updated 2 Sep 2013, 20:43
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Homegrown singer Corrine May: Should I bring up a child in Singapore?
by Juliana June Rasul

When Corrinne May was pregnant with her daughter Claire, she had a craving for tau huay (beancurd).

A simple enough request to fulfil in Singapore, even late in the night, but she was in Los Angeles (LA), her home now for 14 years.

"Where was I going to get tau huay there, right?" the home-grown singer-songwriter told The New Paper over the phone recently.

"Luckily, when I Googled, I found a shop quite close to where I am, run by a Vietnamese guy."

She may have been fortunate to have satisfied her beancurd craving in LA, with its diverse Asian population. But May, 40, has been grappling with whether the sprawling city will be the right fit for her and her family forever.

After so many years of making LA her creative base, May, the husky voice behind songs like Fly Away, said she's been struggling to make a decision about whether to return to Singapore.

It's all down to her four-year-old, Claire, and what will be best for her education.

May is perhaps one of Singapore's most successful mainstream artistes, with sold-out concerts at the Esplanade and local chart-topping albums like 2005's Safe in a Crazy World and last year's Crooked Lines to her name.

LA is where she mostly writes and records, thanks to the creative environment and community there.

She has forged bonds with musicians there, some of whom make up the regular backing band that will travel here for her concert tomorrow at 8pm at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

But over the past year, May has reconnected with friends here who have become parents.

Seeing Claire run around with kids her own age made her think about the importance of being part of a close community, and she's taken to heart the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child".

So, which village - LA or Singapore - will she be raising her child in?

"Kids here (in Singapore) don't grow as fast as they do in LA," said May, who is a permanent resident in the US.

Then there's also her husband, musician Kavin Hoo, 38, and his work in LA to consider.

"Geographically speaking, for the mind and the heart, it's more conducive to create when you have more space," she said.

But she concedes that even with the sprawling Californian plains around her, she often thinks about home when she's writing her songs. May has written five albums worth of songs about love, life and faith.

Eventually, if she does move back to Singapore, she's confident Claire will be adaptable enough to make the transition smoothly.

She's already taken to dou nai (soya bean milk) with tapioca balls, yi mi shui (barley drink) and mee tai mak (short rice noodles).

But mummy May is upset about one thing.

"She cannot stand the smell of durians. She just won't have it," said May. "Part of me is disappointed."

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