Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Never-ending Days of Dying

The days when you don't know where sadness begins and ends,
The air holds still and heavy...
You don't know where fatigue starts and where sleepiness ends,
where hunger and anger meets;
You lie there,
wide-eyed and gasping silently,
how emptiness of the heart slowly but surely eating away the heartbeat.
The rhythm of the heartbeat slows and quickens, irregular and panicky.
Cold sweat gathers in the heat of the balmy hours.
Your palms sticky with weariness,
the running tap wouldn't and couldn't wash it away.
You can't wash yourself away.
Or wish your existence away.
You just lie there,
wide-eyed and suffer in silence.
It's 3am.

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Monday, May 02, 2016

Letters number one hundred and thirty: The days go on

Dearest J,

I don't know if you have ever stopped in your track, and think...everyday, at every juncture of predicament and challenge in your way - you are learning how to live.

Does it ever get tiring, I am refraining from asking you questions because I know I have to answer everything myself.  The answers come much later down the road.  They will come.

The way I see my life now is in two parts, the one with you in it and the one AFTER you.  Honestly, in the most ironic, perhaps morbid and unromantic way - I feel like I've only start to 'live' this life after you left.  It feels like the life with you before was my university years, preparing me for the real thing after you go.  After you let go of your firm and reassuring grip on me.

Off I go.  It still feels like sometimes such a tiresome chore to be treading this road of life.  At most times I look around and see so much to be thankful for - even without anyone to hold on to.  Isn't it so true, that we come into this world alone and we go alone.  With families and closest of friends, we are always, all the time alone, inside ourselves.

Here I am J, coming to my second album soon; surviving the big unknown again.  Still feeling almost lost in looking for my voice, still looking, at my 11th year of working in music; still looking for myself at my 39th year of being alive.  And oh, learning in giving my body and my mind to the pleasure of the flesh a second chance, learning from scratch in becoming a woman again.  Learning new tricks to pick myself up each time I fall prey to fear and doubts, learning to listen to old advice like a trusted therapist.

And I do feel oh so lazy some days, a lot of days.  My laziness drive me to the kitchen, and proceed to intoxicate my mind with cooking...a pot of tea and some snacks and open pages in books, cleaning up the corners of the flat, dusting off books piled on the shelves, more eating and drinking tea in bed and sofa, more cooking...

And oh, I have finally caught up with you in the running/jogging.  I enjoy a run outside, whether alone or with friends.  The haze in the city has been bad each season and our clear sky days are quite numbered so that is quite an annoying deterrent for running outside.  I have learned how to do breast stroke proper, I enjoy swimming nowadays.  I have started a daily morning workout routine at home after I make my bed, this started after my birthday just more than a week ago.

Still lots to learn J. To stay constantly motivated to stay alive and be better in things.  I am slow but I never stop.

Feel good to talk to you.  Just needed to let this out so I can go on.

Much love, thinking of you,


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Monday, March 14, 2016

The Dancer in me

I have always loved dancing, ever since I vaguely know what dancing is, or looks like - in my tender age of primary school going years; in my small hometown with a shrouded view of performance arts and entertainment.

For me then, to be able to move gracefully and skilfully is power, almost like a super power, or special talent.  In my little head, I think the people I saw on the TV screen strutting their stuff are attractive and powerful people who can get what they want in life - because they are such beautiful dancers.  I don't know how or where I got that idea from but it just happened.

After my sister left home to work in the city, I had our bedroom to myself.  In the middle of that small bedroom - was my dance floor.  That tiny patch of 5x4 feet was where I dance - or moved my body according to whatever little "received pronunciation" I had back then for dance.  I would dance to the music they played on Radio 4, or on my cassettes; seeing the image of a beautiful dance in my head.  Sometimes I watch the reflection of myself in the glass window, I could see it better in the evening when the lights are on in my room.

In high school I remember performing at our annual Girl Guides and Scouts concerts..or some other school outings, I especially remember rehearsing and working hard to dance to songs like Janet Jackson's Black Cat, Mariah Carey's Dream Lover, and something by Black Machine.  Haha..

It was really pure joy and fun to dance back then, when there was no one to examine us, compare us (and me), and correcting our moves.  I in fact cannot even remember who were the choreographers, must have been one of our schoolmates.  But I remember in my mind our choreography were sophisticated - for us teenagers from Chinese school in Taiping.

