Joanna Dong

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Joanna Dong
Dong Zhiyan, Joanna

(1981-11-15) 15 November 1981 (age 37)
Alma materPaya Lebar Methodist Girls' School (Primary)
Raffles Girls' School
Victoria Junior College
National University of Singapore
OccupationSinger, host, actress
Years active2004–present
Zachary Ho (m. 2012)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese董姿彥
Simplified Chinese董姿彦
Musical career
GenresFolk jazz
Bossa nova

Joanna Dong (Chinese: 董姿彦; born 15 November 1981 in Singapore) is a Singaporean singer, actress and host. Primarily a jazz vocalist, she is the first artiste signed to Singapore label, Red Roof Records.[1]

Personal life[edit]

The only child of divorced parents, her initial forays into the world of entertainment came in the 1980s when her mother, a former Chinese teacher, started entering her into karaoke competitions, many of which she won. After attending The Raffles Girls' School and Victoria Junior College, she graduated from the National University of Singapore with honours in sociology.[2]

Dong met her husband, theatre practitioner and educator, Zachary Ho, on the set of ‘Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral’ in 2010. They wed in 2012.

Dong is also friends with fellow Singaporean singer Olinda Cho, after they met as teammates of Team Jay Chou on the sidelines of Sing! China in 2017.


She first came into the public eye when she joined the first-ever Singapore Idol competition in 2004 and reached the Top 40. Six months after exiting the talent competition, Joanna began pursuing a music career in earnest, landing her first regular singing gig in The Courtyard at Raffles Hotel.

Dong released her EP, ‘Lullaby Nomad’, in 2008, which launched with a concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio. She also collaborated with Brazilian all-stars band, Bossa Negra, to release a single of her Mandarin translation of popular bossa nova standard ‘Summer Samba’ in 2010. She also performs with her own project bands. She has rearranged Hokkien songs in a contemporary jazz style with Peace Kopitiam Jazz Band (2012 – 2014) and reworked dirty lyrics into Christmas ditties with alternative Christmas band, Naughty “Noor” Nice (2010 – 2015). In 2015, Dong collaborated with fellow Singapore Idol, Sezairi Sezali, on the first Mandarin and Malay pop track, ‘Starlight’, for Sing, Love, a SG50 musical project by Red Roof Records.

In July 2017, Dong appeared under the spotlight again as the first of five Singapore entrants to audition for the second season of Sing! China,[3] in which she sang a jazz arrangement of Lo Ta-yu's classic Love Song 1990, and joined Team Jay alongside fellow Singaporean, and teammate Olinda Cho.[4] She then became the second Singaporean after Nathan Hartono to make it to the finals, after having defeated Cho the episode before that aired 29 September.[5][6]

She put up a strong solo performance of Fong Fei-fei's When I Hear Applause (likewise in a jazz arrangement) and emerged second runner-up in the finals held at the Beijing National Stadium on October 8, 2017, losing out to Guo Qin of Team Na Ying and Team Liu Huan member Zhaxipingcuo of Tibet.[7] Her third-place finish is the second best achievement in the show by Singapore thus far (behind Hartono). Nonetheless, she has expressed that she is now more confident of pursuing a singing career.[8]


Apart from singing, Dong, who took theatre studies at Victoria Junior College, also expressed herself on stage in various theatre productions from 1998. In 2007, she landed the principal role of Rose in If There’re Seasons..., a musical based on the music of Xinyao pioneer, Liang Wen Fook, and won Best Supporting Actress in the ST Life! Theatre Awards for her performance. She would reprise the role in 2009 and 2014 re-runs. In 2008, she played leads in Mandarin comedy, The Soldier and his Virtuous Wife and Tan Kheng Hua's raunchy directorial debut, Do Not Disturb – Late Checkout Please. In 2010, she was lead actress in the period rock musical, Liao Zhai Rocks!, inspired by colourful Qing dynasty folk stories. In 2011, Dong took on the lead of Small Papaya in Goh Boon Teck's stage production of Royston Tan's 881. She was also in the ensemble cast in Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress (2006), Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral (2010), Impending Storm: The Silly Little Girl and the Funny Old Tree (2012), Lao Jiu: The Musical (2012) and Great World Cabaret (2015).[9]


