News From:The Straits Timesposted on 21 March at 3:11 PM
21 March at 3:11 PM

Singing his pain away

By Charlene Chua

Music heals the soul.

No one knows this better than Ah Boys To Men star Ridhwan Azman, who went through hell when he was nine years old.
His father had divorced his mother to marry their Indonesian maid.

The young boy was forced to grow up overnight because he had to be the pillar of support for his mother. He also had to look after his two younger siblings.

From living in a maisonette, he said he then became homeless along with his mum. They had to seek refuge at a number of relatives’ homes.

Turning to music in his darkest hour was what kept him sane. The local singer-actor broke into a radiant smile as he spoke of the silver lining in all of this.

His mother remarried when he was 12 and both of them are now happier than ever.

Ridhwan, 20, told The New Paper: “I love my stepfather very much. He is a kind and loving man who treats my mum and us right.

“I knew he was a good person when he agreed to have me along on all his dates with my mum when they first met.

“I may be living in a two-room flat now, but our home is filled with joy and happiness."

Ridhwan, who plays recruit Ismail in the hit Jack Neo army flick, became popular on YouTube after finishing in the Top 12 of reality TV singing competition Campus Superstar in2009.

Last July, he garnered more fan support when he took part in our LOUD cover contest and jammed to Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou’s songs.

Ridhwan said: “I wanted to show that I was a versatile singer who could sing in most languages, including Mandarin.

“My dream is to be a local superstar."

“As it is, I have sung in Hokkien, Malay, Hindi and Korean.” His personal music stylings lean towards R&B and he counts Canadian pop star Justin Bieber as one of his biggest influences.

Although Ridhwan has forgiven his biological father, he revealed that he was also deeply hurt when the latter used to “look down on” him.

He said his dad used to study at a top school and had lambasted his son often for wanting a career in music.

But Ridhwan, who studied at Bendemeer Secondary School, was adamant about following his dreams.

His ordeal has also made him think twice about entrusting his heart to someone else. He admitted that he has never had a girlfriend.

Since the box-office success of Ah Boys To Men, his popularity has soared and teen fangirls have asked him out on dates via social media.

But the shy guy said he will only thank them as he feels he isn’t ready for a relationship yet.

He still gets shocked whenever his fans spot him in public and shout things like, “Will you be my valentine?”.

The girls, he mused, are also extremely taken with Singapore Ted, his favourite teddy bear who’s a star in his YouTube videos.

Said Ridhwan: “I think it’s the bear that makes the girls like me.”

He added: “The biggest crush I’ve ever had was on blogger Naomi Neo who I made a video for, asking her to be my valentine.

“She replied saying that she thought it was sweet, and that was that.”

This article was first published in The New Paper on March 19, 2013.

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