5Qs with Cheryl K, Singer-Songwriter and Actress

If you watched “Crazy Rich Asians”, you would have heard Singaporean Cheryl K singing at the opening title and ending credits! Find out more about her journey in the music industry in the U.S. and how she’s living the American dream.

By SGN | 1 Nov 2021


Tell us a bit about yourself – what brought you to the U.S.?

I’m a singer-songwriter and actress based in Los Angeles, California.

Since I was 8, my dream was always to be a singer, so Los Angeles was a place that I’ve always had my eye on to try and live that Hollywood dream. Back in 2010, I had the opportunity to participate in the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) competition in LA as a vocalist and won a Hollywood Industry award along with several gold, silver, and bronze medals. That competition had me stay in LA for two weeks and gave me a glimpse of the life here, and since then I’ve always wanted to come back. There were a few agents and managers from the competition who were interested in working with me locally so I felt like I had something to offer here in the US.

Hence, I chose to study in the US and graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2018 with a B.S. in Business Administration and a minor in Music Industry. My big break came when Jon M. Chu, who was then directing “Crazy Rich Asians”, discovered me singing a 15 second acapella clip on YouTube and got Warner Bros. Pictures to hire me.

Cheryl K celebrates her graduation at the University of Southern California (USC)

I sang the Opening Title and Ending Credits song, “Money (That’s What I Want)” with Awkwafina on the soundtrack for the blockbuster movie “Crazy Rich Asians” and attended the red carpet World Premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre with the cast and crew. That was an amazing experience I will never forget. The movie opened up a lot more doors for me and I have been working as a full-time singer and actress in the US since then.

As part of my American dream, I’ve always wanted to be on the TV show “American Idol”, having grown up watching it. After a few rigorous rounds of auditions, I was fortunate enough to be casted on American Idol 2021 where I got to duet with Lionel Richie! The episode aired on ABC earlier this year and since then, I’ve been performing all over the US and have released a couple of my own original songs on major music platforms such as Spotify and iTunes. Stay tuned for more!


Where do you find inspiration, and how is it reflected in your creative process?

I find inspiration from life experiences and from meeting new people. Some of my music influences are Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Adele, Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera. I love discovering new songs to sing and often challenge myself to learn difficult songs so that I can perform them at my events.

Cheryl K singing at the “Asian Women Empowered” Launch Event for Asia Society in Los Angeles on 12 October 2021

I’m often known as the girl with the big voice in a small body and love singing big and powerful soulful songs. I love writing my own songs and funnily enough, derive a lot of my inspiration while I’m singing in the shower! Many of my songs are written to tell a part of my life story and I hope that I can inspire and empower others through my music as I believe it is a powerful universal language.


Through your work, you have met many talented people. Who did you enjoy working with most, and why?

Two people who stand out to me in my favorite memories are director Jon M. Chu and music legend David Foster. The first time I met Jon M. Chu was in the studio when I recorded for the movie, “Crazy Rich Asians”. I was so excited when he walked in the door that I had to put my headphones down to immediately greet him with a big hug. Jon was so nice and humble, and he helped direct me while I was recording my song. I was also involved in a photoshoot with Jon and a few of the main cast for the New York Times and that was really fun!

Cheryl K with Jon M. Chu in the recording studio for “Crazy Rich Asians.”

As for David Foster, I was selected and flown in to perform with him at one of his “David Foster and Friends” concerts back in 2014 where I sang “Listen” by Beyoncé with his band as accompaniment and him on the piano. In that concert, I also got to sing another song with Eric Benét and Ruben Studdard (American Idol Season 2 Winner). These were all very precious moments to me and bucket list items that I never thought I’d get to experience in life, and I feel so blessed to have worked with these people.

Cheryl K performing with David Foster at the “David Foster & Friends” concert in 2014

What are your hobbies?

I love skateboarding, dancing, arts and crafts, ziplining, and traveling.

Cheryl K loves ziplining everywhere she travels!

How do you stay connected to Singapore?

I have a big family there – my mom is Singaporean and my sister, aunt, grandparents, and other relatives are all living in Singapore. WhatsApp is a great way to video chat and stay connected with them, so I stay up late at night because of the time difference to chat with them all the time. They make me hungry by sending me pictures of my favorite foods from Singapore that I can’t get here. I also try and keep up with the news by following Singaporean pages on social media, and I hang out with a few of my Singaporean friends here in LA. I also am constantly on a hunt for good authentic Singaporean food in LA and will travel far to eat because there’s nothing like a taste of home.

Cheryl K proudly holding the Singapore flag

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