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Renowned for her powerhouse vocals, Malaysian songstress Dayang Nurfaizah has been one of Southeast Asia’s premiere singers for well over two decades now. Famed for her unique ability to blend classic Malay music with contemporary western pop and R&B, Dayang’s sterling discography, spanning 10 studio albums, has consistently been met with commercial and critical acclaim. Hot off her latest record, Belagu II, the multiple award-winning chanteuse talks to us about the songs that have shaped her as an artist and as a person.
Yes, of course, it was in a competition held in my hometown, Kuching. I was 12 and I sang a patriotic song called Bahtera Merdeka.
She was considered the greatest of all time, the voice that changed the music industry and also a legendary performer. My all-time favourite is I Have Nothing—especially how she performs it. She was blessed with a voice so powerful and rich, which seemed to come effortlessly whenever she took to the stage. It’s one of those songs I felt with all my soul even as a kid. It’s my ultimate “perfect” song!
Lauryn Hill. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill lives on!
My first single, Hakikat Cinta. I remember my journey of recording that song as I was still in school. It was surreal to listen to it being played on the radio for the first time. I could not believe that I was a recording artist and said to myself, “I am going to give it my all for my career. I want to be in music for the long haul.” Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), over 20 years later, I’m still here...
Find Someone Like You by Snoh Aalegra.
Diri by TULUS. A song about self-love and making peace with yourself. It’s something that we all need, a belief that everything will be okay.
Believe it or not, Sunday Morning by No Doubt.
I love the classics. I wanted to celebrate our music heritage in the albums. I especially wanted the younger generations to cherish these treasured Malay classics of ours.
There were many great songs, to be honest. Both myself and Aubrey Suwito, the producer of the albums, had a hard time choosing songs. But we had to narrow it down to songs that Aubrey could do justice to in terms of the music, as a producer and arranger, and also songs that I could see myself singing. It was not an easy process. There was a lot of back and forth, to pick the best songs to be presented in the albums. I hope fans are happy with the repertoire of songs chosen.
Please check out Layarlah Kembali. That song sums up Dayang Nurfaizah.
Dayang Nurfaizah’s sold out show will take place at Esplanade Concert Hall on 20 May 2023, as part of Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts. Find out more about the festival here, happening from 18 – 21 May 2023.
Hidzir Junaini is a freelance journalist in Singapore, currently covering film and television for publications such as NME Asia and Popwire. He has previously served as a writer and editor for various pop culture magazines such as inSing, JUICE Singapore, Bandwagon, MTV Asia, Straatosphere, and VICE, among others.
The good vibes continue
Celebrate the icons and treasures of the Malay community in its diversity and richness through the best in theatre, dance, and music from the Nusantara.