I guess if singing is the thing I do to define my vocation in life, then dancing would something I do to show the world the inner child in me, the person who loves to play.

Ironically, many years after I played hard in dancing to Janet Jackson's songs I came to understand how much training, discipline and handwork is needed to 'play' it well.  This understanding came after attending weekly dance classes for years, what I do for fun.

The one thing that I always feel a little embarrassed to admit is that I have more fun in dance classes than my singing classes (perhaps not being a professional dancer is one of the reasons).  Sure, I have my fair share of frustrations in dance classes too with catching up with choreography, with technique and all that but it doesn't come close to the amount of fun and joy I get in dancing in a class - it all makes up for it.

Then, about two to three years ago I started watching myself dancing in videos - be it in classes or rehearsal for love performances and musicals.  The sight of myself dancing was a gross monstrosity to my eyes because the captured performance is honest and transparent, all my flaws are pronounced. I was puzzled and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out why I look horrible on videos even if I felt great dancing a piece of music.  By that time my ability to remember and to learn choreography has improved a lot so it wasn't that I couldn't do it, I just look horrible doing it.  Ok, if not terribly horrible, I look weird, stiff, and not convincing.  Funnily, I didn't go to my dance teacher then to ask her why, I showed my friend my videos and asked her.  Callista is a part time Latin dancer and an old friend and she is generous with her knowledge and sharing.  She watched me dance and saw my videos and told me my upper back is crazy stiff. "All the movements that involve working your back, curling and such, you don't `finish' the moves properly - hence it looks not so nice."  Callista told me it is something I can work on to overcome.  "Ok, got it!"

And then I started noticing my bowleggedness. This 'cacatness' affect the aesthetics of my movement and postures in dancing.  This time round I take the case up with my dance teacher, my ballet teacher to be specific.  Miss Nell said, "Yes, you are bow-ledgged.  Don't worry, we can work on it and you will still look good IF YOU WORK HARD."

More than a year ago when I was planning my first solo concert I had the vision of me being in my finest physical form, singing and dancing - holding on own in doing both that I love.  When the script writing came for that concert it was decided that there would be no dancing, the decision suited the concept well.  We sold out on both nights of the concert, even though I didn't get to dance, haha.

Now just a year after that concert I am planning my next one and this time - having done the highly melancholic in the first - I can now safely depart from the sedated and bring out the bold, and the dance...hence:

Showgirl concert, March 2017.

I am challenging myself to overcome the stiff upper back, bowlegged, and everything else that have made me look less than good on the dance floor - to open and close the show next year with a performance that I will be proud of.  It's about a year from now, the game is on.   The work will be colossal, the pain unbearable (but good thing I like pain) and the hours plenty.  I am grateful to have my other old friend on board, Nell, who is fearless in the workplace.  Thank you for taking this up with me.  Let's dance.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

1st anniversary of Restless Heart concert & album - Audience & Colleagues' feedback (March 2015)

Last year this date, March 13th, was an ordinary Friday for many but not for me.  Many people went out of their ways for months to make sure that on March 12th, Thursday, 2015 - Restless Heart CDs arrive at Dpac's theatre door, ready to be despatched and sold to our audience on the same evening, at Restless Heart concert - my first solo concert.  

The village came together for music and love, and the village has stuck together.  This year March 12th & 13th, I slept in on both days and relished in the memories of "Restless Madness" back then and laze in my comfy bed for now, gearing up for another exhilarating chapter ahead called the "second album and second concert".

I've compiled here all the audiences and colleagues' comments, responses, encouragements and kind thoughts that were known to me through their Facebook postings, messages and such.  Even though we didn't work on Restless Heart for these praises, they warm the cockles of our hearts and push our spirits to new heights and set me ready for the next milestone.  Thank you people.


The Star reportage by Seto Kit Yan
Review by Food For Soul, Rachel Khiew

Sandee Chew, March 15th:
Some of the people it takes to do a solo concert & solo album.
O #RestlessHeart Janet Lee, I feel so priviledged to be able to experience even a smidgen of your growing artistry, wisdom & spirit. Who knew personal & sincere can also look & sound so sophisticatedly glamourous

Love the compilation of songs, all the original stuff & how you made old favs your own.
You continue to inspire me in so many ways. Not least of all how you truly and fully live by your deeply felt and honestly shared convictions. *tabik*
Char bo, looking forward to the rest of your journey.
copy of the #RestlessHeart CD available through @souldoctorlee, or pop-by @tommyleebaker.
I've also officially become a fan of Tay Cher Siang (@nishysuperstar now ada competition in my heart) & WVC Band aka WVC+1. They got a concert at Pentas 1, #klpac on June 24-25, 2015!

