Tears prompt impromptu duet at Jessie J concert
Six thousand fans turned up to watch Jessie J live at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Thursday evening, but one face stood out amid the crowd - one whom the British pop star chose to shine the spotlight on.
And for three minutes, all eyes were on him.
The lucky guy turned out to be Singapore Idol 3 finalist Duane Ho, who was in sixth place in the 2009 Channel 5 reality TV singing competition and was remembered as the 16-year-old with the big voice.
After performing her hits, Nobody's Perfect, Who You Are and Flashlight, Jessie J, 28, took her seat centre stage and started telling the audience more about herself.
She was shocked at the turnout - "Wow, I really wasn't expecting this many people," she said - because tickets for the concert had not been on sale, but had been obtainable upon purchase of a Singtel mobile plan with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or by signing up with music service Singtel Music.
Shortly after, she spotted and singled out Ho in the front row, whom she noticed was in tears for the first half of her one-hour set.
"You were crying. Are you okay now? You've stopped crying," she asked him.
To which he replied: "(Your song) Your Loss I'm Found saved my life."
CONNECTION: (Above) Jessie J and Duane Ho singing back and forth. The British singer playing to the crowd, getting them on their feet and singing along with her. PHOTOS: NATASHA MEAH, SINGTEL AND SAMSUNG
Jessie J said: "I remember the day I wrote that. I was in the studio crying. Boyfriends... it's hard. And when you don't think you're going to get your heart broken, you always do."
She asked Ho for his name, age and what he was doing. The 23-year-old, who has just completed national service and will head to university in August, said: "I want to be a singer."
Jessie J then passed him a microphone and instead of singing one of her tracks or doing a duet, the pair engaged in a back-and-forth exchange, making up lyrics as they went along.
Ho kicked off with: "Jessie, you are everything to me. I love you. That was kind of flat, but who cares, you are making my dreams come true."
She continued: "Duane, you can really sing, oh yeah. There are so many times I pass the mic, and the person can't sing but you can, baby.
"Duane, I wish you all the luck for your Bachelor of Arts degree. You better sing, you better fly, you better make your dreams come true."
Jessie J, who did not shy away from becoming emotional during her talking breaks, also invited a 13-year-old girl from Malaysia on stage to perform Masterpiece with her.
And she sang Happy Birthday to a fan she saw in the crowd whom she had met just hours before, at a pre-gig meet-and-greet.
Ho, who has attended Jessie J's previous shows in Singapore, told The New Paper: "I wanted to show a sign that (read) 'Your Loss I'm Found saved my life' (to get noticed), but this morning when I woke up, I decided I just wanted to have fun without having to lug a signboard. So it was just God's will that it happened."
He explained how that particular track got him through heartbreak last year, when he was "not in my best state" and "in a dark place".
Ho said: "I love (Jessie) so much. She doesn't need fancy outfits, sets or lights, she has her vocals. I've watched so many videos of her live concerts and I've seen that she likes to do improv with the audience, so that's why I knew what to do when I was handed the mic.
"I was screaming from the start and crying. Everything is still a blur to me."
Jessie, you are everything to me. I love you. That was kind of flat but who cares, you are making my dreams come true.
- Duane Ho
'I love the support here, I feel understood'
During her concert, Jessie J said she "wasn't going to do any more shows this year".
But when Singtel and Samsung invited her to come to Singapore, she just "couldn't say no".
The singer, who has been a coach on reality TV singing shows The Voice UK and The Voice Australia, has performed here thrice, in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
She told The New Paper in an interview before the gig: "I love the fans, I love the country and I love the energy here.
"I just love how much I am supported here, and I feel understood. I love the heat, the food and culture."
And her fans love her back just as much.
"When I landed at 3am (on Thursday), there were two guys at the airport, and I was, like, 'Yo, it's the middle of the night, go to bed', and they were, like, 'Yeah, we're really tired'.
"So we took some pictures, I gave them a hug and told them to get some rest," said Jessie J, who ordered local food - a plate of chicken rice - from room service once she reached her hotel room.
Flashlight, the theme song from last year's hit musical comedy sequel Pitch Perfect 2, was a big hit. Do you think it boosted your fame in the US?
It definitely has been one of those songs that has pushed my career 100 per cent.
You never really know what a song is going to do, but the Smule app definitely helped as it gave the fans personal interaction.
And obviously, the film did a massive thing for the song.
Your last album, Sweet Talker, came out in 2014. Any plans for your next release?
I don't know yet. I've done three albums back to back and I've definitely learnt a lot about myself as an artist and what I don't want to do again and what I do.
My last album was quite rushed. Even though it was thankfully very successful, the process of it wasn't my favourite.
I am definitely in a better place in my mind, spirit and energy than I was in my last record.
I am excited to see what I do next.
You are now signed to the Good Charlotte twins Joel and Benji Madden's management company MDDN. How close are you to the US rockers?
They're like two of my best friends. I speak to them every day.
They are artists, so the biggest difference between them and anyone else I've worked with is that they really, truly understand the lifestyle and the importance of management, starting from home all the way to the stage.
The person I am off-camera is as important as the person I am on-camera. I adore working with them, they've changed my life and I am so much happier.
We've been working together for over a year now, and I've just publicly announced it, and they've completely turned my mind around to what I can achieve.
It is very important to be surrounded by people who really reflect who you are.