updated 19 Aug 2013, 03:24
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Fri, Aug 16, 2013
The Straits Times
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Cheryl Miles' bag of sound
by Sherwin Loh

After 22 years as a performer, Cheryl Miles has found her true calling - behind the microphone.

A back-up dancer turned singer, host, presenter and even animation artist, Miles has just signed on full-time with Hot FM91.3, after five years as a part-time DJ there.

It is about time, said the multi-hyphenate artist, who turned 38 earlier this month and eschewed a big birthday bash in favour of a small celebration with close friends.

All signs telling her to get a full-time gig culminated in June, when Hot FM91.3 was named the nation's top hit music station with listeners aged 15 and older, according to a survey by research company AC Nielsen.

"After trying so many different things, I finally wanted to commit," said Miles.

She started working full-time at 16, when her father was declared a bankrupt. She had just completed her O levels at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School.

Her first pay cheque went towards dance lessons that her father had previously refused to pay for.

Shuttling between dance classes and working as a fitness instructor, she was hired as a back-up dancer by the then-Television Corporation of Singapore and she enjoyed the limelight as a dancer for local performances by big-name stars such as Aaron Kwok and Lisa Loeb.

In 1996, she decided to go back to school and completed the Digital Media Design course at Nanyang Polytechnic. The self-proclaimed technophobe became an animator when the industry was still in its nascent stages.

"I loved to draw and my heart was set on animation. I wanted to do something artistic," she explained.

Reality set in when she started applying for jobs and found that "the pay was really bad".

When a close friend asked if she wanted to dance and sing back-up for singer Wendi Koh, whom she idolised, Miles bid the animation industry goodbye and returned to the stage.

The pair and their friend Cristal Simon formed pop group Crush in 1999. Long-time TV and radio fans might recognise them as Cherry Chocolate Candy. The trio were the winners of Talentime 2001.

But why the name change?

"We were doing well as Crush and if we didn't do well at Talentime, it would not taint Crush's reputation," she recalled with a laugh.

Renaming themselves as CCCrush (all their names begin with C) in 2003, they performed for another five years. It was around the same time that Miles was also battling personal demons as her father, who left the family in 2001, had finally returned.

She was on a diet of slimming pills, to better fit the entertainment industry's shape-conscious demands.

"I am not a skinny girl. Even when I was skinny, people called me fat."

Another friend persuaded her to try the behind-the-scenes action of being a DJ and she joined Power 98 in 2008 for four months before moving to the then-Radio 91.3.

"I think the reason I was hired was because I was a 'celebrity'," she said, using her hands to signal air quotes and giving a short laugh.

These days, she is on The Shan & Cheryl Show from 6am to 10am every day, having moved on Monday from the 4pm to 7.30pm slot.

While she is content to be a voice, she misses dancing. She rarely has time for it these days, she said.

"I don't need to perform, but I just miss dancing."

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