Among the 12 powerhouse belters competing in a Chinese singing contest, Malaysian singer Shila Amzah truly stands out.
The Malay 23-year-old hijab-wearing star is the only non-Chinese on I Am A Singer 2.
But her effortless and soulful renditions of songs like Wang Lee Hom's Forever Love have led to her being dubbed the dark horse in the title race.
I Am A Singer 2 pits professional singers against each other.
Veteran Inner Mongolian crooner Han Lei and Hong Kong pop sensation G.E.M feature as frontrunners.
The final this Friday will be shown live at 8pm from the Chinese city of Hunan over on now Mango (StarHub Ch 836). Prior to that, there will be a 30-minute documentary on Shila's life and showbiz career, I Am A Singer: Asia Sweetheart Shila, at 7.30pm.
Beijing-based Shila, who has over 1.2 million followers on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo, counts Wang Lee Hom and Adele as her pop idols.
Ahead of her big night, she tells M in an e-mail interview why her experience on I Am A Singer 2 is turning out to be an unforgettable one.
In 2012, you made headlines for winning Chinese regional singing competition Asian Wave. How different is I Am A Singer 2?
It's totally different from Asian Wave because that was judged by superstars. The results of I Am A Singer 2 are entirely based on votes from audience members.
The concept of these two shows are different too, and pose different sets of challenges.
I Am A Singer 2 has been a great platform for me to showcase my talent weekly to the Chinese market. I've been getting lots of exposure from the show and learning from other senior singers (and fellow contestants) such as Han Lei, Phil Chang and Gary Chaw.
Is language the most difficult part for you when it comes to learning Mandopop songs for I Am A Singer 2?
Yes, it is. I used to need more than a week to learn a new Chinese song, but in this competition, time is limited. I have only four days a week to fully memorise the song and understand the meaning of its lyrics.
Do you feel additional pressure that you are representing Malaysia on the show? Fans have been calling you the Pride of Malaysia.
I do feel proud of myself for being crowned the Pride of Malaysia. I don't give myself pressure to win.
Honestly, the most important thing for me is getting the experience and cherishing every single moment on the competition. I believe all of us singers in this competition have the same goal.
Being able to work with the talented production team, musicians and competitors - that's already enough for me. I feel very honoured to be here and I'm grateful to make it to the final.
Malaysian singer in Chinese reality singing contest says she is "honoured" to be there.
This article was published on April 2 in The New Paper.
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