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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
The New Paper
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Jill of all trades: Blogger, singer and now lawyer
by Tong Su Yee

BE A Jill of all trades, but master of one.

That's the motto of Sugene Gan, the local blogger-singer known as Genie.

She started her singing career in 2005, when she began composing a mix of English and Mandarin songs related to her daily blog entries. She has released four albums of self-written tracks.

But now, Genie, who said she is in her 20s, is moving from music to law.

Her career path has taken a lot of twists and turns. In 2005, she set up a talent studio which specialises in personalised training in music, dance and speech.

It was initially called Genesis 2 Revelation and under a sole proprietorship.

But Genie wanted to make it a private limited company. So it was closed and reopened as Genie Sound Advice.

Genie, who earlier took a degree in accountancy from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), graduated with a degree in law from the National University of Singapore (NUS) last week.

Asked why she chose to do two degrees, she said she felt knowledge in either accountancy or law could help in understanding the other discipline.

She jokingly added: "I feel that with both my degrees now, I can defy the statement that 'lawyers can't count'."

After graduating from NTU in 2003, she worked at international auditing firm Ernst & Young for 11 months before she left to pursue music full time.

She said: "The opportunity came in the form of a distribution contract offer from Universal Music, and I decided to take it."

She holds the copyright to her music, but Universal distributed the albums locally.

In 2008, she decided to become a full-time student again, at the NUS law faculty.

Now that she has graduated, Genie intends to concentrate on being a lawyer in the corporate law sector.

Her singing career will be put on hold as she begins work tomorrow at a law firm here.

Asked why she's choosing to re-enter the workforce when music has been a long-time passion of hers, Genie said law was her dream and ambition.

She said: "I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was eight; this is just going full circle. I've had many detours, now I'm going to do what I set out to do."

As both lawyer and musician, Genie is strongly against piracy.

She said: "Being a singer-songwriter myself, I know what it's like to experience piracy.

"In the music industry, there are so many parties involved, and downloading music (illegally) affects the lives of everyone involved."

In 2006, she launched a virtual album of six songs called Genie's MAgIC, which stands for Movement Against Illegal Content-sharing. It was available for download from legal websites here as well as in China, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Each song cost $1.99 per download.

Most recent album

Her most recent album Dreams And Awakenings, which she recorded to raise funds for HCA Hospice Care, was released this year in the form of a thumb drive which allowed legal sharing of the mp3 files in it.

It contains 11 songs, one music video and four wallpapers and is on sale at all Gramophone music outlets for $25 each.

She said: "It was a multi-pronged approach. I'm also an advocate for environment-friendliness, so that saved materials too."

In 2009, Genie Sound Advice refocused to concentrate on helping people with public speaking and vocal training.

Genie also has neurolinguistics coaching certification and a specialist diploma from the Academy of Certified Counsellors.

She said she was once extremely shy and began to speak out only because her former career as a singer required her to.

She said: "Being a singer, you have to communicate and interact with a lot of (people) whom you might not know personally."

Now that she is beginning her new career as a lawyer, will she continue her services at Genie Sound Advice?

"I definitely want to help people find their direction in life through my counselling and coaching," she said.

"I believe in using our talents to help people. If we've been given so much, we should try to pass this on and help others."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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