A rosy ca­reer

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ -

DOES the ever- smil­ing, al­ways poised ( and po­lite) Datuk Siti Nurhal­iza ever get an­gry?

“Peo­ple al­ways ask when can they see Siti an­gry? There’s only one thing that makes her, well, not an­gry, but tegas ( strict),” re­veals Rozi Ab­dul Razak.

“She doesn’t like last- minute work. If you for­get to in­form her on some­thing about ( work) un­til the very last minute, she’ll be a bit strict. She likes to know what she has to do in ad­vance.”

Truly, few peo­ple could say they un­der­stand Siti bet­ter than her man­ager and per­sonal as­sis­stant of 17 years, Rozi.

The 42- year- old, who is also Siti’s sis­ter- in- law, has known her since the singer was 12 as they went to the same school to­gether in Kuala Lipis, Pa­hang. “We’re like sis­ters,” she says.

Rozi, who is five years older than Siti, headed first to Kuala Lumpur and started her ca­reer here as a reporter.

When Siti took her first steps into the mu­sic in­dus­try, beg gin­ning with an au­di­tion for singing com­pe­ti­tion

Bin­tang HMI in 1995, Rozi and Siti’s older brother Saiful Bahri Tarudin worked be­hind the scenes un­til she started es­tab­lish­ing her­self as a record­ing artiste.

Rozi, who was still work­ing as a jour­nal­ist then, left

Utu­san Malaysia in 1999 and fully com­mit­ted her­self to the songstress’ ca­reer.

“When I got mar­ried to Siti’s brother, I made the de­ci­sion to help with her ca­reer se­ri­ously,” she shares.

“I felt a sense of re­spon- sibil­ity. She is a part of my fam­ily and with a back­ground in jour­nal­ism and be­ing able to do pub­lic re­la­tions work, I could help her ca­reer.”

She adds that Siti’s fam­ily was also more at ease know­ing that a fam­ily mem­ber was tak­ing care of her.

To­day, Siti is Malaysia’s No. 1 singer and has won count­less lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional awards, and part of that suc­cess must have some­thing to do with Rozi, I tell her.

“I don’t know about that,” she brushes off the com­pli­ment. “Siti is very hard­work­ing and very ea­ger. If the artistes don’t want to work, I can’t force them.” She re­veals Siti has never once missed a dis­cus­sion she’s in­volved in.

Asked what mis­con­cep­tions peo­ple may have about her job, Rozi re­sponds: “Many peo­ple think that an artiste man­ager’s ca­reer is very glam­orous. There isn’t much work that goes into it as we seem to just ac­com­pany the artiste wher­ever they go and get to be a part of th­ese glam­orous events.”

A man­ager has a big role to play in an artiste’s ca­reer. For in­stance, when it comes to pro­duc­ing an al­bum, Rozi ex­plains she puts out re­quests to com­posers six months in ad­vance and com­piles them for Siti to lis­ten, pro­poses the con­cepts of the al­bum’s cover, sug­gests out­fits for pho­to­shoots, and that’s just the tip of the ice­berg. Es­sen­tially, she over­sees the cre­ation of the

al­bum from be­gin­ning to end.

Her work­ing hours vary each day. There have been times Rozi left for work as early as 4.30am and re­turned home only at 2am.

“Some­times, even af­ter an artiste has gone home to rest, as a man­ager, there’s a lot more that I have to do,” she says. At times, she doesn’t get her week­ends off too, de­pend­ing on Siti’s work. And she has worked for four months straight with­out a hol­i­day.

While she has no for­mal education in mu­sic, Rozi says: “With the man­age­ment skills I have de­vel­oped and work­ing with pro­duc­tion houses over the years and do­ing a lit­tle writ­ing here and there, th­ese are the skills that are needed for me to work at Siti Nurhal­iza Pro­duc­tions ( the singer’s pro­duc­tion com­pany).”

Speak­ing of writ­ing, Rozi wrote the emo­tional bal­lad, Jaga Dia

Un­tukku, which earned a nom­i­na­tion for Best Pop Song in the Anugerah In­dus­tri Muzik re­cently. She also came up with al­most all of Siti’s al­bum ti­tles.

Apart from mu­sic, the life of a singer or any pub­lic fig­ure is not with­out its share of gos­sip. So how does a man­ager han­dle news like this?

Most re­cently, ru­mours of Siti’s preg­nancy be­gan to swirl last Novem­ber. “Al­though at that time ev­ery­one wanted to hear from her as the ru­mours were in the pa­pers, she didn’t say any­thing – that was some­thing we dis­cussed to­gether.”

A month later, the singer con­firmed she was in­deed preg­nant but had a mis­car­riage.

“We had a strat­egy, af­ter get­ting back from the hos­pi­tal, when she was feel­ing more calm, she up­loaded the news her­self on In­sta­gram. I ad­vised Siti that ev­ery­thing about the mat­ter must come from her mouth.”

Rozi, who was in­un­dated with phone calls and mes­sages, also got the singer to pre­pare a stan­dard quote for the me­dia af­ter the news broke.

“You must dis­cuss with one an­other when it comes to im­por­tant mat­ters. You must know the pros and cons, think about the con- se­quences and choose the best so­lu­tion.”

Come April 1, Siti will be cel­e­brat­ing two decades in the mu­sic in­dus­try and she’s still at the top of her game.

“I’m happy that Siti has re­mained in the in­dus­try for 20 years now and it’s a very sweet thing be­cause we started from the bot­tom.”

Photo: MuhAMAd shAhrIL rOsLI/ The star

rozi ( right) gave up her job as a jour­nal­ist to man­age siti’s ca­reer in 1999. — rAy­MONd OOI/ The star

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