Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza On Tour Promo…

We are exactly four weeks away from one of the most-awaited concerts of 2019! It’s also exactly 5 years since Malaysia‘s number one singer, Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza, held her last solo concert here in Singapore at The Star Vista Theatre, a sell-out event organised by Hype Records and featured our local acts, Farisha Ishak and Taufik Batisah. This time, Shiraz Projects, the same concert organisers of the successful Ruffedge 20th Anniversary Concert held in October last year at Zepp @ Big Box, returns with the concert many have been waiting for, ever since Dato’ Sri took almost a year off to savour the sweetness of motherhood for the very first time. I remember during last year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik, rumours of her having another solo concert was in the pipeline and it was more or less confirmed when Shiraz Projects flashed a teaser video indicating “SNP” (Siti Nurhaliza Productions) as one of their upcoming projects for 2019, just before the Ruffedge concert began. This time round, Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza will perform at Singapore Expo Hall 3 on Saturday, 2nd March 2019 at 8:30pm.

Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza performing “Anta Permana” at last year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik

This self-titled tour “DATO’ SRI SITI NURHALIZA ON TOUR, promises to be a musical journey that will take you down memory lane, with hit after hit, rearranged to make your heart skip a beat, reminisce the good old days of youth and get you on your feet. Each segment of the concert will feature the best of the best – an Ethnic segment, Ballads, Chart Toppers and an Unplugged segment; all musically produced and rearranged by music extraordinaire, Aubrey Suwito, with an All-Star band. Aubrey has personally hand picked this star-studded group of musicians, some hailing all the way from New York City as well as the crème de la crème of Malaysian musicians who have been with Dato’ Sri since the start of her career. Truly this upcoming concert is a celebration of more than twenty years of hits. An enthralling night of savouring the enchanting voice, the music, and the legend on her biggest tour yet in her illustrious singing career spanning almost twenty-five years.

I was there to witness firsthand when the #QasidahChallenge was started by Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza and Khai Bahar kicking the challenge off, watched by talented Malaysian singer-cum-beatboxer Raja Nur Syahiran

The concert will also be featuring the incomparable and award-winning Indonesian singer-songwriter, Tulus. The blend of these two amazing voices will surely make the night even more magical. Tulus will be the guest singer for the tour, performing his hit songs which should not be missed by any of his diehard fans. Who knows, you might probably be first-time witnesses to a new hit duet, before its official release. Speaking of releases, a special feature of this tour, a movie-cum-documentary will be released on the silver screens titled They Call Me SitiOne woman, two decades of music, ten thousand miles”. This upcoming release will take you behind-the-scenes of Malaysia’s Queen of Pop music’s biggest tour yet. From juggling between nursing her first born child to performing at prestigious and iconic venues. Watch how this mogul preserves her legacy for more than two decades.

There are special Meet-&-Greet packages available for Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza‘s die-hard fans. The Meet-&-Greet ticket gives you a chance to get up-close and personal with Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza the day after her concert. The package includes a concert ticket, a free t-shirt, CD and refreshments at the Meet-&-Greet session. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to rub shoulders with Malaysia‘s most iconic singer at this private event. Fans can also purchase special limited edition merchandise at the concert venue. “DATO’ SRI SITI NURHALIZA ON TOUR, is an ongoing tour with confirmed venues in Jakarta (21st February 2019), Singapore (2nd March 2019) and Malaysia (16 March 2019), with the much-celebrated Royal Albert Hall in London, another to be confirmed in the near future, a return to the venue where she held two successful concert showcases back in 2005. Tickets for the concert is available on sale at www.mytickets.asia since 19 January 2019. For further information, please visit www.shirazprojects.com or call +6590604439.

Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza On Tour Ticketing Details

Ticket price:    SGD 425 (Meet & Greet), SGD175 (diamond), SGD145 (Platinum), SGD95 (Gold), SGD65 (Silver)

Tickets:            www.myticket.asia

Ticket Hotline: +65 31651506

Info Hotline:    +65 90604439

Website:          www.shirazprojects.com

Instagram:       shirazproject.sg

Facebook:        Shirazprojects

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Review

apm2014poster(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division)

It’s been three weeks since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 (APM2014) was held at Suntec City Convention Centre on 17 October 2014, but the memories of the prestigious awards night are still fresh in my mind. I cannot guarantee if I will blog as lengthily as what everyone has been used to reading when it comes to my annual APM reviews, simply because on the surface, I doubt I have much to dissect and analyse this time round. But you’ll never know, since I have this tendency to blabber, make sidenotes and references that would eventually veer me off-course. But that’s the beauty of this blog, other than the many photographs that everyone loves to come in and see. I just wish I can make this a full-time career, but is there a proper industry here in Singapore to begin with??? 🙂

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The right choice for the opening performance, Taufik Batisah with his current hit “#Awakkatmane“…

In years past, I would normally take the trouble and effort to read the reactions of the general audience and see their comments on social media. Not this year, as I did not wish to concern myself with the “Macam Faham” keyboard warriors. These people will always be there on social media, ever ready whenever there is an event on television, quick to comment on things that are trivial and out of their understanding, but still feel the need and urge to comment when they know nuts what is going on behind-the-scenes or understanding reasons behind certain shortcomings. But I believe this year’s event had few controversial incidents (more on that!!!) or arguable award recipients as in previous years. Congratulations to the organisers as APM2014 was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide that night!!!

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Yacko, Joe Flizzow and Sheikh Haikel continued where Taufik left off…

I had extremely good vibes about APM2014 days before the event, for the sole reason, this was (and if my memory still serves me well), the first in its thirteen editions, that it witnessed a sell-out crowd. Between 2001-2005 I remembered APM being close to a full house, but there were still empty pockets here and there. I attributed the presence of legendary Malaysian rock group WINGS and seeing Ariel of NOAH after his well-documented legal struggles, as the two main factors that pulled in the audience this year. In the past, we might have had household names like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Taufik Batisah to help entice the crowd to attend, but still their presence were not enough, even if they continue to receive the biggest cheers every time they appear on stage. This time, I’m sure it felt like a major coup to have two of the biggest bands in the regional Nusantara music scene to grace the APM stage. This was the first time WINGS made an appearance at the awards show and the first time Ariel appeared since Peterpan performed at APM2005.

