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Trailblazers Nathan Hartono: 5 Things To Know About The Singer-Songwriter

Nathan Hartono: 5 Things To Know About The Singer-Songwriter

Photo: Jayden Tan
Photo: Jayden Tan
By Generation T
August 19, 2021
The 30-year-old artist has released three albums, starred in a feature film and been mentored by Mandopop superstar Jay Chou

In 2016, Singaporean musician Nathan Hartono was catapulted to the global stage when he made it to the finals of Chinese TV singing competition Sing! China. The reality contest, which featured famous Mandopop stars as judges, such as Jay Chou and Harlem Yu, broke television and online viewing records that year. It topped ratings for seven weeks in a row and recorded billions of views online. 

Hartono eventually emerged as the first runner-up of the competition, which launched his Mandopop career. In 2019, he made his major record label debut with Warner Music China.

We break down five things to know about the artist and his more-than-decade-long career in music.

See also: Everything You Need To Know About Musician Jasmine Sokko

His music journey began when he was 14

Hartono has been performing for more than half his life. When he was 14 years old, his parents took notice of his singing talent during a karaoke session. They encouraged him to enter a teen magazine talent contest, where he would later win the top prize. 

A year later, he became the youngest performer to headline a show at the Esplanade’s Late Nite series in Singapore. He also studied music production and engineering at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston. Today, Hartono has released three albums and performed on hundreds of stages across Asia. 

He has also tried his hand at acting, debuting in a musical titled Spring Awakening, about teenage sexuality, in 2012. 

A first-generation Singaporean

Born to Chinese-Indonesian parents, Hartono’s mother, Jocelyn Tjioe, is senior vice president of TungLok Group, which was founded by his uncle Andrew and boasts a portfolio of over 20 restaurants in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, China and Vietnam. Hartono’s father, Thomas Hartono, is the managing director of PT Anandini Vimala, which is behind lifestyle projects such as resorts and villas.

He was mentored by Jay Chou

Photo: Sing! China
Photo: Sing! China

When he appeared in Sing! China he was taken under the wing of Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou, after the latter heard him sing an R&B rendition of You Mei You (Have You Ever?) by Taiwanese singer Wei Li-an. 

In an interview with The Straits Times, Hartono described what he took away from being mentored by Chou: “He likes to innovate, experiment and push his own boundaries. He's always challenging the perception of how Chinese music sounds and I think that's what I learned the most from him.”

He writes his own music

Photo: Jayden Tan
Photo: Jayden Tan

For his latest single, The Difference, Hartono wrote the lyrics based on his own life experiences. He describes the song as illustrating “both the light and dark side of that haze you find yourself in” when in love.

The dreamy, piano-driven track was produced with Singaporean producer and fellow Gen.T honouree Myrne, and will be part of Hartono’s upcoming four-track EP, titled Edge of Days, that will be released on September 3.

Other quick facts about the artist

Star sign Leo.
A guilty pleasure Doritos.
Biggest fashion regret Wearing “the baggiest of baggy jeans” when he was about 12 or 13 years old.
Favourite pastime Going down YouTube rabbit holes.


See more honourees from the Entertainment category of the Gen.T List

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Trailblazers nathan hartono entertainment music singapore

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