PujanggaMalam.com – Ten Years On…

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I actually typed this entry way back in 2010 and left it in the Drafts section because I wanted to make a victory speech of sorts as a means to hit out at my haters and detractors who were undermining me for my entries, commentaries and analysis. This was initially meant to be an entry to silence and show them, “Hey, if the mainstream media has finally recognised my work for them to invite me to cover their events, then I must have been doing something right all along!!!” Also I did not realise I have reached this milestone till the recent Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza concert, which dawned on me that I have been blogging for the past ten years since February 2004. It has been a long journey, filled with ups and downs, joy, bliss, rejections, and for the first time at Dato Siti‘s concert, embarrassment and humiliation in the presence of my fellow media counterparts (more on that in my upcoming review of the concert).

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I used to and still feel small whenever I am invited to cover any entertainment events, for the fact that I am mostly a one-man team. There is nothing spectacular about my blog either, as I do not have the expertise to create a more vibrant design, nor add adverts or frilly scripts to make it more pleasing to the eye, being the tech idiot that I am. I also do not have the luxury of a fellow writer, photographer or videographer tagging along with me. My wife helps me out from time to time with recording video snippets but even then, I find it tedious and time consuming having to edit and upload them afterwards. Already editing photographs take up a lot of my personal time. Through entertainment blogging, I find joy in attending live shows, getting to know people in the industry as well as learn and understand why certain things are what they are, especially when the general public demands to know why certain things cannot be done or impossible to execute, for instance.

Another set of people I enjoy working with, the radio fraternity…

Through such learning experiences over the years, I developed a more empathic approach towards producing a balanced entry. I now try to be more understanding why certain things transpire and even when things go wrong, I am able to forgive and give benefit of doubt. I am very sure those who have followed this blog for the longest time would note how much I have mellowed down since when I first started out with all guns blazing whenever I see something to my chagrin. Bombing away and forming seething (and sometimes wild) observations, used to be the hallmark of my entries, but I still maintained decorum and without the need to use vulgarities to get my points across. I believe this was partly why I was finally received by Mediacorp Suria to cover their events beginning with Anugerah 2009. I am also honoured to be the first Malay blogger back then to have broken barriers and opened the doors for more to join in covering entertainment events.

Covering one of my close friends’ wedding (DJ KC & Fiza O) was one of the highlights of the past ten years…

This blog has indeed come a long, long way since I first started out using Blogspot as my host. Not to sound calculative with what I had done to increase the stature and reputation of this blog, but this domain of mine has witnessed evolution from its humble beginnings. From grainy photographs taken from my Nokia handphone, to buying a high-end DSLR camera, complete with extended zoom lens as well as a video camera, these were my commitment to the cause of providing quality pictures and video snippets of events and shows I attended. Oh and how can I forget how my domain’s logo and watermark changing over the years to give it a more professional outlook??? Previously it was just a simple word on photographs before I realised they were ugly and spoiling them. That’s when I made trials and errors on the watermark logo before finalising what you see today.

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I did not get to blog on bro Hafeez Glamour‘s “Demi Adriana” book launch due to my busy schedule back then, but I did share photos I took that day in my Facebook account…

You can regard whatever evolution or small changes I’ve done to improve or increase the reputation and quality of my blog, or even whatever promos or reviews I’ve done all these years, as my community service to provide useful information on our local Malay entertainment scene, introducing new acts, reacquaint others with established ones, providing differing views from mainstream media and providing a useful resource in general. From time to time I have people working in the scene thanking me for what I have done, assisting them with valuable information in the process, and it fills me with pride that I have gone in someway to help others, even though I felt like I have done nothing much. It has been a joy so far covering events, helping out with promos and fundings, sharing joyous moments of celebrity weddings, attending concerts and awards shows, book / product / album / single / music video launches, behind-the-scenes filming etc., even if they sometimes come with pain and heartache which most are unaware.

Sri Warisan, very forthcoming and easy to work with when I helped to promo their Bendahara: The Musical event…

Like all those who dare to tread on whatever paths they deem as right or answering the call of passion / challenge, I have faced numerous obstacles and heartbreaks, some of which have affected my relationship with friends I once regarded as siblings. Like anyone who has dared to venture in this line or in this industry, I too have had my fair share of doubters, haters, brickbats and detractors over the years, from comments left in my entries to smses on radio segments, in blog posts right down to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the now defunct Multiply site. People questioned my credibility and qualifications in pouring forth my thoughts across, not to mention those that have bitched about my flawed interest in the entertainment scene and how I was just trying to fit in and make a name for myself. Cos truth be told, I’m not cut out to be a singer / actor / host / radio presenter – possible career paths which at some point of time in my life I had tried to be involved or had some interest in, but did not work out. But what did not kill me only made me stronger.

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Covering the whole edition of Ratu Suria was an unforgettable experience for the fact that I had to defend the contestants alot in the face of online criticisms, bombarding them from their looks down to their level of intellect…

Call me arrogant or conceited for dedicating an entry reminiscing my past ten years in entertainment blogging, but I believe I have come a long way to proving that what I have been doing for the past decade have always been genuine, sincere, honest, patient, responsible, having self-belief and having loads of passion for the media / entertainment line – seven important traits you need to possess to survive in this harsh industry. The good people who have kindly invited me to cover their events, other than the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp (Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM), might have taken notice of those values and principles I so dearly hold on to, and for that I’m extremely thankful to them for acknowledging the work I had painstakingly put up all these while. Even though I am unable to attend all of these invites to launches or shows due to work and family commitments, I still appreciate the invitations and feel honoured that people do recognise my efforts.

I was honoured to have covered Rita Zahara‘s heritage cookbook launch back in January 2012

Unlike other famous entertainment bloggers across the Causeway, I’m not paid to do what I enjoy doing and even though I’m only doing it as a hobby during my recreational time, I try to give off my best, every single damn time. Most of the concerts I had reviewed so far in my domain, I paid with my hard-earned money and received no sponsorship whatsoever nor official accreditation from the respective organisers. Even when I try to get accreditation, most of the time, my requests were turned down or comes with certain limitations. Which is why till today I am a bit peeved with certain concert / show / event organisers, why they can invite foreign entertainment bloggers and even pay them to cover their events when a small fry like myself who is trying to help and promote new acts for free featured in their concerts, did not even receive any invite to cover and still had to pay to enter the concert venue.