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Hosts for the night – Dyn Norahim, Sarah Sechan and Nabil Ahmad

But the sell-out audience was also a major factor in me stopping short of saying this was the best APM in years. Yes the event itself, in terms of performances and overall production, is probably up there amongst the best and most enjoyable ones in its thirteen years of existence, but the atmosphere was close to dead from my humble observations. Other than Taufik Batisah‘s opening performance or whenever he appeared onstage either to receive his three awards or presented with Najwa Mahiaddin, the only times the crowd came alive were when Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, NOAH and WINGS made appearances. The atmosphere during the rest of the other performances or award presentations felt like a morgue, or at the very least, just courtesy applause heard. At times, one could just hear a pin drop. That was how bad the atmosphere was and I had to turn around a couple of times to see whether it was really a sell-out audience or not.

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A common feature of APM – Performances by artistes from the three countries together onstage – Maria Calista, Mafarikha Akhir and Aisyah Aziz

I expected a bit more vigour and pride from the audience, when our local artistes who were nominated in the regional categories, had their names announced as the nominees. Or when the likes of Aisyah Aziz, Sufie Rashid, Sezairi and Sheikh Haikel performed. But it was just dead, with little to no positive reaction, save perhaps when Sufie Rashid won his award for Lagu Terbaik Singapura (Best Singapore Song). I wondered aloud that night, aren’t we proud to see our own acts stand toe to toe with the region’s best??? I was seething throughout the night at the thought and somehow when I’m typing this and recalling again, I feel that sense of anger returning. Last year, we had a party atmosphere with fans bringing drums and percussions, even when it was not a full house. It was just a big pity the same fans were not around to hype the audience. Or perhaps told not to bring their instruments into the event venue. But even if they were not allowed to, I’m sure they would still be in full voice.

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The cool cat, Sezairi, performed his nominated single “Sayang“…

This year, there was a change in hosts from Singapore and Malaysia. Dyn Norahim (and not Ibrahim. Astro & MeleTOP please take note!!!) from Warna 94.2FM and Ahmad Nabil Ahmad, the winner of the second season of Malaysia‘s Raja Lawak reality competition took over the microphone duties alongside APM veteran Sarah Sechan. Indeed this was Dyn Norahim‘s first big break hosting an event of this magnitude, where the region’s eyes were on him. He admitted to having a lot of jitters before the show, in awe of his two colleagues whom he felt were more prolific in their crafts as hosts and extremely quick on the draw to butt in when he fluffed his lines during rehearsals. But I told him not to be overawed by the occasion and he would do just fine. Most importantly, I reminded him not to go overboard with some of his jokes, and overall I think he did extremely well without trying too hard.

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Sultry Najwa Mahiaddin serenaded the audience with “Impian Terindah“…

While I’ve heard of many negative feedbacks about Dyn Norahim‘s performance that night, mostly from the online brickbats, I thought he did not do much wrong for a newbie on the APM stage. Local radio listeners would have been disappointed not to have witnessed Dyn‘s alter-egos Abang J and Mr. Wong, or that he might not have matched Nabil‘s wacky personality, but there needed to be a certain balance with all three hosts complementing one another, rather than hogging or competing for the limelight. Dyn is outgoing and comical in his own way and did not need to match Nabil pound for pound in the wacky stakes. Nabil‘s butting in at several award presentations and chiming in with wisecracks when others were presenting, were either welcomed or a source of irritation, depending on how you tolerate his style. Just that I was a bit uncomfortable when he made a joke about plane crashes in this very same year his own country suffered two tragedies of that nature. I was expecting some backlash from his countrymen about it, but thankfully I’ve heard none of it till today.

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Loved Tulus‘ humble speech when he won his award for Artis Baru Terbaik (Lelaki) / Best New Male Artiste

Speaking of backlash and the earlier mention of controversies that arose from this year’s edition, poor Dzar Ismail was targeted by the Indonesians on Twitter for unwittingly using the term “Indon” to refer to the “Indonesians” when he presented with Hanis Zalikha. For those who do not know, the term “Indon” is derogatory to the Indonesians. It is either a racial slur or a negative connotation to describe them. But I know Dzar Ismail did not mean it the way the Indonesians had slagged him off for it. For one, the term is used here in Singapore as a shortened name for Indonesia / Indonesians. Most, if not all of us, even Malaysians, use it as a shortened word of convenience, and not to degrade or look down at our neighbours. Even the Indonesians living here in Singapore refer to themselves as “Indon“, so I was a bit surprised at the amount of abuse being directed towards Dzar Ismail. Our own Berita Harian congratulated their new President by using the same term as their front page headlines recently. So really, it’s a matter of cultural misunderstanding. It would be nice however, to take note, not to use it during such events where we are interacting with Indonesian audience, out of basic respect and courtesy. It’s like the N-word where it is ok for the Negros and blacks to use it amongst themselves, but not us.

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Dato’ Rossa and Taufik Batisah‘s onstage chemistry was intense and passionate to say the least…

I don’t think there are any major grievances pertaining to all the award winners. Previously, our regional neighbours were up in arms when any Singaporean artistes were to walk away with the popular regional award categories, but the winners this year (“Dia Dia Dia” – Fatin Shidqia Lubis and NOAH) somehow could have been justified in their eyes. I might not hear or perhaps been oblivious if there are any objections towards Taufik Batisah winning the Ikon Media Sosial (Social Media Icon) award. This is a guy who has timed his return to perfection and launched his latest album at the right moment, a month before APM2014. With his viral videos with the hashtag “#awakkatmane” making its rounds since Ramadhan and resulting in countless number of parodies being made, it was a no brainer. Rightly so that such an award conferred to him reflected his influence. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Taufik on getting more than a million views on YouTube for his latest music video “#Awakkatmane” within three weeks of uploading it, and also for the hashtag to be the top trending topic on YouTube Malaysia.

