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Jonathan Leong, 梁偉鑛
Jonathan Leong
Background information
Birth name Jonathan Ken Leong, 梁偉鑛
Also known as Jon Leong
Born (1982-06-02)2 June 1982
Origin Singapore
Genres Rock, Pop, Alternative rock, Jazz, Swing
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 2003–present
Labels Hype Records

Jon Leong, 梁偉鑛, (pronounced Liang Wei Kuang in mandarin) (Born Jonathan Ken Leong, 2 June 1982) is a Singaporean performing artist, singer-songrwriter, music producer and actor. His first steps into the world of entertainment started when he played in bands at pubs and clubs before achieving public prominence after finishing as the runner-up during the second season of Singapore Idol, a franchise of the popular Pop Idol series. He is currently playing the principal role of "The Boy" in the Cirque Du Soleil-esque circus musical, Voyage De La Vie. Leong has also recorded a full-length studio album, which was released on 22 September 2011.

Early life

Leong was born and raised in Singapore, he is the son of Joseph, an owner of a newspaper stand, and Mary an ex airline ticket sales executive. Leong was raised catholic and received his primary school education at Nan Hua Primary School, secondary school education at St. Joseph's Institution where he won his first singing competition in 1997 and junior college education in Serangoon Junior College. Leong finished his academic life graduating in 2007 from The National University of Singapore with a degree in Political Science(Leong was preparing himself for a career in Journalism and writing). Leong was very active in sports during his school days, notably so in the sport of fencing. He had earned himself the school colors from both his secondary school and junior college for his contribution to the respective schools through the sport. Leong had won many national fencing competitions and was part of the Singapore national team, representing the country in the sport from the year 2000–2001. From 2001 to 2003, Leong enlisted in the military, joining the Singapore Armed Forces. During his time in the military, Leong became part of the Airborne trained Commando unit in the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation.

Trained electric organ and classical piano from an early age, Leong developed a deep love with music. Leong often cites his father and his family as very strong musical influences in many interviews, saying that his father's one time stint as a singer for a band and the many musical jam sessions that surrounded the young singer-to be weaned him for his career in entertainment.

His first memorable experience on the stage was when he won a school singing contest at the age of 15 and got the opportunity to give a solo performance at a school event as a result. In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, he mentioned that he took part in the singing contest "to get out of detention, not to win and fate decided the rest." Towards the end of his military term, he formed the rock band, Reverie, taking the role of lead singer with other members of his unit.

Leong fronted rock band, Reverie, in the pub and club scene for four years as a means of income while attending university. The band was reasonably successful and they were often hired to play private events, the most notable being FHM Singapore's Girl next door competition finals and various university parties alongside other bands. The band also recorded an original song for a World Harmony Day event for the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

Coming from a musical family, it was no surprise that Leong's singing style finds roots from a wide range of artists, the rocker cites his early influences to be a lot of old mainstream pop music, classic rock, heavy metal and hard rock. In many interviews, he has mentioned the vocal stylings of Rob Thomas, Elvis Presley, Dave Gahan, David Bowie, Scott Weiland, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bono as strong influences.

In late 2004, Leong was signed on to Upfront Models a very well known, modeling agency in Singapore. His involvement in the fashion industry led him to branch out as a solo singer with performances at various fashion events such as DKNY's store launch at Palais renaissance, an upmarket shopping arcade in Singapore, The Takashimaya Singapore Retailer's show, The New Paper New Face pageant finals and as a guest performer at the Concert in the park held at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 2005.

Singapore Idol

Auditioning for the popular reality series among thousands and eventually reaching the finals held at the Singapore indoor Stadium of the television show with eventual winner, Hady Mirza, is Leong's first foray into mainstream media attention.

In the early part of the competition, Leong sang Matchbox Twenty's "If You're Gone" to cinch his place in the top 12 and was an early media and crowd favourite after that performance. During jazz week, his rendition of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" cemented his position as a hot favourite in the competition. However, the performance that won the hearts of the Singaporean population was his take on Irish indie rock band Snow Patrol's hit song, "Chasing Cars", which placed Leong as the media's favourite for the title. Leong finished the competition as 1st runner up in the finals held in the Singapore Indoor Stadium where he performed to a full crowd of more than 12,000 people.

