Photo: Facebook / @SunYanzi

We don’t think it’s an exaggeration when we say that Stefanie Sun is a national treasure. The super-talented singer-songwriter, who has been in the industry for a whopping 19 years (give or take a little, since she has taken two breaks), kickstarted her career with Yan Zi in 2000 after she graduated from Nanyang Technological University with a degree in business studies.

Her debut album was followed by My Desired Happiness, also in 2000, which cemented her status as The One to Watch.

Stefanie snagged multiple Best Newcomer awards that year and her first three albums went on to sell 1.5 million copies by Sept 2001. Til today, Stef enjoys massive popularity in Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia. There’s of course, her National Day Parade theme songs which almost every Singaporean can sing with gusto, her flamboyant and energetic sold-out concerts and her bold coloured ‘dos (she once spotted a full head of neon orange hair).

There are plenty of things we know and love about her. But since Stefanie is celebrating her 41st birthday (who would have thought the bubbly, pixie-faced popstar was anywhere near this digit?) on July 23, we thought we scour for some little-known facts about Singapore’s most famous singer.

Think you know everything there is to know about her? Read on.


1. She removed a mole, apparently for superstitious reasons


A post shared by Stef Sng (@stefsunyanzi) on

Photo: Instagram / @stefsunyanzi

Rumours started buzzing in 2011 when Stefanie attended a publicity event at Beijing sans her trademark mole — which was at the corner of her right eyelid. The sharp-eyed Chinese media immediately caught wind, and speculated that she removed it because she wanted to have a Dragon baby. 2012 is the year of the dragon, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. In an interview with The New Paper, she confirmed that she had removed it permanently and felt relieved that she didn’t have to see it anymore every time she looked in the mirror.

Asked whether it was because she wanted to increase her chances of conceiving a baby, she said, half in jest: “Yes, the great teacher in the hidden mountains of the Himalayas also said I would be even more popular than ever, have super smart triplets, a very smooth pregnancy and a long-lasting marriage filled with much bliss and happiness”. She adds: “Just as long as I remove a piece of flesh atop my right eye.”

Fun fact: She gave birth to a baby boy in Oct 2012. Coincidence?


2. She got her start because someone believed in her

Photo: Facebook / @SunYanzi

At a time when it was rare (we mean impossible) for well-known international labels to sign local artistes, Warner Music Group in Singapore decided to make an exception for Stefanie. Its then-managing director, Kathleen Tan, said in an interview with The New Paper that “Stefanie Sun has sheer talent that money can’t buy”. She adds: “If I, as the managing director, and my counterpart in Taiwan didn’t believe in that talent, she would not be what she is today.”

It was also thanks to Stefanie’s mentors Lee Wei Song and Lee Si Song that she got her big break — they were the ones who approached Warner Music Singapore for a recording contract in 1999. Stef was taking lessons at the Lee Wei Song School of Music at the time.


3. Her label launched her first single in an unconventional way

Photo: Facebook / @SunYanzi

With a down-to-earth demeanour and a raw, fresh-faced girl-next-door appeal, Stefanie was no conventional starlet (read: not glamorous enough). The label decided to introduce her in a more creative manner, by cutting a sample of her song, Cloudy Sky, and getting it played on music-linked websites and Warner Music’s official homepage.

Little was revealed except for the singer’s name and the song title, and it was accompanied by a tagline, “There’s never been before a 22-year-old singer like this girl”, according to Kathleen Tan. The song was played continuously and it went viral, piquing people’s interest. The rest, is history.


4. She once had an autograph session in Taiwan disrupted by a man waving a gun

Photo: Facebook / @SunYanzi

In the year 2000, a man apparently stormed an autograph session and tried to hold Stefanie hostage with a gun. He rushed on stage, grabbed Sun and fired a shot in the air at the Sogo Department Store in Chungli, a town near Taipei.

Security guards reportedly subdued the man, suspected to be mentally ill, and handed him to the police. Whew!


5. Her younger sister looks like a splitting image of her


A post shared by Stef Sng (@stefsunyanzi) on

Photo: Instagram / @stefsunyanzi

In fact, the staff in a restaurant they went to couldn’t tell who was the real Stef, according to a hilarious Instagram post, in which she jokingly told them her sister was the real Stefanie. Her sister is in fact six years younger, and reports say she reportedly works as a doctor at the dermatology department at Singapore General Hospital.

They also have an elder sister who apparently works in the financial industry. Her sisters frequently appear on her social media posts and have both made appearances at her concerts.


6. She secretly married her Dutch-Indonesian husband


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Photo: Instagram / @stefsunyanzi

In March 2011, Stefanie secretly registered her marriage to Dutch-Indonesian Nadim Van Der Ros, whom she had been dating for five years. He’s not in the entertainment industry — he’s the founder of Be An Idea, a brand strategy consultancy that facilitates better conversations for positive change. Sidenote: Nadim, who is usually content to remain in the background, is not afraid to “defend” his wife’s honour when he has to. 

In 2015, when the City Harvest Church controversy erupted, he made a public service announcement on Facebook, clarifying that Stefanie is not Sun Ho. Singer Sun Ho is the wife of City Harvest Church founder, Kong Hee.

“Just for the record and for my non-Chinese friends, this Sun Ho is neither a relation nor should be confused with my wife, Stefanie Sun or Sun Yanzi. My wife is a touch more successful in her singing career, infinitely more talented and beautiful, both inside and out,” he wrote.


7. She’s extremely private about her children


A post shared by Stef Sng (@stefsunyanzi) on

Photo: Instagram / @stefsunyanzi

Stefanie almost never reveals the faces of her two children — a six-year-old boy and a girl born in July 2018, preferring to keep that part of her life private (as it should be). They always appear from the back, side, or with their faces covered (pictured) with a cartoonish substitute or with something covering their faces.

Interestingly, although she’s often seen out and about town with her son (she’s been spotted at kopi tiams and queuing for fast food, looking charmingly unglam BTW) there are no photos of them on the internet. In an interview, she said she was very grateful that people here respect her privacy.

“I do feel very lucky. It also made me realise that people are very decent, be it the media or the public. I take my kid everywhere. And they know not to take pics of him and it’s really… I feel like people should know that humans can be decent lah.” Stef, who gave birth to her daughter when she was 40, is not afraid to share anecdotes about her kiddos, though.

Like how her son, whom she affectionately calls Na Xiao Zi (that boy in Mandarin), was terrible at keeping secrets (he broke the news that she was pregnant to his classmates in school) and how he has a funny laugh that makes his face light up. Aww.


8. She has an orchid named after her and a wax statue too


Photo: Twitter / @stefsunyanzi

As a testament to her star power and popularity, Stefanie even had an orchid named after her, the Dendrobium Stefanie Sun, in 2006 — making her the first local celebrity to get such an honour. She also has a wax figure of herself at the Madame Tussauds Singapore wax museum which portrays her signature look for her 2014 Kepler World Tour (aka aforementioned bright orange hair), as well as a black fringed singlet, leather leggings, shoes by Alexander Wang, and a crystal-encrusted microphone.

Stef was apparently involved in the creative process, and the figurine took around four months to make and costs $300,00.