Siti Nurhal­iza’s English al­bum

Malaysian su­per­star datuk Siti Nurhal­iza dips her toe in un­char­tered wa­ters with her first full english al­bum, al­ly­ourlove.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By FIONA HO fiona@thes­tar.com.my

There is no deny­ing the phe­nom­e­nal star power of Datuk Siti Nurhal­iza, who has re­mained a staunch pres­ence in the lo­cal mu­sic in­dus­try through­out her 16-year ca­reer.

In­deed, the singer who is known for her girl­ish charm and sac­cha­rine per­sona had only to flash a smile to whip on­look­ers into a ma­ni­a­cal frenzy as she de­scended from a bub­ble lift at Shook restau­rant in Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, on a re­cent Mon­day evening.

Clearly, Siti is no stranger to the at­ten­tion. Fill­ing the room with her ro­bust vo­cals, she took in the crowd’s fer­vour with the poise and grace pos­sessed only by the most ex­pe­ri­enced of en­ter­tain­ers.

If any­thing, the blithe singer with the candy-laced charisma marks the true mea­sure of Malaysian celebrity. Plus, in an age of dis­pens­able pop singers who typ­i­cally look bet­ter than they sound, Siti is a rare gem.

To date, she is still the na­tion’s best-sell­ing artiste and is the proud owner of over 200 lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional awards. The pop star is also said to be worth over rM50mil.

Not bad for some­one who used to help her fam­ily sell kuih in her home­town of Kuala Lipis, Pahang.

her ap­ti­tude for mu­sic was ev­i­dent even at the ten­der age of 12. It prob­a­bly helped that she was born into a mu­si­cally-in­clined fam­ily – her mother was a fa­mous tra­di­tional singer while her grand­fa­ther was a renowned vi­o­lin­ist. her brother, Bahri Tarudin, and her sis­ters Siti Nor­saida and Siti Saerah are also singers. To­gether, the fam­ily band would per­form at gath­er­ings such as wed­dings in her home­town.

The would-be su­per­star went on to par­tic­i­pate in nu­mer­ous singing con­tests be­fore hit­ting the jack­pot when she won the 1995 RTM Bin­tang HMI com­pe­ti­tion at age 16. The fol­low­ing year, the up-and-com­ing singer tore up the charts with her self-ti­tled de­but al­bum. every­thing she touched turned gold from then on. In 1996, her sin­gle, Jerat Percin­taan (Love’s Trap) from her de­but al­bum, clinched a win at the 11th Anugerah Juara Lagu. That same year, she also took home the Most Pop­u­lar Tele­vi­sion en­ter­tainer, Most Pop­u­lar Fe­male Singer, Most Pop­u­lar Teen Artiste and Most Pop­u­lar Star awards at the Anugerah Bin­tang Pop­u­lar.

There was no stop­ping the young singer from her heady ca­reer rise. She would later be­come the only artiste in the coun­try to have won 34 Anugerah In­dus­tri Muzik awards, 22 Anugerah Bin­tang Pop­u­lar awards, 21 Anugerah Planet Muzik awards and 18 Anugerah Juara Lagu awards and four MTV Asia awards.

In 2005, she was listed by MTV Asia as Asia’s Best Mu­si­cal Artiste and also as Chan­nel V’s Big­gest Asian Artiste. In 2008, the Asia News Net­work listed the star as one of Asia’s Idols.

In be­tween mak­ing mu­sic and at­tend­ing count­less award shows, Siti even found time for ro­mance and tied the knot with busi­ness­man Datuk Khalid Mo­hamad Jiwa, pop­u­larly known as Datuk K, in 2006.

Last year, she launched her cos­metic range, Sim­plySiti, which has been named the Best halal Prod­uct by the Halal Jour­nal Mag­a­zine and the Most Promis­ing Brand in 2010 by the Brand Lau­re­ate.

She is also a tough cookie – last June, the pop queen took on the role of celebrity re­servist in the Ter­ri­to­rial Army as part of a vol­un­teer pro­gramme launched by the De­fence Min­istry.

The star, who is re­quired to com­plete 39 hours of train­ing within a year be­fore be­ing com­mis­sioned as a ju­nior of­fi­cer, says she looks for­ward to the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It will cer­tainly toughen me up, both phys­i­cally and men­tally.”

At 32 and in spite of her mam­moth suc­cesses, the fresh-faced beauty still sparkles with child­like ef­fer­ves­cence. Though in place of her quin­tes­sen­tial ke­baya-clad im­age, the singer rocked a more modern look with a fit­ted red blouse and black fe­dora dur­ing her brief per­for­mance that Mon­day evening.

For a mo­ment, I even thought she was chan­nelling the sassier (and sex­ier) Mizz Nina as she burst into a highly-charged ren­di­tion of her lat­est english sin­gle, Fall­ing In Love.

Yes, you read right. Af­ter 13 su­per-suc­cess­ful al­bums in Malay, Siti is fi­nally ready to ven­ture into brand new ter­ri­tory with her first full english al­bum, All Your Love.

