Hong Kong's GEM could win China's hit TV singing competition 'I Am a Singer 2'. But along 6.5 million new fans comes one very public breakup.

Growing up, Hong Kong child GEM never imagined she would become a professional singer. “I had hoped to pursue a music career, maybe become a piano teacher,” says the breakout star of China's hit reality TV show, I Am a Singer 2. “I never thought of being a singer because it was such a distant dream.”

But the 22-year-old has not only found stardom in music, she's also being hailed as the frontrunner of the highly-rated singing competition. GEM, which stands for Get Everybody Moving, has been winning
over audiences and their votes to stay ahead in the show. She's already won four consecutive episodes – each week's winner is determined by
the 500-plus studio audience – most recently with a cover of Fallin’  by Alicia Keys. 

GEM's popularity has skyrocketed since appearing on the show. Her Internet fan page jumped from having 1.5
million followers to 8 million, and her fame has sparked a rumour that Hong Kong superstar Sandy Lam will only join I Am a Singer if GEM is eliminated. Other singers in the competition now include Malaysia’s Shila Amzah, China's Zhou Bichang and Taiwan's Phil Chang. The finale is on April 4.

“I was shocked by the explosive increase in the number of fans on my Weibo after the programme aired,” says GEM, whose real name is Gloria Tang. “I was moved by the supportive messages left by the fans. It gives me the motivation to work hard and improve myself, so as not to disappoint them.”

GEM was already famous in Hong Kong even before I Am a Singer 2. Making her showbiz debut at 15, she then became the youngest artist to perform at the Hong Kong Coliseum, a coveted concert venue for Mandopop and Cantopop singers, when she was 19. But she has also since discovered the price the fame – the loss of a private life.

Along with I Am a Singer 2 came greater media and public scrutiny of her personal affairs. Her breakup with Taiwanese singer Yoga Lin sent her manager into crisis management mode, as he labelled Lin “irresponsible” and painted his client as the real victim of the split. GEM prefers to leave questions about her love life unanswered.

“There were times when I felt like giving up,” she recalls. “I wanted only to make music. I felt it was such a pain to have to deal with public scrutiny and gossip. I felt frustrated and discouraged. But I simply love music too much to give it up.”

So who is her biggest contender on the show? It's herself, she says. “Every week I have to prepare for a performance; I’m always thinking how I can bring something refreshing and surprising to the stage. I want to have a breakthrough. That, to me, is the hardest part of being on the show.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network.