Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
Clinton Jerome Chua is a 27-year-old singer from Miri, Sarawak. Growing up, his dream was to become a singer.
Clinton has loved singing since he was 2 years old. Born in Miri, he is of Chinese and Melanau descent.
He started belting out chords when he was only 2 years old. From school and church choir, followed by various singing competitions, he hustled with a single-minded dream.
Gradually, Clinton carved a name for himself on the local music scene as a singer.
In 2015, he joined a singing contest organized by Universal Music Malaysia and Hitz.fm, and won a trip to Japan to watch Ariana Grande’s concert. He took his mom with him.
Meeting Ariana Grande
“We were at the meet and greet, and I was too giddy to say anything, so my mum asked Ariana if I could sing to her.“
The video has been uploaded on Youtube, and as of Dec 2020 it has almost 500,000 views.
“Meeting Ariana means the world to me because I grew up listening to her music. I began following her when she just started out,” Clinton said.
“Ariana and I are both the same age, so to watch someone my age obtain so much success gives me hope that I can achieve similar greatness too,” he said sincerely.
Being on I Can See Your Voice Malaysia
Earlier in 2020, he was on I Can See Your Voice Malaysia, the Malaysian adaptation of the South Korean mystery music game show of the same name.
In the show, a guest artist is presented with a group of 6 ‘mystery singers’. With clues like photos, videos, as well as lip-sync performances, the guest artist and a celebrity panel eliminates ‘imposters’ from the group until only one surviving mystery singer is left.
In one episode, Clinton became the one surviving mystery singer, and he performed a duet with the guest artist, Shila Amzah, wowing the audience.
How did he learn to sing like that?
“Lots and lots of practice. I make it a habit to sing songs originally performed by females. That’s how I train.”
Do people get surprised by his vocal register?
“Sometimes they do. Some people would not believe that it’s me singing—I don’t know why haha!”
“I do get instances when people would just stare at me and not believe what’s coming out of my mouth.”
His performance on ICSYVMY boosted Clinton’s fanbase. A big percentage of them are Sarawakians who are pleased to see themselves represented on the national stage.
Pre-Covid, Clinton was living a hectic life, performing gig after gig. “It was show after show. I did not have time to be truly creative.”
Then Covid-19 happened.
And life came to a screeching halt for Clinton.
His regular shows got cancelled or postponed. And when his gigs dried up, the money did too.
“As I speak, my bank account has never looked worse,” he admitted with a bitter laugh.
“My head is barely above water, and to be honest, it’s really taking a big toll on me. I have commitments to attend to.”
Still, Clinton is staying positive and believes that things will get better.
A mantra he observes is: “This is just a season and it too shall pass.”
What really helped is making original music
“Suddenly, I had all this time on my hands. So I started to create. I dropped two music videos since the pandemic started, and also my latest single, Ain’t Nobody Else.”
“When fans listen to my music, an accumulated number of streams convert into royalties. Every month, I earn up to 100 USD (RM 400) from Spotify and YouTube.”
“I’m really thankful to people who listen to my music, because that’s what’s helping me pay my bills now.”
At the end of November 2020, his song Ain’t Nobody Else made it to the third spot on Rakita.my’s listener-voted #LOKALAH Chart Show.
A second source of income for Clinton
Clinton, like many others because of this pandemic, has learned not to depend solely on only one source of income.
“I respect and appreciate the hard work musicians put into their craft, but one source of income is not enough in this economy.”
3 years ago, Clinton started creating content for brands. He’s tied to social media agencies that engage his services for promotional work. This helps him make ends meet.
Did singing prepare him as a social media influencer?
“As a singer, my craft and who I am is like a brand — singing has taught me to present myself better when it comes to working with brands and their campaigns.”
As more people are stuck at home, there’s been a rise in e-commerce, which translates into increased business for social media agencies.
And Clinton is grateful for that.
Ariana Grande’s advice for Clinton was:
“You’re gonna get a lot of no’s, but keep going.”
Similarly, he encourages those with singing aspirations to just go for it.
If I could give advice to my younger self, I’d tell him: “Don’t settle on only making music. Be sure to venture into other things too like business, or other passions. The world is your oyster.”
Clinton is hopeful about the future and is on the lookout for new opportunities.
For more stories like this, read: After Malaysia’s Borders Were Closed, Here’s What 5 Pilots Are Doing To Survive and The MOH Called Me After My Neighbour Tested Positive. Here’s What Happened.
More from Career & Skills
It had never occurred to teenage-me how challenging adulthood could be, but I suppose it takes being 26 now to …