Pro­duced by What’s Up en­ter­tain­ment, which is fronted by her 21-year-old step­son, Adib Khalid, the al­bum fea­tures 10 tracks that aim to pro­pel the artiste into in­ter­na­tional star­dom.

While it seems like a daunt­ing task for the singer with a rock-solid Malay fan base, she says record­ing an al­bum in english has al­ways been her dream.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to pro­duce an english al­bum but I just never had the time. So when Adib sug­gested that we do an english al­bum to­gether, I im­me­di­ately agreed. he’d ar­ranged every­thing and he had so many ideas. It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with him,” Siti tells the me­dia in an in­ter­view af­ter­wards.

“The ti­tle of the al­bum is ded­i­cated to all my fans, my fam­ily and friends who have been so sup­port­ive of me over the years. I want to make them proud by pro­duc­ing an al­bum that could po­ten­tially break into the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.”

her most am­bi­tious ef­fort yet, All Your Love was writ­ten and pro­duced al­most en­tirely by Aus­tralians r&B singer Chris­tian Alexanda and com­poser-pro­ducer Bryan Bouro. The tracks were mixed and mas­tered in var­i­ous stu­dios, in­clud­ing mix­haus stu­dios and Oa­sis Mas­ter­ing in the United States, and Whyte­hype Stu­dios in Perth, Aus­tralia.

She calls the record a hip, cur­rent af­fair with poppy dance tracks.

On the up­tempo sin­gle, Re­mem­ber You, she col­lab­o­rated with Ja­maican-Amer­i­can singer Sean Kingston (of Beau­ti­ful Girls fame). The record also fea­tures the sounds of sea­soned sound-mix­ing en­gi­neer richard Furch, who

has worked with the likes of Prince, Usher and Whit­ney Hous­ton, and mas­ter­ing en­gi­neer Ed­die Schreyer, who is known for his work with Lady Gaga and Kanye West, among oth­ers.

But you would be sorely mis­taken if you think that the singer is ready to aban­don her con­ser­va­tive roots in pur­suit of in­ter­na­tional fame. The singer, who fa­mously (or in­fa­mously) re­fuses to wear re­veal­ing clothes or even pose with male artistes for mag­a­zine cov­ers, in­sists on re­tain­ing that Malaysian flavour that has per­vaded her mu­sic.

“I don’t think it’s nec­es­sary to change my sound or my ways. Just look at Shakira (from Colom­bia) and Ce­line Dion (from Canada). They took the unique sounds of their home­land to a global plat­form.”

“Take Shakira for in­stance – she sounds dif­fer­ent from most Amer­i­can singers and so do I, in terms of my ac­cent. But I don’t think I have to change that as I want to in­tro­duce Malaysia to the world,” Siti tells us with a smile.

That said, the singer isn’t too proud to ad­mit to the chal­lenges that en­tailed in the mak­ing of her English al­bum. “Singing in Ba­hasa Malaysia is sec­ond na­ture for me, but singing in English is some­thing en­tirely dif­fer- ent. I had to get out of my com­fort zone.”

The record also marked her first col­lab­o­ra­tion with a non-Malaysian pro­ducer. “There was a lot to get used to. Most lo­cal pro­duc­ers are fa­mil­iar with my style but, of course, that’s not the case with Bryan,” Siti re­veals.

Bouro had mon­i­tored her English pro­nun­ci­a­tion through­out the record­ing process while main­tain­ing her “Voice of Asia” iden­tity.

“I’ve had no prob­lems un­der­stand­ing what to do with the melodies, but I did need help with my pro­nun­ci­a­tion on a few oc­ca­sions and that was where Bryan stepped in,” she ex­plains.

The con­ge­nial singer adds: “I don’t want to think too much about how to sing or pro­nounce the English lyrics be­cause I’m Asian. What is most im­por­tant is that my pro­nun­ci­a­tion is clear and the mes­sages of my songs get through.”

Fall­ing In Love, the first sin­gle off the record, has been met with en­cour­ag­ing re­sponse since its July re­lease, Siti shares. “I have gained new fans and I’ve been re­ceiv­ing lots of pos­i­tive com­ments from my Chi­nese and In­dian lis­ten­ers on Twit­ter. They’ve been telling me they re­ally like my new sin­gle.”

Spread­ing her wings: the na­tion’s best-sell­ing artiste datuk Siti Nurhal­iza at the launch of her first english al­bum al­ly­ourLove in Kuala Lumpur. – Shaari chemat / the Star

Tough cookie: Siti (front row, cen­tre) tak­ing part in the first day of train­ing of the askar Wata­niah celebrity pla­toon at Kem re­ji­men 515 askar Wata­niah in Jalan Se­marak, Kuala Lumpur. (in­set) ad­dress­ing fans on air at Suria FM re­cently.

a fresh­faced Siti pos­ing for

theS­tar in a back lane in ta­man con­naught in cheras, Kuala Lumpur, in 1997.

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