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Musical prodigy Sungha Jung loves his chilli crab

SINGAPORE — Just eight years ago, an unassuming South Korean boy took the world by storm with homemade YouTube videos of him playing impressive covers of popular hits on his guitar. The child prodigy’s musical talent caught the eye of several well-respected music brands, along with the hearts of viewers from around the world. Today, Sungha Jung has more than 3.2 million followers on his YouTube channel, with his most-watched video topping 45 million views. He is also proficient as a ukulele player — hence his inclusion in this year’s Sentosa Ukulele Festival — and has worked closely with several international musicians. At only 18 years of age, the maestro also has six brand endorsements under his belt.

Musical prodigy Sungha Jung loves his chilli crab

South Korean musical prodigy Sungha Jung will be in town for the Sentosa Ukulele Festival.

SINGAPORE — Just eight years ago, an unassuming South Korean boy took the world by storm with homemade YouTube videos of him playing impressive covers of popular hits on his guitar. The child prodigy’s musical talent caught the eye of several well-respected music brands, along with the hearts of viewers from around the world. Today, Sungha Jung has more than 3.2 million followers on his YouTube channel, with his most-watched video topping 45 million views. He is also proficient as a ukulele player — hence his inclusion in this year’s Sentosa Ukulele Festival — and has worked closely with several international musicians. At only 18 years of age, the maestro also has six brand endorsements under his belt.

Q: You’re no stranger to our country, so what are your favourite local dishes?

A: Chilli crab and satay!

Q: You did an excellent rendition of Kit Chan’s Home. What can we expect from you at this year’s festival?

A: You will see a new instrument that is familiar, but do not see every day; and there will be awesome collaborations. I’ve also prepared a special present for my Singaporean fans.

Q: Did you always know you had a passion and gift for music?

A: I didn’t, but I think my parents did, so they have been giving me full support to become a professional guitar player. I knew I always liked it and put a lot of effort in my guitar playing.

Q: What is your secret formula to success?

A: Knowing and pursuing your dream at an early age is the key, I think. I began playing at age 10. Equally important is the amount of time and effort you put in to fulfil the dream.

Q: You’re constantly busy with school, music projects and touring. Do you have time for a love life?

A: Unfortunately, I do not really have much time for that, but now, I definitely have more time to hang out with my friends in Seoul. I have fewer tours too this year as I went back to school. So, let’s see...

Q: You have also collaborated with musicians from all over the world. Whom did you most enjoy working with?

A: It is very hard to choose just one. Jason Mraz was very kind and fun. I was really happy to finally meet him after hearing about him mentioning that he actually used my finger-style arrangement for my cover of his hit song, I’m Yours. Working on a track for Korean singer-songwriter Roy Kim’s album was great too. Last but not least, joining AKMU as a collaboration guest with another good friend of mine, SeungWoo Yoo, was a blast last winter.

Q: You’re now 18 going on 19. What will happen when you enlist into military service?

A: I will not be able to tour during that period. I will probably compose more, I think. This will probably happen in about three years.

Q: How many guitars and ukuleles do you currently own?

A: Many. I think more than 20.

Q: What’s next on your schedule?

A: I will be touring a lot, as usual. I will also come back to Singapore to have my solo concert at the Esplanade at the end of May, to promote my new album, Two Of Me. It is my fifth solo album and will be released on May 1.

Catch Sungha Jung at the Sentosa Ukulele Festival 2015 this Saturday, 4pm, Palawan Beach, Sentosa. Admission is free. More details at sentosa.com.sg/en/music/

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