PETALING JAYA, Aug 14 — Soft rock legend Michael Bolton had high praise for Malaysian singer Poova Sri Rama who is competing for the top prize on AXN’s latest talent show Asian Dream.
During a Zoom call with regional media, Bolton said Poova’s long-standing experience as a professional singer meant that she “set the bar” for other contestants on the series.
“It was great to have Poova on the show. She was very strong and confident in her own voice and interpretation of music.
“She could have been very difficult to work with if she wasn’t as open as she turned out to be and she had a great instrument to work with which was her voice.
“In a way, she set the bar for everybody else on the show,” said Bolton.
Asian Dream follows six aspiring musicians as they belt their hearts out for a chance to join Bolton on his Asian Dream Tour and become a Subaru Asia ambassador.
Bolton is the judge, creator, and executive producer of the show while Filipina singer-songwriter and TV personality Morissette Amon appears as his co-judge.
Poova and her fellow contestants from Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore will undergo mentoring and coaching under Bolton, Amon, and celebrity guest judges who will then put them to the test in weekly challenges.
Growing up in a musically-oriented family meant Poova was able to explore her talents from an early age and shape herself into the singer that she is today.
“I always knew I could sing as a child and there was a lot of music in my life growing up.
“My great-grandfather was an Indian classical musician and my dad loves to sing.
“We all played instruments and I took up piano when I was very young,” Poova told Malay Mail.
The 39-year-old started singing professionally in 2010 and described herself as a “late bloomer” as she joined the industry relatively late compared to her peers.
Having a strong support system helped Poova take the leap into singing full-time and she resigned from a career in publishing to make music her bread and butter.
She chose to delve into soul music after being inspired by none other than the iconic Aretha Franklin, also known as the Queen of Soul.
Since then, Poova has gained several accolades to her name including winning the Best New Artiste title at the 2014 Anugerah Industri Muzik and representing Malaysia at the Hong Kong Asian-Pop Music Festival in 2015.
Poova said she was elated at the chance to be mentored by a living legend like Bolton, known for hits like When a Man Loves a Woman, Go the Distance, and How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.
“He’s always been the quintessential blue-eyed soul singer for me. His range is just amazing and he has so much of that raspy, masculine character in his voice.
“He has a great sense of humour and we had such a good laugh. He’s very kind and he understands the trials and tribulations that aspiring artistes have to go through in their careers.
“He’s very passionate and he was definitely a good mentor to have.”
Poova travelled to Singapore in June last year where she spent a month filming Asian Dream.
She admitted that being on a reality show for the first time was a daunting experience, especially since she was used to performing in front of live crowds.
“I was used to doing live performances and having that interaction with the audience and that energy you get from being in a place filled with people.
“On the show, you’re surrounded by cameras and judges in a studio environment which was quite overwhelming for me.
“It was weird at first but I got used to it.”
The show also tested its singers in the form of dancing and acting workshops to hone them into well-rounded performers who could hold themselves onstage.
Poova said she gained more confidence from being pushed outside of her comfort zone on the show by delving into creative pursuits she wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
“I feel more confident in front of a camera after spending a good chunk of time doing that for almost 24 hours and seven days a week.
“I’ve definitely gained knowledge and perspective as well from being on the show.
“Learning about dancing was new for me because I can’t dance to save my life.
“I think I got to showcase other sides of myself so that was interesting.”
Poova is currently putting the finishing touches on a new Malay single composed by Omar K and the song is tentatively slated for release this October.
Asian Dream is presented by Subaru Asia in association with Passion Films and viewers can tune into the show every Thursday on AXN (Astro Channel 701 HD or 721) at 7.25pm.