Thursday, September 11, 2008

Singing The Blues Away

The STF singing quartet 1971
(from left): Zam, Jon, Kama, Minah

I like to sing, that goes without saying. However, I can't, and have never been able to, reach the high notes, so no Celine Dion, Mariah Carey or Siti Nurhaliza songs for me. No regrets either, because I am not a fan of theirs.

Unlike some of my regular karaoke buddies at the Club, I have never taken voice lessons. There are two reasons for this; firstly, I don't take my singing that seriously to merit coaching, and secondly, it somehow feels wasteful to spend money just to improve one's karaoke skills.

Had singing been my bread and butter, I probably would have thought differently. I did, in one brief moment of madness eons ago, consider singing as a career, but shelved the idea for I didn't want to hasten my grandma's demise (she said she would die of shame, if I sang for my supper).

In fact she was pretty voluble in berating me for daring to even harbour the notion of becoming an anak wayang (her term, not mine). But I shall spare you the gory details to save us both the embarrassment.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I sang with a kugiran (band) when I was in my teens, growing up in Dungun. We would perform at weddings and social functions for a small fee. It was a five-man band; the lead guitarist was also the lead singer while I was the female vocalist.

To a certain extent my grandma, bless her soul, was quite indulgent of what she termed as my 'nonsense' because she knew I loved to sing. She even sewed my dresses when there were invitations to perform. But that was the limit of her support. She made it clear she didn't want a chanteuse in the house.

When I entered boarding school in 1971 after my LCE, I found kindred spirits in three other girls who shared my passion. Minah, Jon, Zam and yours truly teamed up to form a singing quartet - we called ourselves The Vandovers (I can't, for the life of me, remember why!) - took part in the school talentime and won second place.

When karaokeing, I think I fall into the all-encompassing category of "Bolehhhh lah", which means I won't ruin your appetite if I sing while you eat, and you may even feel entertained. While I can't rate my own performance, I know this much - you won't choke on your food.

I am not particular about genre and language and I have a decent repertoire of English, Malay, Indonesian, Hindustani, Chinese (Mandarin/ Cantonese/ Hokkien) and Thai songs. My forte is ballads although I am quite comfortable with asli and keroncong. And I lurvvv dangdut!

I like Thai songs because I understand the language. My Thai was pretty decent once, by virtue of my serving the Thai Tourism Board for four years. But singing Thai songs to a Malaysian crowd is like entertaining a bunch of deaf mutes. They looked at you blankly. Even the applause was muted, as though they weren't quite sure whether to clap or to boo.

Over the years, I have built a collection over 400 karaoke VCDs - original, cover version, pirated, remixed - you name it, chances are, I have it. That translates into some 5,000 songs.

More recently, I bought a karaoke system that comes with two microchips of another 5,000 songs. Where I'm going to find the time to learn all these songs, only heaven knows. But I do spare a couple of hours a day exercising my vocals - no, not by nagging Pak Abu - but in anticipation of the next karaoke session.

Life is simple. Life is good. I love it!


bangkai said...

Singing is so therapeutic, isn't it, ma'am?

But seriously, with a collection of 10,000 songs you say you are not serious? You must sing like a nightingale.

mayang mengurai said...

Wow! I'd say this is some serious hobby you got there! I enjoy singing too & when karaoke first became fashionable, kita pun sama naik. Seriously, I can't sing, but do enjoy listening to people who can. Perhaps, you should do a collection of your own - with you singing, I mean! Boleh jual (or tinggal as legacy):)

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

Indeed it is, BangKai. it makes you forget all your woes for a while.Nightingale? Not by a mile..

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

I have always taken my hobbies seriously MM.. hehehe.. those days I was drinking seriously too. thank God it's over and done with, that one. At least this current hobby won't lead to excruciating hangovers..:)

Pi Bani said...

Awat tak masuk Bintang RTM? :)

To me karaoke means either "kira ok" or "tarak ok". My singing skill, of course, is in the 2nd category...

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

sebab takut kat opah. dia tak suka bab-bab jadi penghibur ni.. dia prejudiced sikit. zaman tu, maklumlah.

Maya said...

err..Kasih by Hetty Koes E satuu..

hehe..that's my olldies fav

Kak Teh said...

I find that the shower can be very deceptive. I can be anyone I want - Tony Brixton, Siti Nurhaliza, Adibah Noor. But once outside, its a different story. But that hasn't stopped me..I am an Uji Rashid and The Carpenters person although I have been known to belt out Unbreak My Heart and clear the room in minutes.

MrsNordin said...

Wow! You were in a kugiran before?? That's totally cool!

I used to sing with a kugiran when I was 9 or 10 y.o., masa cousins kawin kat kampung. Alah... main hentam je. Lagu Uji Rashid mostly. But after a while, the older cousins took over the mike (you know.. teenagers, at their prime, more peminat that kind of thing) and I felt sidelined. Then I stopped singing.

Like you, I enjoy karaoke as well (as you can see from my blog)tapi tak de lah terror sangat nyanyi. Our karaoke songs collection is quite extensive jugak sebab MrNordin pun suka nyanyi.

I thought of getting that microphone with the microchip thingy too after someone mentioned it to me sometime back, but I haven't spotted it anywhere yet. Where did you get yours from?

Well Puteri, if indeed we are destined to meet one of these days and do the karaoke thingy, I'm sure it's gonna be a day/night to remember!


Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

that's the beauty of karaoke kan kak pak abu says, karaoke is for ppl to "bantai' singing only. kalau dah terer sangat, no need karaoke ler, jadi professional singer. i agree. nyanyi in shower best.. especially masa soaping2..LOL

you can get this MagicSing kat One Utama, Mrs N.. old wing, second floor, the shop's name is CMY HiFi something, tapi you hv to place an order..they don't carry ready stock. You can test the system kat situ..ada big screen tv and all.

Seri Serodja said...

I love listening to music too especially the "malar segar" aka kelasik..singing is a no no..i did not realised that it was so bad until my 2 year old daugther give me a stare once i tried to lullaby her ...must be very annoying..(14 years ago)

Sharing with you this website, you can play streaming the whole day..not so much in promoting but sharing

it plays 20 songs with one click..

..this songs are precious..they dont sell it in the market anymore..

have a look..

Kak Teh said...

puteri!!!! That picture!! I have one of those and one day, may be one day will share it in blogworld. Sah lah kita seangkatan dan sewaktu.

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

Kak Teh, I bet you look 'groovy' in your pic..heheh...peace sista! I patiently await gambaq you..

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

seri, thanks for the link. the songs are good.

MrsNordin said...

Ha! Ha! That picture is so cool!!! How come my time, tak ada pun singing quartet macam tu? Respect!!!

Candie said...

People should read this.

Pat said...

One year after this, Kama, I was in a group called the 'KitKats'!!! We were a duo, and our school entered us in an inter-school competition, and we won ;)

I'm proud of that, as we were accompanied by The Revolvers, and Patrick Teoh (a DJ, then) was a judge.

Later we entered the then-Bakat TV, but we were kicked out in the quarter finals :(

My partner went on to become the famous actress of stage and occasionally, screen: Sukania Venugopal.

Me? I became the not-at-all-famous me! Hahahah!

So I share your joy in song, and would love to know where you found them karaoke machines!!!