The nationally televised singing competition put Leong's distinctive baritone voice on the map and made him one of the most recognizable faces and voices in the Singaporean entertainment scene. It did not come as a surprise when Leong was offered a record deal (from chief Singapore Idol judge, Ken Lim) a year later, the chief judge was remembered to have said on air (after the announcement of the final results) that Leong had what it took to "be a regional star, anytime." .

During the competition he garnered a huge fanbase, self named the 'Jonatics'. Leong has mentioned on some occasions that he was initially uncomfortable with the word, "fan" and prefers to refer to his fanbase as "supporters" as he felt that the "fan" sounded "rather snooty". His fanbase has been well aware of Leong's longtime affinity with animals and have adopted a dog and a monkey in his name at a dog society in the case of the former and the Night Safari for the latter.

Post-Idol career

2006–2009: Collaborations with MediaCorp

Following his commercial success on Singapore Idol, Leong has performed at many high-profile events, television shows and many concert venues including Miss Singapore Universe, the President's Star Charity Singapore, a Levi's jeans launch and an FHM event.

In December 2006, Leong hosted a local holiday special series produced by Mediacorp named "Wish Upon A Star" alongside Hady Mirza and Gurmit Singh to fulfill contractual obligations. It was filmed between November and December 2006. He was voted Man of the Year 2006 in The Flame Awards organised by The New Paper. Mediacorp's Channel 5 Fame Awards gave Leong the title of "Best Hunk 2006".

In 2007, Leong was made an ambassador for the Motorola Singapore (RED) Campaign, an initiative spearheaded by Bono of U2 to alleviate the spread of HIV in Africa. In November that year, Leong lent his vocals to a Mandarin track, 情牵二十五, which was included in the track list for an album compilation to commemorate Mediacorp's twenty five-year anniversary of broadcasting locally produced mandarin drama serials on Channel 8.

In September 2008, Leong was invited to cameo in an episode in Calefare, a knock-off of the popular HBO series, Extras, acting as a popular singer named Johnny Chia, a parody of himself. When interviewed if he was aware of the similarities between the two shows, Leong expressed ignorance during filming, but has since "immensely enjoyed" the original British sitcom after the fact. He was featured as a celebrity guest contestant in the premiere episode of the Singaporean version of the popular television gameshow Don't Forget the Lyrics!. Along with other singers, Leong managed to raise $25,000 for charity. He was also an ambassador for the Passion Card Ad campaign for the People's Association.

Theatrical Circus career

In April 2010, it was announced that Leong would star in the original theatrical production, "Voyage De La Vie" along with a cast of international performers. After several rounds of auditions, Leong got the lead role of "The Boy".

The multimillion-dollar theatrical circus spectacular was created by Mark Fisher, produced by The Generating Company, and co-conceived and directed by acclaimed Broadway and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus director Philip Wm. McKinley. "Voyage De La Vie" is currently the resident show at the integrated resort Resorts World Sentosa.

Leong is the only Singaporean performer in "Voyage De La Vie", the Cirque Du Soleil-esque show boasts a blend of circus performances, elaborate sets, costumes and original music. It features an international cast from 16 different countries and has enjoyed success since its opening night in June 2010. It is currently the longest-running production in the history of Singapore.

Solo album

On 22 September 2011, Leong's solo album was released. Leong contributed writing, production and arrangement skills for the album. titled, 神秘英雄 which translates in English to Mystery Man is predominantly recorded in Mandarin but features one English single titled, For You. The single 多一次机会 (One more chance) peaked at number 7 on the Top 20 Countdown chart on the most popular radio station in Singapore, Y.E.S. 93.3FM.

Internet blog and Podcast Show

In August 2011, Leong started a web blog named "Life in Stereo- Jonathan Leong's guide to Life" and an accompanying monthly podcast show that is available for free download on his website.

Personal life

Away from the limelight, Leong leads a quiet life. In many of his interviews, he has emphasized his priority away from work is always his family, loved one, his pets and close friends. Leong has always shown a great love and respect for films and good writing. He has mentioned on several occasion that enjoys writing, reading and art.

On his website and official fan page on the social networking site, Facebook, Leong displays his hobby artwork (predominantly clothing customization, toy making and clay sculpting).

His website is currently under construction but he has expressed that he is working on a podcast program, articles, story writing and film projects.

Leong has always been known to have a very personal touch with the fans of his work. According to the media, he replies emails to his fans personally and makes his electronic mailing address no secret. He is also an avid animal lover.

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