“Kids these days don’t know local rock music as we do,” my dad would tell me, and fellow ‘70s and ‘80s kids might agree ? It was one of the most exciting periods in Singapore’s local music scenes - locally-made songs were topping the charts on radiowaves, and local rock bands were performing sold-out concerts at stadiums across the Causeway; I now know why those bygone eras were held deeply to the hearts of that generation so dearly ? Here’s a treat for you - these mega icons, plus other newer talented artists, will perform at Gita Raga, a concert as part of the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2022! ?
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What is Singapore Writers’ Festival 2022
Before we take you down memory lane of your glory days, here’s what Singapore Writers’ Festival 2022 is about. The annual literary festival is back from 4th to 20th November, in a full-scale physical format since the pandemic, under the theme ‘IF’ (JIKA, 若, எனில்), inspired by Singaporean writer Cyril Wong’s poem, “If…Else” ? Most events would be held at The Arts House, with select programmes occurring in satellite venues across the island. For fervent fans of the arts and cultural scene, you must purchase the $30 Festival Pass to access over 200 programmes! You can check out the full list of programmes, events, performances and more at the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2022’s website?
Gita Raga: Where Rock And Lyrical Poetry Comes Together
Gita Raga is a Malay-language music concert featuring established musicians Jatt Ali, Hanafie Warren, and Moliano, as well as popular Malay vocalists of the ‘90s and ‘00s Ryzall Noh, and Olynn Saleh. Happening on 5th November from 8 to 9 pm, this concert showcases songs based on poems written by familiar and well-loved figures in the history of Singapore literature ? With verses from the father of poetry, Masuri SN and Cultural Medallion recipients Mohd Latiff Mohd and Hadijah Rahmat, the programme brings together evergreen songs with the poeticism of yesteryear for an evening that will enthral and delight ? Alright, time for a grand re-introduction of these legends ?
Credit: Singapore Writers' Festival
In the ‘70s, only a few Singaporean bands could sell out a stadium in Kuala Lumpur, and Black Dog Bone was one of them ? Fronted by Jatt Ali, the crooner that oozes charm and the drummer of the band, the rock outfit was THE hottest local act of that decade. They released chart-topping singles such as ‘Si Gadis Ayu’, 'Khalayan' (a Malay cover of Earth Wind & Fire ‘Fantasy’) and that one Hari Raya song that still manages to get hearts wrenching till today, ‘Cahaya Aidilfitri’ ? The band members went their separate ways in 1981, such as Jatt Ali, who recorded two solo albums to moderate success and continued performing in Singapore and Malaysia ?
If bluesy rock was your jam, Lovehunters might probably be one of the highlights of your ‘80s ? The trio were putting out popular singles such as the evergreen ‘Sambutlah Kasih’, the guitar-heavy ‘Sehari Dalam Hidup’, and the rock-tinged ballad ‘Ku Ukir Namamu’. One of the key sounds of Lovehunters was the gritty, slightly funky guitar riffs made famous by the talented Maliano! ? You can expect a guitar-heavy rendition paired with poetic lyrics - if this isn’t rock heaven, we don’t know what is ? Not convinced? Here’s a snippet of Pak Moliano composing a song to the "Larilah Jika Boleh" poem by Masuri SN.
The world may have Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler rocking in their ‘70s, but we Singaporeans have our very own Hanafie Warren, the 71-year-old veteran - proof that rock knows no limit, even in age! ?He first entered the music scene in the ‘80s, like our two rockers mentioned above, when he became the vocalist of the popular five-piece rock band The Unwanted ? After going solo, his fame rose further in the ‘90s with the ballad track ‘Terperangkap Dalam Sinaran’ (Caught In The Spotlight in Malay). He has sold over 65,000 copies of albums and achieved over 50 live performances - a rock legend ? So what can you expect from him at Gita Raga? Nothing short of soul, nostalgic and iconic ?
Two more vocalists will also join the legends to add their style to these literary pieces. One is Ryzall Noh, an award-winning vocalist, composer and lyricist. Formerly the frontman of the now-defunct Malay progressive rock band Audionauts (who won the New Duo/Band award at the 2012 Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) and Singapore’s Most Popular Artiste at APM 2013 ?), Ryzall Noh has embarked on solo projects, still rock and rollin’ till today ?
Olynn Saleh has been a professional singer since the ‘90s, with impressive achievements under her belt! ? Known for belting a tight mix of dance, Latin, pop and rock hits from the 80s till the present with Singapore’s popular live music covers band Shagies, we’re intrigued to find out her literary composition ? Perhaps it might be like their trademark song request, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody - the best bits of everything music offers ?
It’s time to take yourselves back to the skinny jeans, big-hair, ‘rock kapak’ (a slang related to the rise in Malay rock music in the ‘80s)era and have jiwang (Malay slang for soulful) beltings session at Gita Raga with these ‘80s icons ? You may not know the TikTok-esque tunes of today, but at least you can brag to us kids that you were a part of the glorious era that has yet to revive thus far ?
Cost of tickets: $25, $35, $45. Concessions are available, do check out here for more information.
Location: Victoria Theatre
*Do note that Festival Pass does not cover individually ticketed programmes such as Gita Raga.
This article is brought to you by Arts House Limited.