And Fiza O‘s beauty product launch a month after, possibly the first Malay personality to lend her name to a beauty product…

There is something seriously wrong with the local Malay entertainment industry when foreign journalists / bloggers are being paid to cover events and shows, yet the local ones are not being considered or thought of. Also I find it perplexing till this day when I got to know some of our local acts had to sell tickets to one of their concerts to earn their rightful commissions, whereas the foreign acts featured together did not have to go through that form of treatment. While I appreciate the organisers wanting to instil a sense of business-minded tact in our local acts, it creates a form of quiet discontent, that there is a form of double standards being practised, especially when the foreign artistes were being paid and provided lodging without having to sell the concert tickets. And I do not blame them for feeling low and down as a result. Over the years, I’ve been like an Agony Aunt to some of the problems faced by our local acts, and from time to time, will highlight their plights in my entries.

Another momentous moment in 2012 was covering Siti Zahidah‘s album launch and showcase…

Another gripe I have with some local event organisers is their lack of gratitude. Back in 2012, I had planned to cover an event which showcased solely on upcoming local acts. It was a free concert held outside a community club. Out of respect, I just messaged the organisers to say I would like to cover their event and record video snippets of the performers. The plan was to introduce some of these acts on my domain, so people would be made aware of their talents. The reply I received was the event was not theirs per se, but the community club’s so they were unsure if they could allow me to record any video snippets. I was extremely fine with that till I came and saw so many in the audience recording away via their smartphones and iPads. In addition, I did not see any staff from the community club overseeing the whole event or anyone stopping these people from recording.

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Another event I covered but did not manage to blog about was the Te:RaSeh! Road Tour last May

Here I am trying to do a kind service for our local acts, yet my intentions got knocked back just because of a trivial reason and lack of responsibility. Suffice to say, I have refrained from attending any events or shows organised by this event organiser till today. I just cannot understand people turning down free promos online, when they have to fork out hundreds for a space on mainstream media. For the longest time, I have refrained from charging a fee to do promos and write-ups. Because I know our local industry does not pay as well as that across the Causeway with production houses and other organisations limited with fundings. I have been asked by people close to me, why have I not charged or earned anything out of what I enjoy doing??? There is simply no market for it over here, sad to say, or companies would be loathed to part their money for a simple promo.

Den Sabari and Huda Ali‘s wedding back in July 2010 was the first celebrity wedding I covered in this domain…

Speaking of promos, I’ve had over the years event /expo organisers taking my photographs on the Net without asking for my permission, even if my watermark is there for all to see. I will not go as far as saying they “stole” my photographs, even though the promotional photos used have clearly wiped them out, or just a cutout image of the artistes featured. I cannot blame the organisers fully, as from one classic example recently, I found out that the ones doing their promotional poster design was from an external department, a case of communication breakdown somewhere during their planning stages. Something they could have avoided doing when they agreed on what photos that could be used. But me being the ever-forgiving one, will always give others the benefit of doubt and accept people sometimes overlook these sort of things.

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Another one of those events I covered, but only shared in my Facebook account, Fiesta Suria 2013

If I want to be extremely anal about this, I could even bang on their doors and ask for a cut of their earnings, cos seriously expo events are a business windfall to some of these organisers and helping them promote via your photographs, you definitely feel that you deserve at least a little token of appreciation. For concerts and shows, it’s 50-50. One can earn a lot if your show is a sell-out, but what if only a handful turn out??? Even I won’t be so mean and damning as to want a certain cut from their earnings, cos I’ve heard some companies closing down after organising a big-scale sell-out concert in Singapore. Strange fact but true. Maybe I’m too nice or feel the legal route can be messy. But we are a small nation with an even smaller community. I don’t wish to kill or create ill feelings out of such matters, but sometimes people don’t realise that being the big fish, they forget simple ethics and courtesy. Sometimes I wonder, is it so difficult to seek permission or reward in kind???

A significant landmark for me was attending Hyrul Anuar‘s “Mata” music video launch back in September 2011, possibly the first of its kind in our local Malay entertainment scene…

I have to admit that I cannot be a journalist as I’m never able to meet datelines or type in a brief and concise manner. My entries are testament to how long-winded I can be. This entry is no different than the rest. I cringe and feel extremely uncomfortable when the term “celebrity blogger” is used on me, nor like to be called and considered one, cos to be one, you need to get thousands of hits daily and doing it on a full-time basis. My domain’s visitorship is not even 400 on most days. Being a celebrity blogger also means you have to share your private life or what you do on an almost daily basis. I am not prepared to be scrutinised, have my privacy exposed and subject my loved ones to be ridiculed or ogled at, especially since I have two young daughters. Some quarters have also labeled me as a “photographer”, but I am just comfortable being known as an “entertainment blogger”, thank you very much!!!

Thanks to Mini Monsters, I was able to cover the launch of their “Lagu-Lagu Kita CD”, aimed to preserve the heritage of songs we grew up with and to continue its legacy for the coming generations…

When this blog first started out in 2004, I did talk about my life just like any decent blogger out there. I think I also shared some of my photographs taken with famous personalities. I was also more vocal and critical when it came to reviewing and assessing shows / concerts I attended. But as my blog statistics rise over the years, I began to shy away from talking about my private life or putting up photos of myself, or with personalities, preferring instead to highlight the real stars themselves on this blog. With more eyes glued on this domain, building networks with people in the industry, gaining some form of respect through my brutal honesty, as well as being aware of the implications I might run into because of my often-harsh comments, I believe over the years, I have matured as a blogger and being more responsible and tactful with what I say or put across. I believe that nowadays I blog more with my head than my heart.

(Photograph courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I will forever be thankful to Mediacorp Suria for inviting me to keep goal for them in the tournament that honoured my late uncle, the legendary Dollah Kassim from 2010-2012

Which might explain why some people have wondered of late, how come I’ve gone soft and less scathing for the past three or four years. Perhaps fatherhood has changed me to be more understanding, to be more forgiving, to be more tolerant and of course to be more accepting of what is presented in front of me. I know I began as a gun-toting, trailblazing, devil-may-care writer (or typist), but it is only effective to a certain extent. People respect views when it comes from the heart, but at the same time, the head needs to balance the emotions so that one does not become too critical or damning. Anyway, my network has grown over the years. Any criticisms that I dish out henceforth, needs to be laced with a certain degree of empathy or at the very least, giving others that benefit of doubt. I don’t just look at things from my point of view but also from the points of those I am commenting on. This holistic approach might soften my style, but I am sure you know I will not mince my words when I experience the red mist.

