By Lisa Twang
The New Paper
Tuesday, Mar 1, 2016
Step into Shanghai Dolly one of these nights and you might be surprised to see an ang moh performer on stage.
Russian singer Anna Hristenko, 25, is the latest addition to the Mandopop club's pool of nine performers and she sings in both English and Mandarin.
Six nights a week, the brunette singer belts out contemporary Mandopop tunes such as Taiwanese pop diva A-Mei's Listen To The Sea as well as classics like Jing Ting's You Are The Only One In My Heart.
"I love to sing for others," Miss Hristenko told The New Paper in halting English in a phone interview last Friday.
"Right now, my Mandarin is not so good and I can only speak using basic phrases like 'ni hao ma' (how are you) and 'wo ai ni' (I love you). But I will be taking lessons to improve both my English and Mandarin."
Miss Hristenko moved to Singapore a year and a half ago from Bangkok, on the advice of a friend who thought she would prefer Singapore's more laid-back way of life.
She was introduced to Mandopop songs a year ago by a friend who had a Chinese Singaporean husband.
Fascinated by the "very nice" tunes, Miss Hristenko decided to learn them and translate their lyrics to fully understand their meaning.
She had no previous exposure to the Chinese language or culture.
"My favourite artist is A-Mei, because she has a beautiful voice and her style is very European, so I can relate to her," she said.
Born in a small village in Russia, Miss Hristenko studied opera in the Russian city of Stavropol and she sings in Russian, Italian and French, in addition to Mandarin and English.
She also has experience in dance choreography and modelling and is a part-time freelance hair and make-up artist in addition to being a full-time singer at Shanghai Dolly.
Although she has been at Shanghai Dolly for only about three weeks, Miss Hristenko has a growing number of fans among the club's patrons.
"Some customers are really happy to see me and ask to take pictures and videos with me," she said.
Mr Jay Toh, creative director of Shanghai Dolly, told TNP: "We hired Anna because of her very powerful stage presence. Our customers like her a lot, and since she is Russian, they are more impressed because she can sing in Mandarin. She is fun and friendly - a little crazy sometimes - and above all, hard-working."
Miss Hristenko, who is single, said she used to have a Chinese Singaporean boyfriend who was a tattoo artist and she picked up a little Mandarin from him.
When asked if she would like to settle down in Singapore and marry a local, she said with a laugh: "Maybe, but for now I want to focus on my job."
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