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!