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One of the top draws of the night, Ariel and NOAH

Such popularity comes with the caveat of having haters as well. You either like the “#Awakkatmane” song, or you do not. Personally I love it, in fact I need to listen to it daily as a form of perk-me-up. However, linguistic “Nazis” like myself however have a little grouse with regards to its title, where “mana” is spelt as “mane“. Releasing it in the middle of our national Malay Language Month, where speaking good Malay is encouraged, also felt a little odd but I know for one that Taufik meant no disrespect whatsoever. By adding that hashtag at the beginning of the title meant, he probably was taking a dig at those who love to misspell or spell out of convenience in social media or online messaging. Nonetheless, I am so hoping and wishing that with this new album launch, his viral clips and music video as well as his collaboration with the likes of Altimet in his new album and two of his songs being chosen as the soundtracks for drama series shown in Malaysia, it will finally be the big break that has eluded him all these years. Ten years in the scene, it is high time he becomes a household name across our shores. Sidenote, the voice of the lady in that hit song does not belong to Fiza O. Wonder how some people came to such a conclusion when the voice tones of both ladies are different.

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Odd to see Judika attending APM without his wife Duma Riris, but congratulations to them on the birth of their firstborn, Cleo Deora Boru Sihotang

I was and still am elated over the awards won by Awi Rafael for his collaboration with Altimet for “Kalau Aku Kaya” (Kolaborasi TerbaikArtis / Best Artiste Collaboration), as well as those won by Aisyah Aziz for “Mimpi” (Kolaborasi TerbaikLagu / Best Song Collaboration) and Sufie Rashid for “Tiada Pengganti” (Lagu Terbaik SingapuraBest Singapore Song). I did say last year that I would not at all be surprised if “Kalau Aku Kaya” were to be nominated in at least the Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik (Best Duo / Group) or Kolaborasi Terbaik (Best Collaboration) categories. I stopped short of saying the song or collaboration would win outright last year, for the fact that I had yet to listen to newer songs from other artistes, but if I had the choice to award them for it, I would have given it to them last year. However, my hunch came true this time and I thought it was a satisfying reward earned by two artistes whom I have so much respect for in the regional music scene.

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One of my favourite photos of the night – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza belting “Jaga Dia Untukku“…

If there is an award for “Most Improved Performer” over the past year, I would give it to Sufie Rashid in a heartbeat. He has grown so much since his first forays in the scene, joining the various reality talent competitions on television, only to falter in the earlier stages. He was one of the guest performers during last year’s APM2013 Media Conference, along with Yaya Hamid, but he did not impress me at all that day. He was a bag of nerves and had pitching issues when he sang. In short, I was cringing when I watched him. I remembered Aura Shai asking me to upload a full video of his performance that day but I chose not to, cos I did not want viewers to slate him or subject him to abuse from online brickbats. But I know and can see that he has taken great pains to improve himself over the past year. Most importantly, he has gained so much confidence onstage thanks to his involvement in the recent SG Mania competition on Mediacorp Suria.

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Judika and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza teased a possible collaboration when they presented at last year’s APM and called themselves “Ju-Si“. This year it became a reality when they sang “Apakah Ini Cinta“…

SG Mania, I felt, was the making of Sufie Rashid. Where once he had confidence issues, he is now a fearless performer onstage. His performance during APM2014 made my hairs stood and I was happy for him that he was not overawed when paired with the likes of Hazama and Cakra Khan. He told me afterwards how he was worried that he might have upstaged the other two when he went for the high notes. I for one, was afraid his voice would crack as a result, but he pulled it off much to the audience’s approval, judging by their whoops and cheers. Credits also go out to members of The SallysShafiq Iskandar, Izwan Khuzair and Rusdi Badri for composing “Tiada Pengganti“. This is an under-rated local band that has produced quite a number of radio-friendly hits. But my personal favourite from their collection of songs till this day is still “Gadis Marmalade“. Like my blog, the band recently celebrated their tenth year of existence this year.

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The fearless performer, Sufie Rashid

I enjoyed all the performances that night from the start right till the end. In fact, I did not feel the time passing by till the voiceover announcement informed that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ Rossa and Aisyah Aziz were up next, indicating the second last performance of the night (I had the benefit of knowing who was performing in order of performances and songs thanks to the media press kit given to us). Slowly but surely, the organising team have begun to master the art of keeping things compact within a two-and-a-half hour timeframe. The commercial breaks were short, between three to four minutes, and most people who went to relieve themselves or went out for a quick smoke break ended up returning to their seats during the following commercial breaks or rushing back when the live cameras were rolling. Where previously the event felt like a drag, I have seen a lot of improvement in this area over the past two to three years.

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Cakra Khan, Sufie Rashid and Hazama paying tribute to Sweet Charity with “Kamelia”…

I have been waxing lyrical all along other than making my unhappiness felt towards the audience for not being supportive enough. But of course I have other few niggly issues which I feel the need to voice out and hopefully improve future APM events. I already stated in my “Walk of the Stars” entry that not many artistes walked onstage to be introduced to the audience and how it would be nice for the audience to see our very own local acts be introduced to them. I also overheard and observed how the local artistes had to enter through the same doors and walked along the same route as the other audience. Though it would be nice to see them enter the event venue through another route as a mark of exclusivity accorded to artistes, I believe logistical issues were probably why they had to enter through the same way as the general audience or the fact that they were not mobbed could have been another factor why they entered the same way as the rest.

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Another one of my favourite shots of the night, this time with Dato’ Rossa

Logistical issue was also another factor why there was no post-event reception after APM ended last year. I was pleased that at least there was one this time round. Where some might complain about having to make do with light / finger food not befitting of such a prestigious event, I personally feel that beggars cannot be choosers. It was gracious and kind enough for the organisers to provide a place where artistes could do a bit of networking with industry players and fill their stomachs a bit before going for supper with friends elsewhere. Cos I’m sure a lot of artistes when they meet friends and such, they would want to adjourn to another place to continue their conversations. Fathin Amira Zubir was the busiest from my observations of the goings-on during the post-event reception, handing over her single CDSebenarnya” to various artistes and people from the music industry. I should have asked one from her, never mind if I had to pay for it, cos I always do my bit to purchase products from our local acts, rather than expect freebies or complimentary copies.

