LIKE many singer-songwriters, 20-year-old medical student Lynell Roderica Tong shied away from the idea of performing her original songs.

That was until the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLpac) introduced the Song category to their annual Short+Sweet Festival to discover talented songwriters out there – an extension of what KLPac has been doing for years with other genres like musicals and dance.

“While Short+Sweet is a platform to develop talent – especially those who don’t get the chance to perform; it is also a great platform for producers and directors to spot talents. Oddly enough, I only realised this after six years (of organising Short+Sweet),” said KLPac executive producer and co-founder Dato’ Faridah Merican in amusement.

Faridah had announced the new category on Short+Sweet’s opening night a couple of weeks ago.

It has certainly turned out to be a smart move. If not for Short+Sweet, songwriters like Tong would not have broken out of her shell, let alone place first and win the Audience Choice Award. But of course, she admits to doubting herself prior to the competition.

“I was quite surprised when my sister Lydia (who also competed) signed me up for this. I didn’t think my song was good enough for the competition. To me, Beautiful Lie (Tong’s original song) felt too simple – the meaning was so shallow and I used only five chords. There were times when I considered pulling out because I just didn’t believe in myself,” the Perdana University student revealed.


As for second runner-up Sophia Othman-Andersen, 15, the thought of debuting her songs instantly intrigued her.

“I heard about the category at the Short+Sweet workshop and I thought it’d be good to try since I had never done it before,” said Othman-Andersen, who performed Shooting Star with her brother Stefan. She also sang a duet of Satellite with fellow contestant Vale Vincent Wong.

Unlike Tong and Othman-Andersen, Wong performs professionally and so sharing his work is nothing out of the ordinary for him. Nevertheless, he agrees that Short+Sweet is an excellent platform to nurture hidden talents.

“The songs I heard here are just truly amazing and it’s great that these performers now have a place to show what they have to offer,” he said. “Short+Sweet exposes you to an audience that genuinely cares about the performance, and they give real feedback. Performing at gigs, on the other hand, people who are there normally aren’t as interested in listening to you.

“Not many people would care if you post your stuff on YouTube either, and people there can be very harsh – their criticisms are rarely ever constructive.”

Short+Sweet Festival KL 2013 is happening in KLpac from now until October 27. Log on to to learn more about the event.

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