The Singaporean singer-songwriter, who will perform at the Archdiocesan Catholic Family Dialogue, shares her views with M Chua
IT COULD have been a case of Sister Corrinne Foo May Ying, the singing nun. That it did not materialise does not make her current vocation less fulfilling, as “God knows better”, says Corrinne May, now the singing wife and mother.
And judging from her resolute views about marriage and parenthood, she leaves no doubt where her calling is.
The singer-songwriter, who has been living and working in Los Angeles for the past 15 years, is back in Singapore for a short stay to catch up with family and friends – and to keep a date with the first ever Archdiocesan Catholic Family Dialogue next month (see boxed story).
But Singapore has never been distant for this Ghim Moh girl who also grew up in Toa Payoh. She keeps in close touch with home and returns at least once a year, if not to recharge relationships, at least to indulge in chicken rice, said the self-confessed foodie.
If she is very Singaporean at heart, she is even more Catholic in the soul. “If I wasn’t a singer, yes, I’d probably be a nun,” she said quite seriously. And why not, since many of her songs are enlivened by Christian lyrics borne from hours of spiritual reflection and personal experiences.
Despite not being schooled in a convent, the lure of a Religious vocation did cross her mind in her undergraduate years at the National University of Singapore. It was a period that helped to define her spirituality as she made sense of her faith and early Catholic upbringing.
However, Religious life was but one of few career paths the academically gifted young Corrinne had in front of her. With a double degree (including honours in Literature) and a couple of singing awards in tow, she followed her heart to Boston’s Berklee College of Music where she met her would-be husband, Kavin Hoo, in late 1996.
Her life’s vocation was sealed when they got married in 2003. And she continues to validate this “most beautiful vocation” across two continents and two divergent paradigms: Catholic family woman from the east making a living in the entertainment industry in the west.
“I’ve never had any issue of peer pressure with drugs or alcohol or the like, because most of my friends already know that when it comes to these, I am happy to be considered the prude,” she said unapologetically. “I choose to spend time with musicians who are focused on their music and not the distractions.”
As for work-life balance, she said, “It helps that Kavin is also a musician and we can always speak the language of music with each other. He understands what I’m trying to convey with my music. Besides, it’s a blessing that we both get to work from our home studio. So our daughter Claire has either of us to look after her.”
Her dedication towards five-year-old Claire involves what she calls, “sowing little seeds”: a holistic yet informal education of Gospel values found in everyday living.
Said the 41-year-old mother: “The most important job I have as Claire’s mother is to guide her steps home to God at the end of this life.”
That would include a weekly two-hour drive to the next county just so Claire could attend the Catechism of the Good Shepherd (CGS) classes.
“We also have nightly bedtime prayer before Claire sleeps and we say grace before meals. Just little things to build up her faith. I also take her for Eucharistic adoration and for the lunchtime Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in LA, whenever I can, “ she added.
Why the need for all this? “It has to do with the challenges faced by parents today, like the secular society’s push to normalise or glamorise certain ways of life that are in conflict with what the Church teaches, the allure of the world’s values through the more intrusive nature of the media, and of peer pressure,” she said.
“By laying a solid foundation of virtues and values, we help them to navigate through all this worldly noise, and to hear God’s voice and to have the wisdom to discern how they should act and behave,” explained the nearly-nun.
So... Corrinne May wears an apron and makes it a habit.
|Singing, sharing at AFCD
Corrinne May will perform and share her views on family life, and being a wife and mother in today’s world.
Event: Archdiocesan Catholic Family Dialogue
Date: Oct 22 (public holiday)
Time: 8.30am-4 pm
What: A discussion on the challenges facing the Catholic family today. The event will also feature Archbishop William Goh, a panel discussion and breakout group discussion.
Cost: $15 (inclusive of lunch)
Sign up at: www.catholicfamily.sg/dialogue