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APM promotes friendship and warmth between artistes from the three countries. This photograph is one fine example.

Before the event and after looking at its graphics poster, I noted on my Facebook status that there was a bit of lopsidedness in terms of female performers and bands if one were to compare those in Singapore to our regional counterparts. Malaysia and Indonesia each had a band representative and more than one female performer than us who only had Aisyah Aziz to be proud of. I had called upon the organisers to balance the odds and add an additional female performer and band, cos seriously after watching Konsert Siti Nurhaliza Live back in March as well as SG Mania and Singa Maksima Live prior to APM2014, I felt the likes of Fathin Amira Zubir, Sarah Aqilah, Farisha Ishak and Tujuhband at least deserved to represent us and performed that night. I was absolutely sure they would not disappoint us on the big stage. At the same time I was not expecting much given the nineteen awards that were presented and the already stellar-cast on show having to fit into a compact timeframe of two-and-a-half hours.

APM2014 2014-10-17 3771 Loved this tribute segment for three Divas who recently passed on, Dato’ Sharifah Aini, Diana Nasution and Kartina Dahari…

I just hope for future APMs, more of such acts would be showcased cos we do not have a dearth of talent in our local pool, but it is sometimes a question of us having confidence if they would deliver or not. Somehow I have been observing over the years that our local bands do not get much exposure on television as compared to individual artistes. Most variety or charity shows on Suria do not feature our local bands as much as we would like them to. We know they have composed and churned out radio hits, some even topping the charts for weeks, but relatively, I dare say most of them are an unknown quantity to the masses. I wonder if it is a case of budgeting (cheaper to pay a solo singer as compared to a group / band) or show producers do not have confidence on the abilities and capabilities of our local bands. When was the last time we saw the likes of Diorama, The Sallys, Tujuhband, Aryan Band, Kraton, Klutz etc. on television??? It’s either been a long time or none at all!!! I hope the next edition of SG Mania would feature bands instead of individual singers. Cos really our bands deserve a platform to showcase their talents to the masses.

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Oddly enough, the hosts only appeared onstage together twice throughout the whole show…

But speaking of our local bands and I hope they don’t kill me after this for saying this, I noticed a lot of them were too quick to get up from their seats that night during the commercial breaks to go for smoke breaks. I’m not a smoker and I cannot understand this addiction for nicotine, but surely some of them could have limited themselves to one break or none at all over the course of the whole event. Cos it didn’t look nice (since the event was also attended by dignitaries, people from the industry, sponsors and foreign guests sitting near the front rows where they were seated) that our local artistes were more interested in having a puff than watching the awards show. There were times during the show where they were all seen rushing back to their seats, some smelling from their cigarette smells which was and is a major turn-off.

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Awie still packs a punch onstage and remains one of the best performers with his showmanship…

Respect in many ways, deeds and creeds, I believe goes two ways. If you want the bigwigs to sit up, take notice of your talents and feature you in future, you need to show a bit of respect towards yourselves and the event you’re at, cos there are many other observant eyes around us besides myself. It might be trivial, but little things sometimes might be used as a cause against you. And I personally wouldn’t want that to hinder their progress or possible exposure to the masses. I can only dispense advice from a perspective of an observer who has seen and heard grouses from people from the industry. At times I become the Agony Aunt to some of our local acts and listen to some of the problems they face. But I do not have the answers to everything, but where I can help, I’ll try to. This is one aspect I noticed and feel the need to voice out for them to improve on their image and standing as talents and acts to be given due respect.

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WINGS closed the proceedings with an energetic medley of their current and past hits…

I finally come to my last paragraph. So much for saying at the start that I won’t make this a lengthy entry. I wanted to share more anecdotes and problems faced behind-the-scenes, but I guess I won’t because some things are best left unsaid to protect the dignity of others and the event as a whole. Some backstage politicking should remain between the relevant parties and not one for me to stick my nose into. I was there at the awards show to be entertained and to meet friends in the scene. I was sufficiently satisfied by what I saw onstage and contented with what I had off it, which made me feel that this was one of the most enjoyable APM events I had attended. I hope the next time APM is organised, Suntec City Convention Centre would continue to be the event venue. Congratulations once again to all the award winners and to the organising team from Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division for a job well done!!!

Snapshots of APM2014

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza Live In Singapore 2014 Review…

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I know it is a bit stale to put up this entry more than a month after the concert has passed. But I have extremely good reasons why I chose to post this up much later as I gave myself time to cool down from unsavoury and moments of displeasure experienced after the said concert. In fact, I had been contemplating, hemming and hawing whether I should even post this up if it means having to revisit and open up old wounds. I have only decided to just publish it after much deliberation, as I feel that my bad experience after the concert was a separate matter on its own. You will be reading about it in the latter paragraphs since I had actually typed them in anger a day after the concert, but you will also be reading a more balanced and fair review of the concert per se in this entry. So if you were to see a difference in mood and emotions, you will know which ones were typed much earlier and which ones were much later.

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A showcase by Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza is always anticipated and expected over here, once she has done a tour or series of concerts in her home country. It was with great pleasure that I received the news of her impending concert here in Singapore as early as January this year and looked forward to attending it, just as I had done so for her past three solo concerts (Harbour PavilionMarch 2000, Singapore Indoor StadiumJuly 2005, Esplanade Concert HallMarch 2008) and the combined showcases with Dato’ M. Nasir, also at Esplanade back in January 2010 and Konsert Diva,all the way back in April 2000, where she shared the stage with Dato’ Sheila Majid, Anita Sarawak and Hetty Koes Endang. Every showcase and concert that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza performs on these shores is a landmark and milestone on its own for me on a personal level. And this recent one at The Star Performing Arts Theatre in Buona Vista was no different. As she celebrated 19 years of existence in the music industry with the concert, yours truly celebrated ten years of blogging on our local Malay entertainment scene.

