The first time we heard of Poonam Singh, she was just 15 years old and a finalist in the GT&T Jingle and Song Competition. Poonam really wowed the judges and the audience, but she eventually lost out to Brandon Harding of Linden.
Clearly 2011 was not Poonam’s year, but 2016 so obviously is. Poonam has been selected to represent Guyana at the Miss Global International pageant, which is scheduled to be held in Mauritius. After being held in Jamaica for ten years, the pageant was held in Trinidad and Tobago last year and is now billed for Mauritius.
Poonam’s platform for the pageant is ‘Eradicating Suicide’ and it was chosen by the Miss Global International Guyana team, since it is an area that Poonam has been targeting on Facebook. Sometime ago, she had posted a video of herself on her Facebook page of her original song, “Life is a Gift.” The video, which targets persons who are depressed and having suicidal thoughts, has had over 160,000 views, but something else happened.
“Instantly I started getting messages from persons. Every day I find time to respond to messages from persons with those kind of thoughts. Sometimes I wait until I get home or while waiting on a teacher who might be a few minutes late. All that matters is helping that person. There’s so much more we can do and it should not be taken for granted,” Poonam said.
“We need more activities that can cater for all. When you have so many things going on, you have no time to be depressed. If plan ‘A’ doesn’t work, have a plan ‘B’. There are many letters in the alphabet; always have a back-up plan. You can make your own destiny. Stick to your religious beliefs whatever they are. On the piano there are black and white keys… You have to play both in order to get a good song.”
Poonam wants to be even more proactive in stamping out suicide. Beyond addressing the issue in schools, she said, “I’m trying to create a body whereby persons contemplating suicide cannot just call us but meet with us also.”
Speaking about the pageant, Poonam said, “Honestly, if you had told me I’d be representing my country on an international level someday; a pageant would have never been my guess. However, I’m very happy to be the new queen for Miss Global International Guyana (MGIG), mainly because I can clearly assert that this won’t be about how elegant I can look in a dress, or how mind-blowing my speeches would be. This would chiefly be about my purpose to represent, to serve and dedicate my entire year and successfully and sincerely carry out my duties as a MGIG queen.”
She hopes that as the new Miss Global International Guyana and with her platform she can have the support from doctors, artistes and lawyers and other influential people to tackle the suicide issue here in Guyana.
After undergoing a screening process last September, Poonam was contacted by Managing Director of Miss Global International Guyana, Hashim Ali inquiring about her interest in pageantry. She was crowned by Miss Global International Guyana 2015 Alicia Bess on February 20 at a simple Coronation and Gala Ball held in the ballroom of the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
The Miss Global International Pageant is slated for September.
The reigning queen was once a student of the McGillivray Primary and Patentia Secondary schools. While at Patentia, she was a head prefect, but always seemed a timid person so when she had auditioned for the Jingle Competition, one friend asked what she was doing up there, wondering how it was that she mustered the courage to enter the competition.
Poonam recalls, “I was waiting on my CSEC results. I was 15 going on 16 at that time. Every time the competition came around it was always for persons 16 and above and I had always wanted to audition. However, that year they dropped the limitations and I realized that was the opportunity to do so. I was very shy and I had this one friend who was going to UG and had skipped classes to be there. After hearing the other singers I felt I was embarking on something I didn’t think I could handle. At the end I was successful. I had auditioned with Shania Twain’s hit song ‘From This Moment’.”
The songwriter is also a devoted Hindu and would visit the Mandir with her family every Sunday. Past Gita competitions would have seen her participating. She had to memorize as much as 72 verses from the Bhagavad Gita and was the champion three times in a row.
According to Poonam, family members told her that she has been singing since the tender age of three. Her favourite singer is Celine Dion. Growing up, she sang Celine’s songs over and over, especially for her grandmother. She doesn’t consider herself a bathroom singer but more of a random one. According to a cousin who was present during the interview, “If you say sorry to her [Poonam], she begins singing Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ song. That is how she is.”
The singer has been writing songs since grade three. “I have two singles out so far. I have a ‘gazillion’ of unfinished songs but only like a hundred finished ones,” she said.
She enjoys listening to singers from all different genres such as the band Magic, Coldplay, Taylor Swift and even singer Alkaline.
Recently Poonam posted a video on Facebook of her latest single “G.U.Y.A.N.A” Being a patriotic person the song was actually for her fans. However, the song was shared by many persons including President David Granger, First Lady Sandra Granger and former minister, Priya Manickchand among others. She is currently working along with Minister of Telecommunications and Tourism Cathy Hughes to prepare her song for Guyana’s 50th anniversary. And it all began with patriotism. In fact, according to Poonam, “A true pageant girl should always be patriotic.”
She added, “You can’t tell outsiders ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’ if we have inequality here. Charity starts at home. Change your lifestyle.”
Austrian and American actress, model and inventor Hedy Lamarr, who died in 2000 at the age of 85, has recently become Poonam’s greatest inspiration. Poonam said that after happening on information about Lamarr, she realized the two had a lot in common. Lamarr was said to be the most beautiful face of her time and was photographed wearing a half-veil, as was the fashion then. Poonam has done a photoshoot wearing a similar veil.
One of the challenges she faces as an artiste in Guyana is broken promises. “I try not to put all my eggs in one basket. I always work with more than one person just in case one lets me down.”
When asked about her pet-peeves she replies, “I don’t like it when people use ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ when texting. I don’t like when they use shorthand. I don’t like boastful people but what I don’t like most would be two-faced people. I’ve met so many people who are two-faced that it has become a pet-peeve. It’s also a challenge because then you don’t know who to trust.”
Although she hasn’t a pet she wishes she had a goldfish. When it comes to food Miss Global International Guyana 2016 enjoys seven-curry, sweet meats, sweet and sour chicken, Popeye’s and for dessert chocolate truffle cake. She enjoys watching movies that have a proper storyline. Her favourite shows are “Quantico,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Fringe”.
Poonam has a Diploma in Communications and is currently pursuing a degree in Law at the University of London through Nations University.