Seriously humans, go check them out. Like seriously.

Ai Na Wee, March 14th:
我看到用了很多的成就的演唱会, 众很全体的工作人他和她是相她用了她的歌声回大家她的我喜小妮子在台上的表演即便她就是站着不动只张开双臂把歌唱好都那么吸引你的目光去注视她和她的演唱就是她的舞台魅力些年我看着她迅速地在舞台上成长, 那成长的速度是值得注和兴什么,我想因她是用心在唱歌
I sing not because I'm happy,
I'm happy because I sing
抱歉我这组照片拍得很多也拍得好我花间在心听她在和自己唱歌祝福你 #janetlee

I didn't manage to take lots of photos as I am busy watching and listening during the concert. I know her through her voice at most live performance when I attended one of my favourite jazz band WVC trio + one. I love to see her on stage. I often see team work and she somehow fill up the stage with her singing, her conversation with the audience and in this concert, her stories.
I enjoyed the concert very much as I can feel so much love in that theatre hall on the stage, among the audience. The musicians love her, the audiences love her, J and her love each other and she reciprocated by doing a fantastic job on stage for us and for her soulmate J. 
Glad to finally see her dream of releasing this solo album come true. GO GO GO my Janet and more to come...
I always love her slogan
"I sing not because I'm happy. I'm happy because I sing."
That's Janet Lee with her Restless Heart album
‪#‎janetlee‬ ‪#‎restlessheart‬

Kylie Sze Wei, March 14th:
Janet Lee 1st Album "Restless Heart" finally finally finally launch.... Finally I can hear her voice now in car not only at the function! Congraz to Janet Lee ... Guys pls support this album... Is not only about the song in this album... Is a "heart"...

Joanne Aw, March 14th:
Thank you @souldoctorlee for the stories told through your music

So beautiful, so passionate, so inspiring!

Nicole Ann Thomas, March 14th:
Yesterday I witnessed a dream come true. It was a dream come true for me too, lived and experienced by someone else. And this girl deserves every single dream of hers to come to life. Awesome night, awesome music, awesome person. Your Rider in the Wind will always be watching over you Janet Lee. And he is here, now, with you. I remember the early days when you were starting off in theatre and singing, when you used to come by bike, and I used to tell myself, these two are crazy. Thank you for being human. Thank you for being true. Stay crazy. And here's to more music and singing! Love and hugs always.

Alfred Loh, March 14th:
Pick and identify the TRUE statement:
A. Janet Lee is a hustler
B. Janet Lee is a beautiful spirit
C. Janet Lee is a magnificent human being
D. All of the above

PC Foo, March 14th:
Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." Very proud of you, my wonderfoo neighbour, Janet Lee
smile emoticon
Janet's album: [Restless Heart] is on sale now, go and grab it

Yudi Yap, March 14th:

Sherlyn Koh, March 14th:
Proud of you my sister Janet Lee for your first up close and personal concert " Restless Heart". You are an inspirations, hard working and talented artist. We'll always here to support you. Congratulation to your new album, your dream finally come true!

KJ Wong, March 14th:
A restless heart,
beating with a passion unlike any other,
finds a place to be,
finds a voice to sing,
finds a reason to speak,
finds a purpose to live.
A dream,
fueled by a restless heart,
finds itself irrefutable.
Feeding on the pulses of passion and desire,
not the praises of hands and tongues,
it will not die till it finds rest,
seated among the realm of the living.
A joy,
to see a dream,
to see a restless heart
beat without hesitation,
without reservation.
To have lived beside it,
to have witnessed it live.
A life.
A whisper in the wind.
Fleeting, beautiful.
What is a life without a dream? If there was never a thing to strive for, never a passion to live for, never a community to love, never a joy to celebrate, never a sorrow to mourn, never a glory to witness, never a shame to bear; what would it all have been for?
To be a bearer of dreams, that is a beautiful privilege.
I, alongside my comrades whom I love, had the honor and privilege to bear the dream of one Janet Lee.
No bird flies without the wind beneath its wings. Though the wind may sometimes remain unseen, sometimes even unheard, it blows nonetheless, carrying forward those who would choose to ride upon it. All that is left is the image of majesty, soaring through the clouds.
It has been my utmost honor, one which I will forever remain thankful for, to have been called to carry a dream. It has been my joy to have been part of the responsibility for the image of majesty. It has been my pleasure to witness the heartbeats that have culminated in the Restless Heart. It has been my fulfillment to have served, to have been called to partake in the dream.
Cheers to you Janet.
And now, rest.