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Over the years, and especially since 2007, I have slowed down on following her career journey, a little less faithful to put it nicely, than I used to. When in the past I would buy every single album she released, I have since stopped doing so. No, it’s not a form of protest or anything, but I guess priorities and responsibilities in life make one a little less of a groupie than before. I have had extremely memorable and eventful moments supporting her journey in the music scene circa 1996-2005 before family commitments came along. One that still sticks in my memory to this day was helping out at the charity concert by Suria Records artistes (her record label which had stellar acts like Liza Hanim, New Boyz, Noraniza Idris, Aqasha and Handy Black, amongst others back then) back on 16 August 2002, where it was held at one of the halls of Singapore Expo.

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I was given a prominent role behind-the-scenes for that particular charity concert and will always be thankful to Kak Sabariah Hirma, her PR Manager here in Singapore for that experience, as well as the other times I was allowed to meet Dato’ Siti herself in person, mostly to send her off at the airport. It was from that aforementioned concert too that I made friends with several key personnel from Dato’ Siti‘s own production company, including her younger sister Saerah. Which is why going to a concert or showcase by Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza is not just to pay homage to her enchanting vocals, but also to say hello to the people working closely with her. Cos seriously, how often do we get to meet and catch up with one another, with all our respective busy schedules???

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I was initially sceptical as to how many would actually turn up for the concert. Not to belittle Dato’ Siti‘s pulling power cos her name alone would guarantee more bums to seats, but looking at the overall attendance for big concerts over the past five years, some have been hits, and some have been misses in the attendance factor, even with big names headlining them. Her last solo concert in 2008, if my memory has not failed me, was not actually a sell-out event as compared to the one in 2005. But it has to be said also that that concert back in 2008 was held on a weekday. People might have been hesitant to go as they would have to go to work early the next day. This recent concert organised by Hype Records was held on a Saturday night, so it was definitely heartening to see that the theatre was at least three-quarters full, given that the venue is huge and has about a capacity of 5000 people.

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Listening to all the songs Dato’ Siti performed that night was like a walk down memory lane. Almost every song brought back memories, some good, some not-so, but everytime I listen to them, they all tell a story or bring me back to the times I was in polytechnic, serving the nation in the Army or even during the economic crisis where it was difficult for me to attain a job with a stable income after my National Service stint ended. But as always, amongst all the songs that she performed that night or whenever she performs “Wajah Kekasih“, memories of her wearing a necklace I gave her and singing that song in a Hari Raya eve programme back in 1997 on RTM 1, would fill my heart with pride and my head with nostalgia and contentment that she does appreciate the gifts given to her by her fans. That necklace was given to her on the night she received her very first overseas awards which she mentioned during the concert.

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When she asked the audience if they knew she had received one of her first awards in Singapore, some knew, while most probably did not. I was so tempted to get off my seat and shout, “24 December 1996Anugerah Muzik PopularSuntec City Convention Centre“, but decided not to in the end. I remember that event till this day as the show was over-runned and lasted about four hours. But what was unique about that awards event was, it was not organised by our local Malay radio stations, even though they supported it as official radio stations. Like Anugerah Planet Muzik, it had a stellar cast of performers and big names from Malaysia and Singapore. Dato’ Siti was just a newcomer in the scene at that time, and together with fellow record label group 2 By 2, they were the next big things on show that night. Look how far she has progressed since that fateful night???

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Though Dato’ Siti remarked that night, that “Kesilapanku, Keegoaanmu” was more popular with karaoke-goers than on radio charts, I believe she said that probably due to its rather lukewarm response across the Causeway. But not here though, cos I do remember the song topped our local Malay radio charts for more than a month, more than a decade ago. She performed that song as well as most of the songs that night in a different arrangement to the ones we have been accustomed to from her albums. With such fresh arrangement, some being more upbeat than the other, it made for a concert that was filled with memories aplenty, nostalgic moments reminisced, as evergreen favourites were belted one after another, but still remaining relevant in this day and age, thanks to the astute mind of Aubrey Suwito.

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Being a veteran goer of all her concerts here, I could see a big difference from the time she first started out as well as noted a stark maturity in comparison to her first two solo concerts. Gone were all the fancy props and backdrops, not forgetting the minimal costume changes. Even the number of dancers which used to colour her concerts have since been kept to an almost bare minimum. Nineteen years in the music scene, Dato’ Siti is at a stage whereby she does not need all those razzmatazz to add flair to her concerts. People come to watch her for her melodious and enchanting vocals. No matter what she does onstage, people will just lap it up. She will always have the audience under her thumb the moment she steps onstage or opens her mouth to sing.

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Her almost two-decade long career has also moulded her into being an all-rounded entertainer. Who can forget how shy she was at interacting with the audience when she first started out??? That night however, she was like a stand-up comedian, poking fun at at the audience, at herself, her husband and even the invited guests. Her first decade as an entertainer showed up quite a number of flaws and rough work that needed to be polished. 12 April 2014, along with about 3000-4000 people in attendance, I witnessed a flower that has blossomed and bloomed to perfection. Even when she cracked jokes and made fun, they did not come across as rude, like some entertainers or comedians out there. She did it all with grace, poise and with a touch of class. The punchlines that came along with her banter were spot-on.

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Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza is known to work with a trusted working circle and if you are a regular concert goer of hers, you will also note the familiar faces onstage that back her up, either as sessionists or on vocals. In the past, I have been used to seeing Pak Ngah on accordions and Steve Thornton on percussions, so it felt a little strange to watch her concert that night without the presence of the aforementioned duo. I also note another change in approach by Dato’ Siti during the concert. When in the past, she would call up female members of the audience onstage to dance with her, that night, those that went up were all guys. Though I wished that someone would have gone onstage to sing “Muara Hati” with her. I know for a fact that a certain Hyrul Anuar in the audience would have jumped at the chance and do justice to the song, had she seen him. Or at the very least, have Taufik Batisah singing with her, rather than limit his appearance to the evergreen hits by Singapore artistes segment.