Am glad to say I was physically there when Fiza O celebrated her 30th birthday and simultaneously announced she was getting married to her colleague, DJ KC

Being popular and mentioned in the same breath as artistes is not what I had intentionally set out to do. Unable to realise my dreams as a singer / actor / host / radio DJ were also not the main reasons why I became a blogger whose entries are focused on our local Malay entertainment scene, mostly on the musical side of it. I believe there is only so much we can rely on our print media as they have their own limitations and space constraints in terms of monthly / daily publication release, what they can talk about and how much they can feature. Personally, I would like to see more people doing what I’m doing, cos it would be nice to hear differing views and opinions on our local entertainment industry. It would also add more colour and vibrancy since our industry is slowly growing and expanding. I became a blogger who types on local Malay entertainment stuff because there was a dearth and general scarcity in people doing it. I hope more would be inspired to follow my path, given that blogging at one point of time, was quite in and spread across the generations.

Attending events like Sinaran Hati makes one appreciative of the efforts of the artistes who set aside time to give back to the community…

Hand on heart, I would rather remain in the background than be what my haters claimed me to be, and to quote one comment I stumbled upon years ago, that I am “feeling-feeling artis gitu“, probably due to the fact that I dressed to the nines on a number of occasions that I attended previous music award shows. I was merely respecting the occasion and since my weight was ballooning, I couldn’t fit into my old shirts and had to rely on my kind outfitters. If people have a big problem with that, then so be it. I might have uploaded some of my personal photographs in my Facebook account, which I apologise is only limited to those I know personally, but to share them in my blog is a bit too much to ask for. I do not understand where these people get the idea that I’m using the blogging medium as a means to prostitute myself and be famous. If people appreciate what I do as a yeoman service, then it gives me as much pleasure to provide them with news, promotions and reviews of events, concerts and shows which some of them did not manage to attend, or for those who did, to relive them all over again. What I wear to these events are very much secondary.

One of the events I enjoyed covering – the outdoor Festival Melayu Ada gigs, organised by Cokelat Events and Zaibaktian

This entry was typed not only to celebrate and reminisce this blog’s journey over the past ten years, but was typed both as a means of defiance to the brickbats as well as to give hope to aspiring writers / bloggers out there that if your intentions are genuine, sincere in your approach, passionate in what you do, honest in how you think, responsible in what you say, having faith in yourself and being patient in the face of adversity, one day your efforts will eventually be recognised, people will begin to respect your views, readers will learn to accept and trust you, knowing full well that you’re not merely running your mouth off for the sake of it. People will be able to discern whether you command respect or lack thereof. It took me five years to finally receive official credibility from a very distinguished national media, a long time frame that perhaps could break one’s resolve if your intentions are flawed or you are chasing after personal agendas, fame or glory.

If not for celebrity blogger, Diah Mastura, who could not make it to this event, I would not have been able to feature this exclusive showcase of Anuar Zain in my blog back in 2011

Even if I’m not invited again to cover future events after this entry is published and people think I’ve suddenly grown too big for my own shoes by harping about my personal achievements, I think I would be happy and assured to know that future Malay entertainment bloggers, if there are any others in the first place, could always hang on to the hope that anything is possible so long as they stick to the seven traits I stressed upon in the earlier paragraphs. I would love to have added an eighth trait which is humility. But I’m afraid some of you out there would gleefully point out that I am being hypocritical by talking about what I have achieved so far in this entry, which of course would undermine everything I’ve mentioned. However, I believe people who meet and get to know me personally would be better and wise judges of that. Cos words typed on screen have an eerie tendency of having double meanings or tones, which in turn can sometimes mislead into swaying one’s judgements of a person, since you do not know if he is being serious or joking.

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My very first album launch event I covered back in December 2006, Imran Ajmain‘s debut album “Dengan Secara Kebetulan“…

I’m more or less a grounded person, and I don’t believe in holding extravagant parties just to celebrate the anniversary of this blog or my existence in the scene. Heck I even forgot that I have reached this milestone till I was on the verge of covering Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s concert last weekend. That’s how much I feel that such celebrations are unnecessary. Even if I can afford to do that, I will still not do it. I think the money is better off spent somewhere or donate to charity / welfare organisations. Anyway, am just considered a “Kucing Kurap” in the scene, which is why sometimes when I cover events, I get restricted privileges or am limited with the things I can share or feature in this blog. I don’t expect nor want anyone to do any celebrations for me either, cos every entry for me is a celebration to those that I feature, the real stars themselves.

The very first media conference I attended – Suria Elektra – in February 2010

I know too well that over the years, I have ruffled a lot of feathers with my honest-to-goodness comments, be it in my blog entries or even comments made on radio segments. I am naturally a very opinionated person and a non-conformist. I can be tactless sometimes and too brutal, to the point I do not mince my words when I am really pissed off. Which is why, it is best that sometimes I cool down before typing my coming entry with a clear head and with a better choice of vocabulary I can use to describe what I feel. To those who have been at the brunt or wrong end of my lambasting words, insinuations, points of reference, examples and felt small, angered or even disappointed, I am taking this opportunity to apologise for words that might have hurt you. I am only human, and I try all the time to improve on how I address things as they come. I cherish every friendship and acquaintanceship I make along the way.

