My father always taught me that the greatest failure is not to try.”
Mandy Harvey: (when asked in an interview to list five things she wished somebody had told her when she first started): “I wish somebody would have said that the world puts you in a box of limited potential, but you are the only person who can trap yourself in that box.”
Audiences at the True Colors concert will experience a line-up of the highest calibre in a show that delivers on emotion, talent and energy while showing the world that we are One World, One Family, the theme of this year’s event.
Representing Singapore at the Tokyo show is Rapper Wheelsmith whose real name is Danial Bawthan.
Danial, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age four, has performed at the 2019 National Day Parade and the 2018 True Colors Festival and has represented Singapore in wheelchair rugby.
For the concert finale, featuring all the artistes, Wheelsmith has contributed a rap for his segment.
Meanwhile do check out the YouTube videos of the artistes performing at TCF THE CONCERT 2022. Here are my favourites:
TCF THE CONCERT 2022 will be livestreamed worldwide for free.
Date: 19 Nov 2022(Sat)
Time: 5:00 pm SGT / 6:00 pm JST
Date: 20 Nov 2022 (Sun)
Time: 4:00 pm SGT / 5:00 pm JST
Approximately 2.5 hours