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Which finally brings me to my embarrassing and humiliating episode at the concert. Most of you who know me personally or have been following this blog would note that I am a huge fan of Malaysia‘s number one icon. Which was why I felt covering her concert would be the icing on the cake of my tenth year of doing entertainment blogging for our local Malay scene. When it comes to watching a show of immense quality, I have never been one to compromise on the seating price and would not hesitate to pay for the most expensive tickets just to get a good view of the show. The recent concert was no different, and I even booked it the minute I woke up when I was overseas back in February. Out of respect for the concert organisers, I did voice out that I would like to cover the concert and do a write-up. I was granted a media pass but was briefed that I could only snap photographs during the first two songs and during the duet segment with Taufik Batisah.

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I did as per instructed but was quite surprised to see other media-accredited photographers snapping away even after the first two songs were done. Since I did not see the ushers stopping them, I continued throughout the concert and I was not stopped either by any of them. However one of the organising staff came up to me somewhere near the end, when Dato’ Siti was mingling with the audience and singing one of her final songs (“Cindai“), and told me indignantly to return to my seat and that I was not supposed to be taking photographs. Imagine I was singled out, when at that point of time I was just standing by the side and not even aiming my camera lens at anyone, whereas there were so many others who got off their seats, came forward and snapped away with their camera phones. Throughout the course of the concert, the audience was taking photographs and video snippets and uploading them on their respective social media accounts. How do these people manage to get away with it when someone like me with a media pass gets told off by the same person who granted me the pass???

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When the concert ended, I was told by a fellow media friend that there was a meet and greet session and that the media were allowed in. I was initially together with them, discussing the high points of the concert and was ushered into the waiting area for the media along with them. Followers of this blog would note that I do not do interviews and would just snap the goings-on of what transpire in front of me. Even if I were to “disturb” the artistes, it would be for them to pose for my camera and that too does not take more than ten seconds, fifteen at the most. Which was my initial intentions when I entered the room meant for the meet-and-greet session, which was just to snap some memorable photographs of Dato’ Siti meeting her fans and the media. The same staff who had told me off earlier, this time raised her voice in front of my media counterparts and asked what was I doing there when I was not supposed to, upon seeing me standing by the side. I had not even snapped any photos at that point of time.

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I could have kicked up a fuss but I felt perhaps I was really in the wrong for flouting rules which were not briefed to me much earlier, and since I was already embarrassed and humiliated enough from the raised voice and treatment I got, I immediately left after she reiterated again that I was not supposed to upload photographs I took after the first two songs and other than the duet segment. When I left, I could see the faces of my fellow media colleagues, how apologetic and sorry they were for dragging me into this mess, but I do not blame them for it cos I felt they brought me in along with them in good faith and out of goodwill. I am just utterly disappointed that things turned out very badly in the end. I could have been told off nicely or at the very least brought to a corner and explained why I was not allowed inside. I could have accepted that even if it was grudgingly. Not being told off in front of others like that. Respect, whatever I had for this particular staff all these while, has gone out of the window.

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For the first time I felt that, even with a media pass hanging on my neck, it was meaningless. Contrast this to the treatment I got during Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 where I was ushered in to the waiting area for the performers when I first arrived, even when I had no plans whatsoever to disturb or interview them knowing they were doing their last minute preparations. I refrained from entering the changing rooms and just waited for whoever to come out to pose for my camera when they were ready, and left them to do their private rehearsals in peace. That has always been my style and approach, to let the artistes do their thing in peace, yet this treatment made me feel like some kind of pariah. I was not hard up for an interview, neither was I disturbing anyone in that respect, I was just standing by the side watching proceedings. Yet I was singled out as a gate-crasher and uninvited guest, even after giving support to some of the artistes and events by this particular organiser over the years.

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In my anger, days after the concert, I almost decided to boycott doing any write-ups nor reviews on the concert itself, even if I have good things to say about the performers, which also included The Final One winner, Farisha Ishak, as the opening act. For all the support that I had given, paying for the most expensive seats, hoping to give a good account by saying good things about the organisation and execution of the show, yet the treatment I got was like a slap to my face which is still ringing in my ears till today. It is extremely difficult for our local entertainment industry to grow when there is apparently little to no synergy, good working relationship and trust between media and record labels, show promoters and event organisers. When the media wants to help you in anyway you can, you embrace it, or even when you cannot reciprocate in kind, you respond with the same respect they had accorded to you. Kindness begets kindness.

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I am not sure if there is any exclusive arrangement with any media organisation for this recent concert, but I wonder why should the big players always have the bigger slice of the pie in the name of exclusivity, when there is only a handful of media companies / individuals here in Singapore??? We all want to see the industry thrive and we all would like to help in one way or another to see it blossom. Yet this segregation and ostracising has left a very bad taste in my mouth. I know as an entertainment blogger, people might not take me seriously, even after ten years of being in the scene. But at least treat me with the same respect and support I had given them all these while. There are only two television channels (Mediacorp Suria and Sensasi), two radio stations (RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM), two print medias (Berita Harian and Manja), two entertainment portals (Sungguh.com and Gumbira) and one active entertainment blog in our local Malay entertainment industry. I personally rate mine being at the bottom of the pile. Perhaps that’s why people don’t give two hoots with what I offer on the table.

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I also wonder what significant impact I would gain out of sharing the other photographs I took from the concert with my readers??? I don’t earn through blogging and I certainly do not earn from sharing photographs with my readers. Though I understand copyright issues can be a legal problem when it comes to video recordings and to some extent, photographs being sold for a profit, I believe it is high time concert organisers and venue operators relax some of their rulings and allow at least photographs to be taken. In this day and age, with people carrying smartphones and androids, there is no way they can stifle and refrain the audience from taking photographs during the shows. There will always be people who would want to take for personal memories’ sake. It is blatantly shared on social media accounts like nobody’s business. Even other media outlets were sharing live updates of the concert. And what is the percentage of people making money out of them??? My personal guess is: Not much!!! Or even zilch!!!