Covering Anugerah Planet Muzik, an event very much close to my heart, is something I look forward to annually…

To all who believed and have placed your trust in me for the past ten years, and continue to be loyal and silent readers of this domain, words cannot describe how thankful and appreciative I am to you. I will continue striving to provide good reviews and better quality photographs of events, concerts and shows, launches, celebrity weddings etc. I attend in time to come, and I will always be thankful to those I had worked with and continue to be sharing a good working relationship like the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp (Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM), Manggiz, Sri Warisan, Cokelat Events, Gridmedia Productions, ATeR | ReTA, Mini Monsters, WorkHeart, Gumbira, amongst many others I am unable to mention thanks to my ageing memory. Also, to all the lovely celebrity couples who have allowed me the privilege to cover your respective wedding events and shared the joyous moments with my readers. This blog is nothing without your kind support… 🙂

Festival Melayu Ada Celebrates Its First Anniversary…

Long-time readers of this domain would note the fact that I have been an ardent and loyal supporter of the Festival Melayu Ada (FMA) event when it was first conceived and had its successful run circa MarchMay 2009. Celebrating its first anniversary, the good people at Cokelat Events & Production have decided to resurrect the event in tribute to Hajjah Esah Cafe. The kind people of the cafe had been a strong advocate and supporter of the FMA series, allowing the artistes to use their outdoor premises for the shows to be realised. Now that the cafe is about to close down, the event not only will celebrate its first year of existence but also as a form of gratitude to the cafe.

Looking at the line-up of artistes on the poster, I see familiar names and regulars of past FMA events like my distant cousin Ard (Adha), Zaibaktian, Boy Raven, NSA (No Strings Attached), Tengku Nurlela, DianaSamsuri, Elmi Zulkarnain, Shafyre, Rafaat Haji Hamzah and Nizamulmuluk. One year on, they’ve added new acts to the list like AqmalDiorama and Kraton who are all nominated at the upcoming anugeraHitz.sg event. A pity though that I am unable to attend the event as I have prior engagements with the family. But I do hope that you guys would set your Saturday, and if possible Sunday as well, aside to support this event as the acts on show are of decent quality… 

Best of all, the whole event is FREE!!!

Festival Melayu Ada: Babak Terakhir Recap…

FMA

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I apologise to those who have been waiting for this entry to go up since the festival ended more than a week ago. I was feeling under the weather the past week and simply had no mood to post this up. You won’t feel the need to type an entry if you’re down with a bad case of influenza, plus coughing and a sore throat to add to the “gloss”. Anyway, since I had posted three entries in three days over the May Day long weekend, I thought the blog and especially its owner, needed a break for awhile.

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The host for the event – Shahrin Azhar

The Sunday before last, 3rd May 2009, saw the closing of the Festival Melayu Ada (FMA) quadrilogy series. Compared to FMA1 & FMA3 that I attended but did not manage to stay all the way till the end, this time I came just before the main acts began their sets and stayed all the way till the end, even though the next day was a working day and it kinda dragged on till close to 11:00pm.

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Tengku Adil relaxed before going on stage…

The reason why I did not attend the day event at the Malay Heritage Centre was because I was already feeling the after-effects of the previous Saturday‘s heat-sapping and energy-draining time spent at East Point Mall shopping centre during the Anugerah auditions. Yes, the unbearable heatwave does have its negative impact in that it completely drains you. So the day was spent resting at home with my family and typing out my thoughts on the auditions.

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When I reached the event venue, I was greeted by the security guards on duty asking if I had taken my temperature. Since I was not running a fever, I just said yes out of convenience. It was then that I noticed that they had a big cooler fan placed right smack in front of their faces whilst the audience sitting under the tentages nearby were busy fanning themselves even though there were fans around, but do not seem to be working as well as they would have liked to. Some kind of royal treatment these guards were getting, I thought.

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I spotted a few friends and joined them and started to make small talk whilst waiting for the show to start. It was here and during one of the conversations that this techie idiot found out that he could make use of the wifi services on his handphone and surf the web without having to worry about paying the extra charges one would associate with surfing via the handphone. The Heritage Centre is wired up for wifi usage in case you don’t already know. Thanks to bro Sulaiman for pointing that out to me. It was heartening to see the crowd that came, was the most they had throughout the whole series. All four sections of the tentages were filled to the brim and from where I was, I could spot Zoul (M. Nasir‘s younger brother) and renowned lyricist Zaidy Nandir sitting somewhere at the back, taking in the proceedings that unfolded.

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East Mode Sanskrit doing their thing…

The last slot of the FMA series (Suara III) was scheduled to be held at the Outdoor Stage of the Heritage Centre at 8:00pm before taking a short break out of respect for the Isyak prayers. Somehow the event only started proper right after the prayers. Looking at my watch and the line-up in store, I was sure the show would not end at 10:00pm as planned. For the record, the programme line-up that were listed to perform were East Mode Sanskrit, No Strings Attached, Konspirazy, Klutz, Tengku Adil, Rafaat Haji Hamzah, Ard (feat. Zakiah), Raven and Zaibaktian. The event was ably hosted by Shahrin Azhar, no stranger to our local entertainment industry.

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No Strings Attached giving us a punchier performance than the previous week…

I don’t think I need to go into detail as to each and every performance that went on that night, as I had already done so in my previous entries on the FMA series I attended in the past. Most of the sets were repeats of previous songs being performed before. The only difference was, with a bigger stage and supposedly better sound system, they could perform without an acoustic setting, which was the standard norm of the past three editions of the series. However the sound system was very much left to be desired as the singers’ vocals were constantly drowned by the music that accompanied them. This was very much evident if the performers had their fellow band members or sessionists accompanying them.

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In the case of Tengku Adil, he was an exception. He sang two songs which he did not perform before and they were “Aku Cinta Kamu” and “Mariam“, of which the latter would soon be heard on our local radio as his new single. The young man took the trouble to relate how the song came about and it all began with the annual The New Paper New Face contest back in 2000, where the winner, Mariam Daskalopoulou, set many hearts aflutter with her astounding beauty, yours truly included. I think it is quite a great tribute to someone you’ve had a crush on and to the guy’s credit, she is currently a part of his friendship circle. I was hoping for his sake, it would be a fairytale come true. But that’s another story to tell altogether.

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Rafaat Hamzah being interviewed by Shahrin before he began his poetry recital…

I quite enjoyed Rafaat Hamzah‘s poetry recital segment. This guy is simply amazing and an absolute genius. I just wondered why it took me so long to actually sit in one of his recital sessions, to listen to the ideas that poured forth his deep, intellectual mind. By the way, he recited his two compositions, that were taken off his book “Yang Bilang“. Correct me please if I err with this piece of information. Behind those cleverly crafted words, one could easily detect the dry wit and sly criticisms towards the respective subjects mentioned, and I’m sure those who listened intently would say, “Yes, he’s right!!!” to every line that was recited. It was made more enjoyable to watch when he was joined on stage by members of Konspirazy, Raven and Ijam from Malaysian group Flop Poppy accompanying him with the backing music.