Horng Yih, March 14th:
Restless Heart,
Rest less heart,
Less rest heart,
Less now,
Rest now,

The cliche is to say "A Star Was Born", well this star was born a while ago.
Last night A Star Shone.”

Claire Rozells, March 14th:

To a lady who shines.
I admire her spunk, her genuine love for love, her booming laughter, her generosity & that huge beautiful heart of hers.
A real go getter!! Whenever i get lazy or stuck in anything i do, i think of @souldoctorlee and how she presses on in life, ALWAYS up-ping her game, always being better than her yesterdays. You inspire me to be better. Thank you.
You are truly an amazing creature and i am sooooo proud of you; first, as a woman; second, as a vocalist... The success of your concert says it all ‪#‎restlessheart‬
Your before made you today, and your today is gonna bring you to a beautiful tomorrow!! Congratulations my dear.
Don't stop inspiring.
Don't stop believing.
Don't ever stop laughing!!
Much love hun!!
   with Janet Lee.

Julian Chan, March 14th:

Dear Janet Lee

You are living proof that we all need to dream, and naivety in such dreams is something virtuous and valuable to have.

You are living proof that there's no dream that's too big that it cannot be achieved. All that is needed is persistence, preserverence, sincerity, diligence, and an unimaginable amount of passion.

You are living proof that having a restless heart is what is necessary to live in this world, or else there is no point to it.
We have seen how hard you have worked, day in day out, to get to this point. Thank you for having us be part of this dream of yours. It is my privilege and honor.



The concert was a blast, and I had a great time with my musical brothers, whom I love dearly, and always a privilege to play and learn with and from them. To my brothers in WVC Trio+1, thank you!

A shoutout to the rest of our ensemble:

Fung Chern Hwei and the Gugu-tet, Eben Ting, Kok Leong, and Eugene.

Backup voices - Yon Lynn Tan and Ng Shareen

Awesome guitarist Faz Aznam for adding your voice to our group.

A shoutout to the RESTLESS HEART production team: Nell Ng (director/producer/slave driver), Seah Song-fan, Wong Horngyih, Tan Choo Harn, Alex Ls Tan, Jaynell Ling and everyone else involved whom I haven't mentioned!

.......And a super special thanks to all of you who made it to the concert in support of our Queen! THANK YOU!

Brenda James, March 14th:
Congratulations Janet Lee for bringing Restless Heart to fruition! The telling of a journey of love, its glorious highs, painful lows, and the delightful, formative middle ground where real life truly happens. May your musical adventures continue to bloom and grow.

Jimmy Ang, March 14th:
Today's darlings.
I'm here today for Janet. Watching her realize her dream and being part of it is such a blessing. I'm never more proud of someone. The feast for the eyes and ears today not only inspired me but also motivated me. We all want to be someone who we dream to be but not everyone can achieve it. Congrats Janet. I want you to know that I love you and your spirit.

Angie Ng, March 14th:
Stellar solo concert & launch of her debut album ‪#‎restlessheart‬ by ‪#‎janetlee‬ ! Congratulations @souldoctorlee & thank you for your music, your stories, your beautiful soul & for always keeping it real! P/S: cried again listening to your album in the car lah. ‪#‎therapeutic‬ Janet Lee

Zakri, March 14th:
A fearless and restless heart inspired me so much tonight with her courage in pursuing her dreams. Congrats dear heart — with Janet Lee.

Keira Chin, March 13th:
I met Ms @souldoctorlee 3 years ago at one of Sensei Cher Siang's performance. She is always regarded as the most hardworking woman on earth. Finally the long awaited solo concert/album release! Congratulations! Thank you for the gorgeous music that touches my heart. I'm sure it's same for everyone who was there. ‪#‎restlessheart‬ ‪#‎janetlee‬

Suhailie Michelin, March 13th:
Dearest @souldoctorlee , thank you for sharing this night with me. It was indeed a reminder to always celebrate life and be thankful for many wonderful things. I'm so grateful to be part of your journey.. 'Dance not because you want to but because you have to...' Love you ‪#‎janetlee‬ ‪#‎restlessheart‬ — with Seah Song-fan and 5 others.