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If I were to be blacklisted after this for my rant and honest comments by the organisers, then so be it. I have been mentally prepared since I typed them out in anger a day after the concert. My intentions and conscience were clear with regards to covering the concert. I wanted it to be celebrated and remembered for all the right reasons, to even help promo as best as I know I could. Unsavoury incidents like what happened to me, spoilt what I had so excitedly wanted to share to my readers. But do let it be known that my anger is not aimed towards the organisers who had done a stellar job in bringing Dato’ Siti to our shores, as well as done everything to near perfection, but the staff who had so overzealously created an unnecessary friction and tried to play hard ball. The concert itself was an immense pleasure to watch, sadly the conclusion at the end soured a great night and what was supposed to be a celebratory event for me on a personal level as an entertainment blogger in the local Malay scene…

Viva Elektra 2014

Viva Elektra

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

It’s been awhile since I did a review on an event that I attended at the Mediacorp TV Theatre. Simply because when I accepted the invites from Mediacorp Suria to attend these shows or events, more often than not, I did not see the need to review as they are either a light-hearted affair or for charity. I was there to just snap photos of the event and during the reception afterwards without seeing the need to comment much. Sometimes I don’t need to voice my thoughts as others have done it for me on social media. Anyway there are so many keyboard warriors out there too quick to jump on the bandwagon of criticising without giving substantial suggestions. I guess it’s a favourite pastime now to use one’s handphone keypads to comment every single thing they see on the google box, be it good or bad. I’m guilty of it sometimes when I watch football and passions are running high.

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I note from several people I’ve met of late that this blog has somewhat stagnated and that the writer (or should I say, typist???) behind the words on this domain has lost his zest and panache to hit where it hurts, or to put it kindly, give a wake up call when it mattered. Over the years as I mellow down and become less confrontational and got to know more people, I find that it is a challenge to be as hard-hitting as before. I had to tweak and fine-tune my style so as not to be too cynical or cause frictions with others in the long run. Maybe fatherhood has made me more forgiving, understanding and giving others the benefit of doubt but I like to think I type better when I’m having that red mist and I don’t quite experience that as often as before. Wish I could post more entries but like I said from time to time, I am not paid to blog and this is something I do as a community service as and when I am free from my work, family and personal commitments.

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The front row audience consisting of bigwigs in the local media industry as well as guest of honour Dr. Mohd Faishal Ibrahim

Anyway, I was honoured to be invited again to attend the recent Viva Elektra event at Mediacorp TV Theatre. The two-hour variety special was the fourth instalment by Suria and was previously known as Suria Elektra (2010), Rock Elektra (2011) and Bandstand Elektra (2012). The show belatedly celebrated the formation of MediaCorp’s Malay Broadcast Division, the merger between television channel Suria and radio stations Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM, hence there was an eclectic mix of performers from radio presenters to television personalities and established recording artistes that night. Viva Elektra in a way, symbolised the division’s hopes to establish a commitment to continually bring high quality programmes to their audience, be it on radio and television. Expect to see more of such shows in the near future involving the radio and television personalities. We are already anticipating cross-platform programmes like TeRaSeh 2.0, R&D and the sixth season of infotainment show JUS! this month. Viva Elektra was just the start!!!

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The men who made the night ticked – Dyn Norahim and Khairudin Samsudin

Looking at how the radio and television personalities collaborated on stage, I had a feel-good feeling that we can expect more entertaining shows on television and radio as well. Yes, I will not deny that I’ve heard rumours going round that certain gigs and jobs are affected due to the merger, but I would like to call upon all the artistes who might feel a little slighted that their places and roles in television programmes might be taken up by their radio counterparts, to treat this as a healthy competition. Granted we might not be like our next door neighbour where there are so many channels one can tune to and for radio and television personalities to still do well when they cross platforms, but there are possible avenues that can be explored. Radio could possibly have seasonal guest hosts like what Fauzie Laily did co-hosting Skoolz with Nity Baizura a few years ago. Or if they were to have a shake-up of personnel, who knows, they might just rope in some of these television personalities into their stables??? Let’s not see it as a form of hindrance to one’s rice bowl, but to work as a unit to lift the standards of our local Malay entertainment scene.

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The cast of Tak2ut (from left): Ashmi Roslan, DJ KC, Fadhlur Rahman and Wan Haddad

Maybe a little criticism I would have of Viva Elektra was that feeling of imbalance in some of their segments. While the skit involving the Tak2ut cast (Ashmi Roslan, Wan Haddad and Fadhlur Rahman) and DJ KC seemed a bit short, the Bangsawan and Pentas Radio segments felt a wee bit too long for my liking. I just feel that the song performed by Eiss, “Arjuna (Mencari Cinta)“, was redundant and only served to prolong the segment, even though the audience and myself were tickled by the humour presented by all the performers involved. It is nice to see new faces on television like Wan Haddad and Nurfarhana M Noor given their big break on a big scale event as this. Also Junaidi Sali who often plays a supporting cast to be given the limelight he deserves after all these years.

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Fauzie Laily (left) seldom gets comedic roles but when he gets them, he excels…

Nurfarhana it has to be said, is a name and face to watch this year. Her stock is rising and it is not easy to score a lead role in one’s debut drama series (Rima Hatiku) and subsequent ones like Follow Fasha, unless one has the potential and package to succeed. She is currently seen in the new season of Di Luar Garisan and will be one of the participants for TeRaSeh 2.0. I won’t be surprised if she scores a hosting gig in the near future cos she has that bubbly personality to do it. You heard it first on this domain. Another one to impress me was RIA 89.7FM‘s Dzar Ismail. I’m a big fan of his daily Singa Maksima programme and from one karaoke session we had some months ago, I could see his hidden talent and passion in rapping, which was displayed that night when he performed “Cerita Kedai Kopi” with Tukangkata and Sezairi Sezali. I know some people do not quite like his sometimes excessive energy levels, but I think he is a breath of fresh air on radio. And yes I still claim credit unashamedly for saying he belongs in radio when I assessed his performances when he entered Anugerah Skrin back in 2010.

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The one to watch this year – Nurfarhana M Noor. A flower blossoming at a continued pace…

Another criticism I would add on will be the choice of performing artistes and some of the songs they performed. Before the show, I saw on social media how people lamented that it’s basically the same faces over and over again. To some extent, I would agree with them as I too felt the same way when I saw the list of performing artistes slated to perform. No I am not attacking or blaming the singers who performed cos they are all excellent in their own respect. My complaint would be a lack of more variety than what we’re used to. Take for instance we have so many bands producing good quality music in Singapore. The likes of Diorama, Tujuh, Klutz are some of the bands that are under-rated here. And if you speak of individual acts, there’s Reyza Hamizan, Sufie Rashid, Chomel, Aidil Akmal, Nurdiana Saad, upcoming acts who deserved to be given their dues and be introduced to the masses.