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Zakiah & Ard performing “Taman Ungu”, a song composed by the talented former…

I was unsure whether it was due to technical glitches or miscommunication or even due to the fact that the show had over-run, but there were no performances by Klutz or Konspirazy as was stated in the programme line-up, which was a pity as I personally did not get enough of their respective performances the week before, in the third edition of the series. As for the finale segment, well, all I could say that it was better, no, best forgotten. I felt quite disappointed after all the waxing lyrical I made throughout the festival, only to be undone by the finale.

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Raven had the audience bobbing their heads to the beats of their sound…

For those of you who were not there, well, the finale segment was made up of the main acts singing one another’s hit single. However it was very much apparent that there were no prior practise before going on stage and they were either off-key, out-of-tune or have no idea how the song goes. I thought it was something well-worth recording but halfway through, I had half the mind to stop the recording as it was very frustrating to see and a very bad end to such a positive event. I just hope in future if they were to have this event again or have a similar segment, the vocalists would have all come prepared. After all the positive talk, unfortunately it had to end on a whimper.

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Zaibaktian performing none other than “Lelaki Baru“…

The finale, however, should not be used as the barometer to gauge the event as a whole. One has to expect mistakes to be made, since this is afterall a new project that was brave enough to have been executed, where few dared to venture. Overall, I should say that the festival has been a commendable success. For one, the idea to have such an event without first thinking of commercial returns, even in this bad economic climate, is in itself something that is worth applauding. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that the festival allows independent / new talents that are have not / have been heard on radio but not / seldom featured on television or print media, the platform to showcase their talents to the watching audience.

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Wan from the duo of Wan & Eddy performing during the finale… Quite a good practice for him as he qualified to be in the Top 50 of the current Anugerah competition…

Through such an interactive event, media and entertainment people would be able to converge and get to know one another, increase their social and working network as well as plan paths to collaborate in future projects / productions. Some might complain and say why make it a non-paying festival??? Most of these artistes are new in the industry, some barely have a proper direction and it is through this event that people would hopefully come to learn of their existence. Perhaps through time, wide media coverage, promotion through word-of-mouth would we then see charges being made and I would not mind paying to watch these new talents cos from what I have see thus far, they deserved to be paid to watch, every single one of them. Singapore is definitely not in dearth of good talent waiting to be unleashed on a mainstream level. The fact is, are we, the consumers, ready for them???

Festival Melayu Ada: Fasa Ke-3 Revisited…

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Some of you eagle-eyed visitors to my blog must be wondering why I typed the word “Revisited” instead of “Review” in the title header above. For one, I feel that the latter word brings with it a lot of seriousness into the piece that I would be typing. Very much informative as well as carrying weight in passing thoughts across. That’s how most reviews are anyway. But after witnessing the abovementioned event last Saturday 25th April 2009 at Taman Warisan Singapura (Malay Cultural Heritage of Singapore), all thoughts of being too serious and / or analytical go out of the window.

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Wan & Eddy opened the show with two songs…

But wait a minute. I can still hear some people asking what in the world is Festival Muzik Ada??? Yes, there are people who still do not know about this event, even though it has been promoted extensively in Facebook, as well as typed about in this domain last month in early March 2009. Heck, even a part-time writer for Berita Harian had written an article about it a couple of weekends ago. I saw a prominent figure in the local entertainment industry asking one of her contacts in Facebook what the event was all about. So yes, into the third instalment in its quadrilogy, there are still those who are unfamiliar with this event. Which is why before I move on, I feel the need to requote what was said in its official Facebook Group page.

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Tengku Nur Lela with her hit single “Cinta Saat Akhir“…

Melayu Ada is a festival that celebrates Malay music and poetry. It hopes to be a platform especially for budding and aspiring talents who wish to showcase their unreleased works and/or works in progress. The festival also acts as a sharing and interaction ground amongst musicians, writers and enthusiasts alike. A chill-out weekend that is not only filled with camaraderie, but also a worthwhile interchange of ideas and experiences across individuals, including established artistes.

A video recording I took of Tengku Nur Lela‘s performance…

This noble effort is the concerted brainchild of local artiste Zaibaktian and famous actor / poet / director Rafaat Hamzah and is produced by the joint efforts of LeftWriteCentre and COKELAT Events & Production. Its first and second editions were held at Hajjah Esah Cafe at Bussorah Street on 1st and 28th March 2009 respectively. The third instalment of this quadrilogy was supposed to have been held at the same place again. Somehow licensing issues with regards to holding it at its usual venue, threatened to put the event off at the last minute, only for the kind intervention of the Malay Heritage Centre to resurrect it again.

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Klutz was quite a favourite with the audience judging by their reactions…

When I first got to know of its initial “cancellation”, I immediately sms-ed Ard (he of Bhumiband fame) to ask what was going on. He said that the show was not cancelled, but was supposed to be held on the second floor of the cafe. Based on my experience in its inaugural edition, coming at exactly noon was not a feasible idea since the show would be stopped for awhile in respect of the Zuhur prayers. And since they only received last minute confirmation that the show would go on, I thought that it would definitely start around 2-ish. Upon reaching the cafe a few minutes past 2pm, I saw that nobody familiar was around, so I thought perhaps they were upstairs setting things up. So I took the liberty to walk along the mall just to kill time. That’s when I met Janz who was manning his family shop (Mona J Bridal & Boutique) and he told me that the show had shifted to the Malay Heritage Centre. Thanks bro for the information!!!

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Konspirazy performing their hit “Bahtera Cinta“… Below is a recording of their performance…

What was supposed to start at 12 in the afternoon, eventually began at 3:15pm. This was to be expected, what with all the mumbo-jumbo that went on, the hassling for a place and the shifting of equipment from the cafe to the new venue. Fortunately the distance between the original place and the Heritage Centre was less than 300 metres away but the walk still felt like a long one, no thanks to the heatwave that’s been hitting the country for the past week. On hindsight, I was thankful that I did not bring my younger daughter along as she would have felt uncomfortable in the heat. The elder one was at my parents’ place for the weekend. The wife who was supposed to accompany me, ended up staying home due to a bad bout of diarrhoea, which explained why we did not attend my old friend, Firdaus‘ birthday party for his daughter later on. Apologies Fir if you are reading this.

