In Tune With The Rhythm

Al­fred Ho has been per­form­ing mu­sic for more than three decades – yet he’s still chas­ing suc­cess. Find out what keeps this 68-year-old singer and guitarist go­ing strong

Men's Health (Malaysia) - - Guy Skills -

IF YOU ASK HIM, AL­FRED HO WILL tell you that he’s been a mu­si­cian since 1984. But it won’t take you much longer af­ter that to re­alise mu­sic has been an in­te­gral part of his life since he was a boy.

Blind since he was three years old due to measles, Ho be­came en­am­oured with the gui­tar when he heard his school­mate at the St. Ni­cholas School for the Blind in Pe­nang play­ing it. Slowly but surely, he taught him­self to play the in­stru­ment, and soon started singing for fun – es­pe­cially as those around him en­cour­aged and com­pli­mented him. But his hobby be­came some­thing more se­ri­ous in 1971 when he joined Bakat TV, a tal­ent con­test on RTM. “I thought it was just an en­ter­tain­ment pro­gramme, so I had noth­ing to lose,” Ho re­calls. “But I went right up to the semi­fi­nals, which was an achieve­ment to me be­cause I was an ama­teur.”

Al­though Ho found steady work as a tele­phone op­er­a­tor for the Pe­nang city coun­cil, he never quit mu­sic, as he moon­lighted as a singer in bars and pubs. But he found the dou­ble sched­ules ex­haust­ing, so, in 1984, he asked his em­ploy­ers to hire another blind per­son (which they did) so that he could pur­sue mu­sic full-time. Five English al­bums, one Chi­nese al­bum and three decades later, Ho has no re­grets about tak­ing the plunge. “Of course, I was scared and ap­pre­hen­sive – but noth­ing ven­tured, noth­ing gained,” Ho says. “I knew I could sing, so I took the chal­lenge and I came down to KL and started my ad­ven­ture here.

“Hav­ing all these chal­lenges makes you work harder,” he con­tin­ues. “And if you work harder, hope­fully, you might be suc­cess­ful. But so far, suc­cess has eluded me.”

Con­sid­er­ing all that he’s achieved in the three decades that he’s been a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian, it’s sur­pris­ing that Ho con­sid­ers him­self nei­ther suc­cess­ful nor pop­u­lar. But, to him, the more he plays – which is of­ten, as he per­forms reg­u­larly at the AK Busk Stop in Av­enue K Shop­ping Mall – the more it drives him on to re­alise his am­bi­tions. “As long as there’s breath in my body, I’ll keep go­ing,” Ho states con­fi­dently. “I’ll only give

up when my health fails me. But as long as I can be up and about, I’ll do what I can to achieve suc­cess and I’ll fight to get to where I

want to be – that is, to get wider recog­ni­tion and to play abroad.”

At an age when other men are hap­pily re­tired and hors­ing around with their grand­kids, Ho shows no signs of slow­ing down, let alone hang­ing up his gui­tar. In fact, he’s search­ing for a re­li­able, ca­pa­ble agent who can help him take his mu­sic to the next level. But don’t you worry: he won’t mind if fel­low Malaysians – like you – take the leap of faith like he did to fol­low their dreams. “You must be­lieve in your­self. If you be­lieve that it will be good for you,

why not go for it? More so if peo­ple tell you that you’re good. You just have to try,” Ho says. “But if you don’t suc­ceed, you can’t blame any­body. Life’s like that – some days you’re lucky, some days you’re not. When I got into mu­sic, the climb was very slow – but I never gave up.”

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