Dick Lee turns on the tap as he lets his hits flow, along with wit, senior moments, and liberal jibes at the powers that be. By Kannan Chandran
Dick Lee has been on a quest to understand what it means to be Singaporean. Over the decades, his music has incorporated things Singaporean to try and be one with the citizenry. The early years were not easy for Dick, as he tried to connect with a nation finding its way and a government that was quick to put down any potential cultural deviant behaviour that veered from a prescribed path.
Despite this, his output has been relatively prodigious and his staying power has to be saluted. The Dick Lee songbook comprises some gems that have struck home with their poppy tones, catchy melodies and Singaporean lyrics. Home comes to mind, along with Fried Rice Paradise and a selection of other hits, that he performed onstage at his 60th birthday celebration, Dick Lee Singapop, on Friday evening, as part of the inaugural Icon Series, presented by The RICE Company.
In four decades, Dick has amassed a vast catalogue of songs for albums and musical theatre. There have been a few gems in an otherwise patchy output, but that’s a lot more than most Singaporeans have been able to muster while spinning a music tale.
In that time, Dick has also amassed many friends, some of whom shared the stage at the Star Vista Theatre. They ranged from industry old hands like ex-spouse Jacintha Abisheganaden, his three brothers, and friend Kit Chan to the fresher talent of Alemay Fernandez, After Six and ShiGGa Shay.
Dick seemed on a quest to expose new talent — something he didn’t enjoy as he made his initial forays into the industry — trotting out Govinda Tan, a young tabla percussionist, Dru Chen and several others to share in the moment. While it felt like a mini Singapore Has Talent show, it helped to add variety to the proceedings.
In between the showcasing of talent, Dick wove in anecdotes from his life journey. His wit and charm quite evident as he pranced about, the spritely sexagenarian who will always enjoy the limelight.