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Fyno‘s performing of “Munajat Kasih” tugged at the heartstrings due to its deep message from within…

In my humble opinion, Festival Melayu Ada: Fasa Ke-3 certainly was not a serious affair to start with. Ok before anyone starts to think that I’m about to slate and denounce the show, no, I’m actually telling it as it is. When I said it’s not “serious”, for those who were there, I’m sure you would agree with me that the event was set in a relaxed and chilled atmosphere, filled with lots of friendly banter between the audience and the various acts that performed on that day. Not even the sweltering heat could spoil the mood of those who came from all over the country. And being understanding and almost sympathetic to their earlier plight, I think as the minutes progressed, the delay in starting it proper was all but forgotten by those who came to watch the event.

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Rafaat Hamzah, one of the co-organisers in deep conversation with Sharil of No Strings Attached / X-Tech / Ossuary

Compared to the very first one that I watched last month, the series has most definitely grown in stature and the number of people who attended has grown in size. I reckoned that with the crowd that had gathered the other day, perhaps not doing it at Hajjah Esah Cafe was a total blessing in disguise. I just couldn’t see how the crowd which numbered between 150-200 people (a decent turnout given the hot weather and our community’s lack of interest / ignorance for independent acts), could possibly squeeze along the mall where the cafe is situated, without blocking the entrances to the other shops. For now, events such as these would be able to attract a decent crowd based on its good network and promotion via word-of-mouth as well as through the popularity of online portals like Facebook.

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Tengku Adil began his set by singing “Cinta Ini Membunuhku“, made famous by Indonesian group D’Masiv and below is a video recording of his own hit single “Itu Yang Pasti“…

Last Saturday‘s event was for me, another introduction to acts I have not gotten to acquaint myself with at the second edition of the series, which I did not attend due to prior commitments. Groups like Klutz and Konspirazy as well as Fyno of Cucu Dato’ Merah fame, were something new to the ears. Their singles “Kerna Kau Aku“,  “Bahtera Cinta” and “Munajat Kasih” respectively, have been rising up the local charts so it was good to finally see them live in action and they most definitely did not disappoint with their individual showmanship. I was also pleasantly surprised to know that my reservist mate, Fuzz, happens to be Klutz‘s lead singer. Singapore is indeed a small place to live in.

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Yunos Erksan tries to forget “Mariam“, to no avail…

As promised by the organisers, this event is a good “breeding ground” for new talents to showcase their wares. This was evident when we had the duo of Wan & Eddy opening the show and afterwards we had the likes of Zakiah and No Strings Attached. The latter are actually no strangers to the local music scene as two of their members, Fadz and Sharil, are from X-Tech, yes, those guys who gave excellent performances week in and out at last year’s Anugerah Band. I wonder if being in this group is a side project for them, but it was indeed nice to see them performing melancholic songs for a change as opposed to the high-octane performances we were used to seeing in last year’s reality TV series. Quite surreal to see Fadz singing without his trademark style of jumping around and high screeches, but I enjoyed their performance all the same.

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No Strings Attached performing “Indah“…

If in the first edition, we had a guitar-playing female singer in Diana Nightingale (who now reminds me of Malaysia‘s Yuna in terms of image), this time round we had a newbie Zakiah taking over the mantle. For those of you who would like to get acquainted with her, you can go to YouTube and view Tengku Nur Lela‘s music video “Cinta Saat Akhir“, where she is the model in the clip. Zakiah has a distinct style different from Diana and her voice is slightly raspy. While I appreciate her performance, somehow I felt she kinda spoilt it by constantly speaking in English when it was evident who her audience were. It would have been ok had there been just the younger generation who speak and understand the language but there were also some of those from the older generation amongst the crowd.

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Zakiah is one talent to look out for in the near future

Being new and distinctively shy, she is most definitely forgiven and she would do well to improve on the interaction and communication bit. Minimising the slang could also be another option, as we all know how turned off it could be to some people, given that our community is extremely critical of people speaking with a Caucasian twang, no matter if it’s American, British or Australian. To them, it’s like putting up a false front. I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about. Hope Zakiah does not take offence with what I have to say and use my words to improve on her future performances. She has the potential with good looks and talent to boot. All she needs to do is gain her confidence performing on a bigger stage and smoothen all the other rough edges.

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Elmi reciting his poetry with Yunos accompanying him…

The event was not all about singing acts though. Two thirds into the show and during Yunos Erksan‘s set, he invited local poet Elmi Zulkarnain to recite his poetry and a beautiful one it is I must say. Entitled “Anak Melayu Teguh Berdiri“, it highlighted the positive aspects of our community and repelled the negative characteristics that have become a stereotype to us. Just listening to it increased the burning passion and pride one feels as a Singaporean Malay, no matter what our ethnic roots are. It helped that Elmi read it with such gusto, till the mood was infectious enough for those who watched, to share his desire and cheered out loud once he was done. It felt like watching a very rousing political rally somehow, minus the politics and character assassinations.

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Ard broke into an impromptu opening which showcased the creativity he possesses in him…

Ard singing his first single to hit the airwaves, “Aku Akan Hilang“…

The Festival Melayu Ada series has so far been a success from the two events that I attended. Not only has it forged a spirit of camaraderie and fellowship amongst the local musicians taking part, it has also created a sense of belonging amongst the regular audience who came to brave the rain and endured the heat from the sun rays. The event not only allowed new acts to shine and start from humble beginnings, it also gave some of them the platform to promote their hard work in the form of singles, EPs and full albums. A pity I did not manage to stay till the end on Saturday as I was forced to rush off home, but I believe those who stayed still could not get enough of it. Apologies for not saying my goodbyes to everyone there.

