Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket People: From Yala to “la la la’

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Warunee ‘Gig’ Suwannurak is no ordinary singer. The Phuket-based diva, and recent ‘Thailand’s Got Talent’ sensation tells her story to the Phuket Gazette.

Her powerful delivery of Pink’s (rendition of) What’s Up in the first round of Thailand’s Got Talent competition received a rapturous applause from the spellbound audience.

One of the three judges proclaimed: “This woman will go on to win.”

Within hours of the show, word spread like wildfire about the talent of this unassuming 32-year-old woman from the South who had little education.

The TGT organizers clearly wanted to play on Warunee’s humble background to capture the audience’s imagination. And the ploy worked. The subsequent short clip of her performance posted by fans on YouTube warranted almost two million views within one week.

Her overnight success didn’t last very long. In the weeks that followed, the blogosphere began to dig up her past – tabloid style.

They quickly found out that she had a farang boyfriend and that she had been abroad, (as a picture of her frolicking in the Danish snow showed) and began to question if she was the poor girl they made her out to be.

“I kept myself in for a few days because I couldn’t face the world,” she says, and proceeds to tell her side of the story.

Born and raised in Yala, Warunee left school at the age of 12 and spent a large part of her teenage years working as a cleaner; her parents couldn’t afford to pay school fees for all their five children.

Having always been a keen singer, Warunee found her voice at the age of 18 when she joined a small band that performed in hotels and bars along the border town of Betong in Narathiwat province.

Though understanding little English, she did try her hand at singing English songs by mimicking the sounds made by other singers, at first with disastrous results.

“I was so embarrassed I promised myself to learn English,” she recalls.

A failed marriage and one daughter later, Warunee came to Phuket with another band in 2008. The income from singing in hotels and bars, she recalls, was sporadic at best.

But Phuket may have proved to be her blessing. Things were looking up when she met her Danish partner Soeren, and her new life came complete with a nice house with a pool and zippy little car.

“My life changed after meeting Soeren. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. He is very supportive of my singing.

The accusations that I am well-to-do were not exactly true. I may live a better lifestyle now but I don’t own all these material comforts. What’s more, my father still works as a construction worker.”

So she continues to sing in bars and nightclubs around the island and goes to adult education classes all the while nursing a desire to become a professional singer.

Her first real break came in April, when she passed the first round audition for 2012 Thailand’s Got Talent. She is now among 36 finalists who will battle it out for the semi-final later this month.

This time, she will sing Adele’s famous Rolling in the Deep. She is working very hard to get the pronunciation right and also trying to learn the meaning of the lyrics.

“I will need all the votes from the people of Phuket. I am nervous but deep down I so want to win. My dream is to become a respectable, professional singer. If I win I still want to buy that house for my parents.” The semi-final will be aired live on Sunday.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Best of9 hours ago

Phuket’s 5 most family-friendly resorts

Transport9 hours ago

Transport Company announces bus services are suspended until August 31

Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | 29 provinces now on curfew, booze ban in Phuket

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Insurgency12 hours ago

Volunteer ranger killed in grenade attack by suspected insurgents

Best of12 hours ago

Top 5 Spas in Koh Samui

Thailand12 hours ago

Hemp ice cream hits the Thai market

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Chon Buri13 hours ago

Chon Buri sets local order, restaurants in malls to only offer food for delivery

Thailand13 hours ago

Samut Prakan man dies in fire, possibly self-inflicted

Thailand14 hours ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand15 hours ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Pattaya15 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand15 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand17 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Phuket17 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8