Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).

Family Theatre

Me x Mum: Syurga Jeffrey x Asnida Daud

On sharing the stage


Published: 5 May 2020

Time taken : ~10mins

What is it like embarking on a journey in the arts when your mother is also walking that path?

We find out from host, singer and educator Asnida Daud and her daughter Syurga Jeffrey, a Secondary Four student who aspires to be a performer too.

Asnida Daud on:

Being bitten by the performing bug from a young age

I have to thank my teachers who always chose me to represent my class for singing or storytelling competitions because I was quite animated when I speak. (I think it was also due to my petite size. Being very expressive and dramatic in the way I speak compensated for my height because I could easily be lost in the crowd ☺).

I strongly believe that exposure to the performing arts has helped in building my self-esteem. With confidence, size doesn’t matter anymore.

Having a husband who is a musician, and introducing the arts to their four kids

Music is a staple at home or in the car. The children are always with us listening to our ’70s to ’90s playlist or watching our arts performances in Singapore or overseas.

In 2014, when I was recognised as a Malay Language ambassador for the Malay Language Month, I got more active in my advocacy, in imparting the love for Malay culture including arts, language and literature.

The point when she knew Syurga had talent as a singer

She is a quiet child, the opposite of me when I was around her age. When she was nine, I saw her singing to herself the songs that I listened to – Adele, Amy Winehouse, Nancy Sinatra – while looking at the mirror. I also noticed a unique style in her voice texture and cadence. That was when I knew, she got my genes. But the soul in her voice, is all hers.

Hopes for her children to go into the arts

I have recruited them as “calefare” or supporting actors in my educational video projects. My youngest, Qurnia, 10, is interested in the arts. I let him make his own decision to choose his CCA. He is in his school’s Malay Dance group, and is an aspiring bass player who loves Bob Marley, The Beatles and P. Ramlee.

Syurga, especially is very serious. She aspires to learn musical theatre in the future. Without formal training, she made her stage debut as one of the main cast for the 2017 launch and opening sketch of the Malay Language Month at Malay Heritage Centre alongside thespians Siti Khalijah Zainal, Irsyad Dawood, Norisham Osman and mummy.

What of her daughter reminds her most of herself

She is my Mini Me, but an “upgraded” version in her hard work, determination and kindness.

The one trait of her daughter she would like to “steal”

All of the above ☺. But she also has a lot to steal from me!

Syurga Jeffrey on:

How her mother has influenced and supported her musical journey

When my mum started posting videos of me singing when I was around nine, she once told me to step out from my comfort zone and try new things like performing in public. I was very scared at first so I didn’t want to try.

Then after watching my mum’s performances, I felt very inspired by her confidence and energy and felt like I want to try performing one day.

My mum has been supporting my musical journey even before I started performing. She has been motivating me, and I’ve been listening to her advice and improving myself step by step through performing.

Who is stricter: mum or dad?

My mum. Once she gets angry, she’ll turn into a lion, and her favourite line is, “Don’t push the button.” 😂

The performance of mum’s which she enjoyed the most

I enjoyed my mum’s performance in Classically Malay Too! with Orkestra Sri Temasek at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre earlier this year. I was very impressed with the way my mum and the musicians gave a fresh perspective to popular Western classical works such as Verdi’s Brindisi from La Traviata, with a Malay twist. The show was amazing because as a student who learns music as part of school assessment, I was in awe seeing how they can actually create a very unique performance.

Her dream as an artist

My dream is to travel the world and perform, and to show my talent not only locally, but around the world. I would also love to study Performance Arts (in LASALLE or NAFA) so that I can gain deeper knowledge about performing.

Favourite mother-daughter bonding activity

Singing, baking and exercising together. When we sing together, my mum points out my mistakes in singing and she also helps me to improve my vocal technique.

Her mother’s Instagram handle, @Cikgufunky

She is a cikgu (Malay for “teacher”) to me because she doesn’t only help me with my homework but she also teaches my siblings and I life lessons and gives us advice (e.g. how to be a better person). She is also funky to me because my mom has that type of “crazy-fun” attitude, which not all mothers have!

The one trait of her mother she would “steal”

I would steal her confidence because honestly until now I am still a shy person. Sometimes I don’t dare to step up. My mum is a confident person not only when it comes to performing, but she’s also confident as a mother.

Image of Syurga and Asnida taken from Hati Jati, a multidisciplinary showcase blending iconic Malay poetry (puisi), music and movement, held in conjunction with Wisma Geylang Serai’s 1st Anniversary celebrations in Jan 2020. Both Syurga and Asnida performed with Rafaat Hamzah and contemporary dance group P7:1SMA. Original photos by Jamaludin Jaafar.