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Zaibaktian with a new song entitled “Keagunganmu“…

The Festival Melayu Ada series will come to a closure this coming Sunday 3rd May 2009, and will be part of the Malay Arts Festival programme to be held at the Malay Heritage Centre, from 6pm onwards. The Malay Arts Festival however will be from 1-3 May 2009 from 11:00am-10:00pm. More details can be found by clicking here. This is your final opportunity to enjoy good, clean entertainment for free and see for yourself the strong spirit and bond that has been forged amongst artistes and supporters, not to mention the great music that our talented artistes are able to compose for your ears to savour. Like the term that is so often used and has become some sort of motto during the event, it is definitely “BAIK SEKALI!!!“. I leave you now with  the poem written and recited by Elmi Zulkarnain entitled “Anak Melayu Teguh Berdiri“…

Video courtesy of Elmi Zulkarnain

Anak Melayu Teguh Berdiri

Ku Intip-intip, ku belek-belek
Inilah bicara bitara seorang seniman
Intipati untuk dicerna pendengar budiman

Kecamuk rasa
Beku suara
Aku kais sejarah bangsa
Zaman Sultan mabuk kuasa
Hingga zaman dijajah sengsara
Aku tinta apa yang patut dikata
Terus mencoret apa yang nyata

Tentang Melayu pantang menyerah
Tentang Melayu yang enggan kalah

Aku mampu ke tebingan yang terjal
Jangan berani kau panggil aku bebal
Aku bukan bangsa yang gagal
Aku Melayu, anak bangsa yang cekal

Aku, aku :

Orang laut, orang Kallang, orang Seletar, orang Selat
Orang Gelam.

Aku Jawa, Boyan, Bugis, Minangkabau, Banjar dan Batak.

Aku,
orang Melayu Singapura

Anak jati pulau ini …

Tikamlah aku dengan kata-katamu
Cincanglah aku dengan pandangmu
Bencilah aku sebenci hatimu

Aku akan tetap teguh berdiri
Dari lampauku yang menjerut
Dari lautan yang hitam berkalut
Dengan semangat kental tiada lagi rapuh

Aku bukan insan yang merintih
Bukan manusia yang menagih
Dahagakan belas yang menampar pedih

Ibarat purnama & sang mentari
Seperti adanya pasang surut lautan Ilahi
Seperti harapan yang menggunung tinggi

Akan tetap aku teguh berdiri !!!

Jangan berani engkau mencerca aku dalam sejarah
Jangan sesekali memijak namaku hingga tenggelam dimamah tanah
Kerana iras semangat pahlawan, aku akan terus teguh berdiri

Seperti Adnan di Bukit Chandu
Dan satria-satria keagungan bumi Melayu

Wartakan pada semua,
Wartakan pada dunia,

Aku, aku Anak Melayu!!!

– hasil nukilan Elmi Zulkarnain…

 

Festival Melayu Ada: Zaibaktian & Friends…

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I took a break from typing out my previous entry on Pesta Perdana 10 to attend this event, albeit for about two hours or so last Sunday, 1st March 2009, at Bussorah Street. I had intended to come to support my relative, Ard (he of Bhumiband fame), who was one of the slated performers. For the uninitiated, and this I quote from the information given through its event promotion in Facebook, “Melayu Ada is a festival that celebrates Malay music and poetry. It hopes to be a platform especially for budding and aspiring talents who wish to showcase their unreleased works and/or works in progress. The festival also acts as a sharing and interaction ground amongst musicians, writers and enthusiasts alike. A chill-out Sunday that is not only filled with camaraderie, but also a worthwhile interchange of ideas and experiences across individuals, including established artistes. Festival Melayu Ada: Zaibaktian & Friends on 1st of March is a free music showcase by aspiring upcoming/established independent music acts in Singapore‘s Malay music industry.

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Tengku Nur Lela doing her sound check…

In truth, I had only planned to come and watch Ard in action as well as buy his EP album which has just been released, that too if the timing of his performance coincided with my free time on Sunday. Sundays are afterall always spent with family or attending weddings / functions followed by my dose of football in the evening along with my neighbourhood friends. Knowing from Ard‘s Facebook status that his alloted time of performance was supposed to be at 12:10pm, I thought it was just the perfect time for me to see him perform since the last time I saw him in action was when he performed with BhumiBand. I had afterall made plans with the wife to bring the family to visit my parents in the evening prior to football.

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Zaibaktian doing his own sound check…

I arrived at Bussorah Street at around 12:10pm, just right for me to watch Ard perform. Or so I thought. When I reached the venue, Hajjah Esah Cafe, they were still doing sound checks with Tengku Nur Lela, an up-and-coming singer under the tutelage of Yazri of Merah fame, followed by Zaibaktian himself. I took some positives out of it in that it was an opportunity to see the other acts, instead of seeing the negativity that the show which was slated to start at 11am, only started one and a half hours later. And so, the show kicked off at 12:30pm with Tengku Nur Lela singing Rossa‘s first hit single “Tegar” and a single she has recorded waiting to be heard on local radio entitled “Cinta Saat Akhir“. For a newbie, I thought she was quite cool and even though my ears detected her single has some similarities to Saida‘s “Sedalamnya Cinta“, the vocal execution made me fall in love with the song and can’t wait to hear it on radio. I think it should be out soon within the next few weeks.

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Zaibaktian, the host, interviewing Tengku Nur Lela

Next up was Hirman Rasid. From what I found out about him on Wikipedia, “Hirman Rasid or better known as Hirman is a 26 year old Singaporean indie-folk singer. Other than singing or composing, Hirman is active in poetry and is recognized as a rare talent in this day and age. Hirman has stated a few inspirations leading up to his compositions such as Radiohead, Coldplay and many British indie bands. A few of Hirman‘s favourite artistes are Sarah Bareilles, Brett Anderson, Kasabian, Coldplay, Radiohead. Hirman sports a bald-head and wears specs. He is currently working at Bread n Butter located at Wisma Atria. Hirman lives in the north-eastern side of Singapore (Sengkang).” Ahhh… My fellow kampung boy… Interesting… Even more interesting was his performance because it really reminded me of watching Art Fazil or even Mohd Khair Mohd Yassin, both of Rausyanfikir fame. The beauty of his performance lies in the lyrics that he sang. And poetry being made into music is meant to challenge your mind into deciphering what it means. This guy addresses spirituality in a very relaxed manner without being preachy. He is in the process of completing an album in the folk genre.