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The hosts replicating Ellen Degeneres at the recent Oscars and taking a selfie photograph with the audience…

I appreciate that we would want to entice people to watch as their favourites would be performing but it does not send a message that the artistes feel appreciated, even though radio plays their music on a daily basis. There is no point having your songs known on radio when people still dunno who you are. Just ask Audionauts when they won at APM2013. There were still people asking on social media and on newspaper reports wondering who they were. “Rentak Laguku“, the song performed by Aliff Aziz, Eiss and Sezairi Sezali, was another one that I felt was a bit redundant as it was only as recent as last October that we witnessed Amy Search and Bunkface performed the song at APM2013. And even though I love Taufik Batisah‘s “Sesuatu Janji” amongst all his songs to date, I think that was the fourth or fifth time he performed the song at a Suria event, in addition to APM2008.

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Group photo with all the performers that night once the cameras stopped rolling…

Overall, Viva Elektra was an enjoyable show, even if it did overrun by about eleven minutes. The choice of having Khairudin Samsudin and Warna 94.2FM‘s Dyn Norahim was a good one, with both trading barbs at one another and the latter being the brunt of many of the former’s jokes. At certain points, Dyn looked jittery but it should be forgiven as this was afterall his first live television hosting gig. Speaking to him afterwards, he said that it was nerve-wrecking and a very different experience compared to his daily live show on radio. Like many others before him, I am sure he will grow into the role and be better. Am certainly looking forward to seeing him host the new season of JUS! alongside the gorgeous Ainon Talib and Nurul Akhmar come the end of April. For now I can’t wait for TeRaSeh 2.0. It’s gonna be an absolute riot!!!

Farisha Ishak’s “Aligned” Album Launch Media Conference…

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It’s been almost half a year since her coronation as “The Final 1” on Mediacorp Channel 5‘s reality singing competition held last year. Over the past five months or so since her win, she has been working hard behind the scenes, recording her debut album which finally made its way in local music stores (CD RAMA) on 28 January 2014. However the media conference held in conjunction with the album launch was held slightly later, about a week after the CDs have been made available, on 6 February 2014. The event was held at The Star Loft, situated on the eleventh floor of The Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista. In a way, it was a full circle for Farisha as she was conferred the title of “The Final 1” at the same building on 21 August 2013.

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Farisha being interviewed by Elliot Danker

Those who had followed “The Final 1” competition since the start would note that Farisha was a model of consistency week in and out. I remember being very impressed by her showing since the very first episode. Besides Farisha, I had other favourites as well but when one by one got eliminated in the competition in the early stages, I felt that the competition was hers to be won at a canter, no disrespect to the other participants. And she did!!! I was mesmerised by her rendition of “Tonight” during the Grand Finals cos I never thought she could pull off a song with an upbeat tempo as well as when she sings ballads and slow numbers. She was a worthy winner that night and the final result was never in doubt.

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Farisha performed three songs during the event…

Back to her album launch. Titled “Aligned“, the album consists of nine original compositions, six in English and the remaining three in Malay. Of note, three of the songs found in her album, “Life Is Beautiful“, “Hidup Ini Indah” and “Stranded“, were penned by this talented 19-year old. During the media conference event, I was intrigued by how calm, confident and eloquent Farisha was when posed with questions from host Elliot Danker. Some new artistes need a bit of coaxing to describe themselves or even their songs / albums, but Farisha displayed the kind of confidence seen in seasoned professionals.  Of course I will not describe in detail what went on during the event as you can view highlights of them in the short clip I have managed to put up and included at the end of this entry.

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Farisha being interviewed by RIA 89.7FM‘s Aura Shai

All I can say after observing Farisha, how she tackles the media and most importantly, how she enjoys herself onstage is that generally, I am excited to see how far she can progress in this small music industry of ours and whether she can push on and make waves abroad. With her willingness and determination to improve on her shortcomings, her confidence in being bilingual (even though she admits she could improve on her mother tongue), I feel that over time, the regional audience would warm up to her and she could be our best female export. Though her looks remind me of Malaysia‘s Nurul Wahab, her talent if nurtured well and she reaches diva status, a comparison with Dato’ Sheila Majid cannot be too far away.

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Get Farisha‘s “Aligned” album at all CD RAMA outlets now!!!

To Farisha, congratulations Adik on your album launch. I really, really hope that your career will take off from here, that the masses will receive your songs and album in kind, and of course, lend you their utmost support, even more than the one they gave during “The Final 1” competition. Keep your feet on the ground, remain humble as you already are and continue to improve on all aspects so that you can be an all-rounded performer. Wish you nothing but success in your music career and maybe someday, you will be willing to spread your wings and soar to even greater heights. As your mentor Taufik Batisah would say, “The sky’s the limit…”

P.S. Thank you to Hype Records and Artiste Networks for the kind invitation to this memorable event… 🙂

Snapshots of Farisha’s Album Launch Media Conference Event…

More Photographs of Fauzie Laily & Nurul Huda’s Wedding…

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I promised this particular entry after my APM2013 review and looking at the date, which is almost two months after the wedding, I was in two minds whether to publish this or just put it on the back burner. But a promise is a promise, and since people are still searching for photographs of Fauzie and Nurul‘s wedding, from the search terms I see that people keyed in before entering this domain, I guess there’s no harm sharing. Anyway, this domain is devoid of activity, so it badly needs an entry to keep its existence going. Apologies if this entry is a bit too late or feels a bit stale, but better late than never I guess. The photo gallery below are photographs taken on both the first day (over at the bride’s) as well as on the second day (at the groom’s). I did not stay long for both events so I might have missed out on snapping more photographs of the guests who attended. I was also not invited to the exclusive wedding dinner so forgive me if I have no photos of them. Just hope that the photos are enough to satiate your thirst to view the photographs, no matter how belated this entry is. Enjoy…