Finding Her Voice

Tabitha Nauser went from belting out classics on the Singapore Idol stage to writing her own music for a global audience. DAVELLE LEE chats with her about her new single.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Tabitha Nauser went from belting out classics on the Singapore Idol stage to writing her own music for a global audience. DAVELLE LEE chats with her about her new single. 

“I’m the best addiction that you’ll ever have,” croons singer Tabitha Nauser in her first single, Bulletproof, released in February. And she’s right. The song, about unconditional love, is addictive. But equally intriguing is how it defies being straightforwardly classified as a pop, dance, or rhythm and blues track. 

Tabitha, who is of Swiss and Indian descent, says: “I was experimenting with different things and figuring out what sounded good. I didn’t want to plug it into a specific genre.”

Growing up with Music 

The 25-year-old found her musical voice at a young age. “When I was little, I found it difficult to put how I felt into words. So I learnt to express myself through music.” 

Tabitha was fed a steady stream of soul, jazz and pop ballads from the likes of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson, and the soundtrack of her childhood shaped her musical style. Her other major influences include R&B artistes like Beyonce and the late Aaliyah, as well as her own mother. “I grew up listening to my mum sing. She has an amazing voice.” 

Tabitha always knew performing was her calling. In 2009, at just 17, she took part in the televised singing competition, Singapore Idol. Although she didn’t win, her fresh face and velvety vocals made her a hit with the audience. 

Since then, she has performed on the international stage – at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and 2015 South-east Asian Games, hosted two football-related television series for Mio TV, and until recently, was a radio DJ with 987 FM. 

But Tabitha’s most memorable performance was in August last year, when she was invited to sing at the White House in Washington, at the state dinner that former US President Barack Obama hosted for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. “We didn’t get to meet President Obama, but we got to be in the same room as him,” she says. 

From Studio to Stage

Tabitha has also taken her voice to the stage, in musical theatre. Her most recent role was in the Singapore production of Rent, the well-loved Broadway musical. Her portrayal of Mimi Marquez, an exotic dancer who is HIV-positive, received rave reviews. 

But musical theatre initially presented challenges for Tabitha, who, as a recording artiste, was used to focusing on different skills. “When you’re recording in a booth, the technical bits are very important. You want to get everything perfect. But in musical theatre, it isn’t just about singing. People want to feel that your performance is real.” 

Coming into Her Own

Music is now Tabitha’s full-time focus. She has a few more singles in the pipeline, and hopes to produce her album within the year. But she hesitates to put a date to its release, as creating music can be a long and gruelling process. Bulletproof took about a month to put together. “You’re always changing (the song) up, listening to it over and over to make it better. It takes a while before you can finally say, okay, let’s stick to this.” 

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