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This is Hirman performing his first song “Landasan“…

By then I came to realise that each performer was given two to three songs to perform. Which I think was an extremely good enough introduction to their abilities, even if some of them were singing cover songs. I think if I was 10 years younger, I would have jumped at the chance of performing as well since this showcase is opened to talents who want their voices to be heard, but it’s ok, I’m happy just being a blogger and watching people with much refined singing ability than I do, strut their stuff. The days of yearning to perform on the big stage is somehow gone and will never happen again since my wedding performance. Hirman then made way for another lady, going by the stage name “Diana Nightingale“. I’ve seen Diana around when I was studying in Temasek Polytechnic more than a decade ago, but back then I think she was one of the last persons I could imagine performing since she did not come across as someone who would be interested in performing on the big stage. But looks can be deceiving and this lady can sure sing and play the guitar as well. Singing three songs (the last being Republik‘s “Hanya Ingin Kau Tahu“), she gave a good account of herself, charting some life experiences along the way through the first two songs that she sang; her influence in music as well as sharing a woman’s emotions. I think ladies out there can somehow get acquainted to her songs as she is quite the songwriter who pens songs based on how women out there feel.

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Diana singing Republik‘s “Hanya Ingin Kau Tahu“…

When Diana‘s slot ended at about 1:10pm, there was a break in respect of Zuhur which was due at 1:19pm. I dunno if the decision to have a break was because of the event venue’s close proximity to the Sultan Mosque and since the call for prayer could be heard from where we were, but I think for the benefit of doubt, I have to take my hat off to the organisers for respecting the prayer timing and at the same time, for encouraging those watching to observe their responsibilities during the break. I think this is sorely lacking in our community nowadays when it comes to organising entertainment-slanted programmes. Unless the show is organised by mosques or Muslim organisations, sometimes there are no breaks in respect of prayer timings or even providing a place to observe our responsibilities. I’m sure we all want the best of both worlds, here and the HereAfter, and together we should encourage one another to embrace both. I was extremely impressed with this, even if it meant I had to wait a little longer to watch Ard.

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Yunos Erksan with his Mariam trilogy…

The show resumed five minutes before 2pm with Yunos Erksan taking centrestage with a trilogy of songs dedicated to someone named Mariam. This guy’s voice actually made my hair stood. It was loud, rich and what some might term as “creamy”. It had all the right essence of a rockstar in the making, even if his songs came across as ballads. He could switch from Malay to English with ease cos when he did a short sound check in English prior to performing, you cannot detect any Malay accent in him. Listening to him sing felt as though I was listening to a real professional who’s been around for ages. God knows how a talent like this is still stuck underground when he should already be established by now. Hopefully this particular gig would open doors for him, not only him but the others who needed it to kickstart their respective careers in this small industry of ours.

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Ard being interviewed by Zaibaktian…

Ard came on shortly afterwards. I noticed that by the time Ard performed, the crowd had swelled and were quite into his performance. Local bands Raven and Cucu Dato’ Merah were also seen arriving around the same time from opposite directions. Ard sang three songs, “Asik-Asik“, “Hanya Kamu” and “Aku Akan Hilang“. The latter two songs have been included in  his newly released single album entitled “Aku, Dia & Gitar“. There’s nothing much to comment about Ard‘s singing except that watching him sing is akin to watching those black singers who sing jazzy tunes, along with facial expressions. I thought “Hanya Kamu” would have been a more appropriate song to introduce to the radio listeners than “Aku Akan Hilang” because personally I felt that it had a more spiritual message to it to go along with its melodious tune, but I’m sure he has a certain strategy in going about introducing his songs to listeners. Really loved his performance, he really has a distinct showmanship and it helps that he has been around for some time to know how to whip up the crowd’s interest.

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Ard performing “Hanya Kamu“…

By the time Ard‘s slot ended at about 2.30pm, I could not stay on as I had promised in my Facebook status that my Pesta Perdana 10 review would be up by 4pm and I still had some editing to do before I could post it up. Though I had planned on staying to watch Tengku Adil, I had to take my leave and hope that some day I could catch him in action. Fortunately clips of his performances that day could be found on YouTube, so I guess that’s quite a consolation. Before I left, I managed to get hold of Ard‘s EP album, which to me should not be sold at $6 but at least $10 since the album has about six songs in it and good ones I must say. Really, I don’t mind paying a bit more for quality. That’s the least I could do to support local talents. Even though we’re related, I told him before I do not want any complimentary copies, I want to buy it and pay for his hard work in producing the album. I think it’s high time we start paying for the hard work of our local talents, rather than wait for it to be uploaded and for us to download for free.

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Ard ending his performance with “Aku Akan Hilang“…

Even though I did not stay on to watch Fyno (of Cucu Dato’ Merah fame), Raven, Samsuri, Rowell Sakti and Zaibaktian himself, I believe the event itself was a resounding success. This was quite evident by the presence of several local artistes like Fauzie Laily and Wahyu Rahman amongst others.  Not even the heavy downpour shortly after I left could dampen the spirits of those in attendance, as seen by their finale video, which Zaibaktian had uploaded in his Facebook profile. This event promised and delivered beyond expectations, even if there was no stage and they had to make do with a humble venue. But I have great belief that subsequent events would be even greater than this. A pity that the slated emcee for the event, Ashmie (of Yazid Pakai Lampin fame) was not able to make it at the last moment as he was involved in an accident whilst on the way to the event venue. Here’s wishing Ashmie a speedy recovery!!!

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Tengku Adil performing “Jauh“…

Did I just say subsequent events in the last paragraph??? Yes, Zaibaktian who took over emcee duties that day had announced that last Sunday‘s event was the first of a quadrilogy and the next event is slated for 29th March 2009. The event venue will be confirmed soon and God willing if there is nothing on on that day, I would be lending my support. For those of you who are interested to perform in upcoming Festival Melayu Ada events, please feel free to contact Zaibaktian through Facebook or his email address: zaibaktian@gmail.com. All types of performers are very much welcomed, whether you are established or not. This would be a great platform for you to showcase your abilities. Who knows, for those of you who need an avenue to be heard, this could be the one for you. Congratulations to all who made it happened that day. You definitely showed that we do have great talents waiting to be tapped. Hope you guys enjoy this rousing finale by the artistes who performed on that day, an encore of Zaibaktian‘s “Lelaki Baru“… 

Video courtesy of Zaibaktian… Thanks bro…!!!