What do former Westlife frontman Shane Filan and the stereotypical Singaporean parent have in common?
This anecdote he shared with us in an interview hits a little too close to home: “We were looking for a high school for my daughter, and I was definitely kiasu about our choices because I want her to go to the one with the best academics, sports and everything. It’s a big decision because she’s going to spend the next six years of her life there, but I think we’ve picked the right school so we’re happy about it.”
(We’ll get to the Irish singer-songwriter’s seemingly unexpected use of the Singlish word shortly.)
Despite his ambitious-sounding management of his 12-year-old’s education, Shane, who also has two sons aged 9 and 8 with his wife Gillian, isn’t a dad who expects his children to pursue conventional high-flying careers like medicine or law. In fact, his daughter Nicole attends theatre school and has acted in several plays, which he declared – with palpable fatherly pride in his eyes – that “she’s actually really good” in.
“When she’s in college she might want to go into theatre or the arts, and we’d encourage whatever our kids want to do because there’s no point in pushing them in a direction they don’t want to go,” he said. “I always wanted to be a singer but unless my mum encouraged it, I wouldn’t be here.”
By “here”, of course, Shane means this point in his long and illustrious career, both as a lead singer in Westlife and as a soloist after the iconic group, purveyors of many a nostalgia-inducing tune from the late 90s and noughties, tragically disbanded in 2012. Today, the 38-year-old is still busy making music and touring the globe, and Singapore was his first Asian stop to promote his latest album Love Always over the weekend.