Adrian Chee, March 13th:
My good friend and (trusted supplier) Janet Lee had her first solo concert tonite and boy did she blew the audience away. Thank you for an amazing nite, my favorite has always been your rendition of Shanghai Jazz - all my hair stood up when you hit those notes! Keep on having that Restless Heart and continue making great music! Congrats my dear, and all the best with the new album.

Jason Khoo, March 13th:
Restless Heart】一张诚意满满的作品。看见的是一位歌者的热血、努力与坚持;听见的是首首美妙动听的爵士乐,仿佛享受着一杯浓郁咖啡停留在嘴里的香醇~ Janet Lee 李抒芬,加油!

Lynn Tan, March 13th:
Butterflies in a jar. As though the glass is lined with acid.
(I'm lost for words!)
Restless Heart is crafted with raw sincerity.
Personally, I recalled a very familiar desire...
feels like I can touch the sky again.
Our only, most recent duo shot

Winnie Ho, March 13th:
She is our "youngest" in ‪#‎ShanghaiSisters‬. She is my crony. She is someone that inspired and encourage me so much about dreams. She sing, she laughs, she writes, she pursues. She is Janet Lee.
Congrats babe on your debut solo concert : Restless Heart! I was touched by the great effort everyone puts in ! So proud of u!
, still showing at Damansara Performing Art Center (Dpac). One more show on 13/3/2015, 8.30pm. Acknowledge their effort by support the gig or get a copy of Janet's Debut album! — with May Meow and Janet Lee.

Isabell Jia Jia, March 13th:
It's a whole load of enjoyment for audience when seasoned musicians perform on stage
smile emoticon
without forgetting the experienced show producer , coordinator , sound n light engineer n etc .
Dear Janet Lee, so proud of u ~!! Great show indeed !
虽然走的是不同风格,但我强烈推荐常听和常做中文音乐的朋友们去看这场演出!其实我们在这样多元种族和文化的熏陶之下,酝酿出来的音乐真的有很多值得互相交流和学习的地方。 不要忙着各做各的才好~

Kong Eu, March 13th:
Such an elegant & beautiful ‪#‎RestlessHeart‬ last night! Janet Lee's solo concert launching her debut album at ‪#‎DPAC‬. FULL live band, stunning staging & powerful vocals of the gorgeous Janet Lee ...See if you can get standing room tickets for tonight's show!

Ker Heng, March 13th:
Wonderful vocals by Janet Lee and the band + wvc trio who played tonight! Faz Aznam great work on the guitar! Lights and sound were a very high standard too! ‪#‎restlessheart‬ ‪#‎janetleemusic‬

Prestinne Tan, March 12th:
Was at a solo concert of restless heart, featuring Janet Lee. A malaysian songstress. It's her 1st album after working hard for 10 years. Finally she owns the stage, has her own songs in the comfort of people that love her in the hall. I don't know her, but from the brief encounter I could feel her. It was really touch-heart, with personal stories weaved in. Did not expect to be touched that way but I choked up a few times especially when she mentioned Justin, her soul mate that has passed on 5 years ago. Did not expect such a soulful, personal musical encounter tonite really. And I could feel that she is a beautiful being. I could not detect any sense of pretense. Not a bit. Only sincerity and honesty. Oh and this girl can sing! Lol! My favourite track - Into The Sky. Congratulations ‪#‎JanetLee‬. ‪#‎RestlessHeart‬Kris Wong dear thank you for a beautiful evening as always. ♡♡♡

Zen Lin Tan, March 20th:

Hi Janet,

Thank you for a wonderful Friday last week. F1 was a good seat. Thank you for accommodating to my ticket change. It's been a week but the experience was awe-inspiring and alot of the tunes are still ringing in my head. Especially "Mo Li Hua", it's spine-tingling. Perfect amalgamation of chinese folk and modern fusion.

Being a restless heart myself, I look up to you. I cried, I laughed, I grooved to the beats, I clapped, througout your concert even I was solo that evening.    Guess that's the magic of the arts. And your honesty brought me into deep thoughts of my current situation. A timely reminder for myself to keep me sane. Every moments is a crossroads. Every turn you make and every path you make will be your journey of discovery forever. Make life a ride.

Glad to see you have the blessings, love and care from friends.

Hope to see more of your performances in the future or maybe a good cup of tea.

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