Although he’s been a warbler since he was 2 years old, Reggie Pryor’s “slightly deeper voice with a distinctive timbre” proved to be more of a liability than an asset in his kindergarten’s choir.
“You want a certain lightness when it comes to children’s choirs and I didn’t have that,” the East Java-born Pryor admits. “Every time I opened my mouth to sing, they’d say ‘no, no, no, no’. It dented my confidence,” remembers Pryor.
Thankfully, talent always triumphs. A few years later, he landed the plum role of Friedrich von Trapp in the iconic musical The Sound of Music onstage in Jakarta. This success solidified his love for singing, which he brought to Singapore 20 years ago on an Asean scholarship to study at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). He later moved on to Raffles Junior College, honing his soothing, dulcet baritone with the Raffles Chorale and Raffles Singers under acclaimed conductor Toh Ban Sheng.
The gigs followed. Pryor, 36, is one of the founding members of Regu A, an award-winning Indonesian vocal group. He has also crooned at weddings worldwide. However, when it was time to choose a career, he went with finance as he was fascinated by “how people run the world economy with just numbers behind a desk”. He was accepted into the management trainee programme at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation where he spent 12 years. He is currently transitioning into a partner role at a multi-family office fund with Sunray Woodcraft Construction scion Charles Tan.
Instead of putting his feet up, he used his time between roles to probe a musical collaboration with local saxophonist Daniel Chia, turning an idea into a single, then an EP and then a full album.
“People knew me as a wedding singer, someone who sings all the lovey-dovey songs. While I love those, I wanted to create an album that could bring people through all the different types of love and its pleasures and pains.”
Launched last December, Love Anthology traces the arc of love in iconic songs such as ‘La Vie En Rose, (I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons’ and ‘Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye’. It’s available in a physical disc format as well as on Spotify and Apple Music. Co-produced by Pryor and Chia, it also features the work of Grammy-nominee Adam Omar Hawley and celebrity photographer and jazz fan, Russel Wong, who shot the album covers.
While the songs were recorded in just two days, Pryor admits he wasn’t prepared for the post-production process that followed. For example, he took nine months to edit and master the record so that the many layers of instrumental music were nuanced, yet didn’t overwhelm his vocals. “It took me a long time to get used to listening to myself over and over again,” he says, laughing. He is now working on a single featuring original songs which will revolve – fittingly – around empowering people to pursue their passion. His finance alter-ego, meanwhile, is hard at work on both the partner role and a wine investment fund due to launch by the year’s end.
“With Covid-19, there are quite a few vineyards struggling, and we do see opportunities in terms of what we can revitalise and hopefully sell to the market later on.”
He may have an old soul, but Pryor’s eye is fixed firmly on the future. Asked whether he would have dinner with Justin Bieber or his all-time idol Nat King Cole, he cannily chooses the former.
“The kind of collaborations he did with so many people from different genres is just amazing. His creativity and how he maintains his persona, image and brand are something to emulate.”
And if Pryor could sing only one song for the rest of his life, which would he choose? “It has to be ‘The Sound of Music’. It triggered this entire journey.”