Extended Plays[edit]

Year Title Label
2008 Lullaby Nomad Independent


Year Title Label
2015 “星光”, solo Mandarin version of “Starlight” Red Roof Records
2011 “Sing me to Sleep”, Fundraiser Theme Song for InHerShoes concert Independent
2010 “Summer Samba”, (as lead vocalist of Bossa Negra) Freelance United Music (Hong Kong)
2008 “别松开⼿手“, Fundraiser song for Sichuan Earthquake Victims Kenn O Productions

Original Soundtracks[edit]

Year Title Label
2014 天冷就回来 If There’re Seasons, Collector's Edition The Theatre Practice
2011 881 The Musical Toy Factory Productions
我爱你爱你爱你 Forever, (vocalist and lyricist for “我相信“) Bobbing Buoy Productions
2009 天冷就回来 If There’re Seasons Warner Music Singapore and The Theatre Practice
Blood Ties, (“Close To You”) Oak 3 Films


Year Title Label
2015 Sing, Love, “Starlight” duet with Sezairi Red Roof Records


Year Title Label
2015 Naughty “Noor” Nice (eponymous EP) Independent
2007 Sturm und Drang, Robosonic (featured vocalist on “Die kleine Prinzessin”) Diskomafia
2003 Budakumentary, Budak Pantai (as member of ngam, on “I Wanna Be With You/ Drive”) Independent



In 2011, Dong took the lead in writer/director Wee Li Lin's sophomore feature effort, Forever as a video consultant who falls for a handsome music teacher. The role earned her the Star Hunter Award at the Shanghai International Film Festival in 2011. She was also the lead actress in Thong Kay Wee's risqué short film, Hidden Folk, as a woman whose sexual affair with a 15-year-old comes back to haunt her.

Year Title Role Production Company Director
2013 Hidden Folk (short film) Lead, “Lilian Mah” FLIM Thong Kay Wee
2011 我爱你爱你爱你 (Forever) Lead, “Joey” Bobbing Buoy Productions Wee Li Lin

Television series[edit]

Dong recently expanded her repertoire to include TV hosting in Ch U's infotainment series, ‘Homeward Bound’ and ‘Life Extraordinaire’.

Year Title Role Production Company Channel
2019 How Are You? Mediacorp Channel 8
2017 City DNA Host unknown Channel News Asia
2015 寻找毅中⼈人 Life Extraordinaire Host 360 Productions Channel U
我家在这⾥里 Homeward Bound Host 360 Productions Channel U
2009 缘⾛走天涯 The Way We Live Featured profile August Pictures Channel U
新加坡。极爱。极短篇 Love Singapore Featured profile 360 Productions Channel U
2004 Singapore Idol Season 1 Contestant, top 40 Mediacorp Channel 5

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Ceremony Accolade Works Notes
2018 24th Star Awards Ceremony Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes N/A Top 20
2019 Asian Rainbow TV Awards Best Female Host Award National Flavours


  1. ^ "Joanna Dong". Red Roof Records. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Joanna Dong". Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Another Singaporean jazz singer picked for Team Jay Chou on Sing! China". The Straits Times. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Singaporeans Joanna Dong, Olinda Cho to battle each other in Sing! China". Today (The Straits Times). 27 September 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  5. ^ Wong, Casandra (29 September 2017). "Local jazz singer Joanna Dong pulls through to represent S'pore in Sing! China finals". Today. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Singaporean Joanna Dong through to Sing! China grand final". Channel NewsAsia. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Singaporean singer Joanna Dong emerges second runner-up in Sing! China finals". The Straits Times. 8 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Joanna Dong more confident of pursuing singing career after third place in Sing! China". The Straits Times. 9 October 2017.
  9. ^ "From jazz music to yodelling as Sakura Teng". Lifestyle, The Straits Times. 16 February 2015.

External links[edit]