Dis­arm­ing charm

Fauziah Lat­iff with­stands the test of time.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By KEN­NETH CHAW en­ter­tain­ment@ thes­tar. com. my

WHEN Fauziah Lat­iff ’ s sing­ing ca­reer first came call­ing for her, she barely had time to change out of her school uni­form.

Fauziah, or more af­fec­tion­ately known by fans as Gee, re­mem­bers the day her fa­ther took her to see a friend, revered com­poser S. Atan.

“He brought me to him for an au­di­tion. We went to his stu­dio but he wasn’t there. We were told he was or­gan­is­ing a con­cert at ( now- de­funct theme park) Mi­ma­land,” re­mem­bers Gee dur­ing an in­ter­view with Star2.

“So my dad took me to the theme park and he came up to me and went, ‘ So you want to be a singer?’ with those fierce eyes.”

The then 15- year- old stut­tered out a ner­vous, “Y- y- yes.” “He said, ‘ OK, you sing.’” To Gee’s sur­prise, S. Atan wanted her to sing at the con­cert later that night. “So that was my au­di­tion. My first per­for­mance in pub­lic. He wants to watch me on stage. Scary, isn’t it?” she re­calls with a sense of both trep­i­da­tion and fond­ness.

She con­tin­ues: “There was no prepa­ra­tion. I was in my school uni­form. I re­hearsed two songs dur­ing sound­check and right af­ter, I had to go shop­ping for my per­for­mance at night.”

One of the songs she de­liv­ered was Kerna Ter­paksa by Fran­cissca Peter, a singer she ad­mires.

When she is asked how the com­poser re­acted to her per­for­mance, Gee re­sponds: “He didn’t say much. He has lis­tened to thou­sands of great voices. I sup­pose he knew there was some­thing there.”

From that day on, Gee be­gan ac­tively sing­ing in con­certs and TV shows such as live mu­sic pro­gramme Pen­tas Varia on RTM.

A few years later, af­ter wit­ness­ing one of her per­for­mances, Happy Records’ Khoo Chong Teng ap­proached the singer with a record­ing con­tract. She signed with the la­bel af­ter con­sult­ing with her men­tor S. Atan.

Since re­leas­ing her de­but al­bum Digamit Me­mori in 1988, Gee has carved out an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer for her­self, boast­ing 17 al­bums un­der her belt and iconic hits such as Dia and Ter­atai Layu Di Tasik Madu, which won Best Song at the Anugerah Juara Lagu in 1993.

“Life is a cir­cle. The things that you’re do­ing now, some­body else has done that be­fore. Just like those au­di­tion­ing to be­come singers, I was there. I know how they feel. It’s not easy,” says the 45- yearold singer who is also known for her stint as the sweet and ever- en­cour­ag­ing full­time judge on Malaysian Idol in 2005 and 2006.

Gee looks back on her jour­ney so far and is most grate­ful to her late fa­ther who kept her grounded.

“My fa­ther was very par­tic­u­lar when it came to ob­serv­ing pro­to­col. Once, af­ter I fin­ished per­form­ing a show, I just went back­stage to take a breather just for a while,” she re­counts.

“He came back­stage and said, ‘ What are you do­ing out here? There are peo­ple out there want­ing to shake hands with you. Go now, they are wait­ing for you.’”

Af­ter re­leas­ing her last orig­i­nal al­bum Pes­ona in 2006 and ap­pear­ing as a judge on the fifth sea­son of Akademi Fan­ta­sia in 2007, Gee has qui­etened down quite a bit over the years. Her last sin­gle was 2010’ s Ku Di Sini.

“I needed the break for my­self. I’ve been work­ing since I was 15. Just work, work and work. I’m not com­plain­ing. I ap­pre­ci­ate all that has hap­pened to me. But a long break like this is great, and then af­ter a while you get spoilt,” she says with a laugh. “It was a nice break but it’s a bit too long. I feel so sorry for my fans.”

Gee adds although she went on a break, she has been per­form­ing from time to time: “I still sing at a lot of cor­po­rate shows. Maybe on the media side, I’m a bit silent. I didn’t have sin­gles or any­thing ( to pro­mote). There were no sto­ries. I’d rather give the ( pub­lic­ity) to new singers and sup­port them.”

To­day, she def­i­nitely has some­thing to talk about, hav­ing re­leased her first sin­gle in six years, Takdir Cinta, re­cently.

“It’s not just about ro­man­tic love. Love is a big sub­ject. It can ap­ply to any kind of re­la­tion­ship – your re­la­tion­ships with fam­ily or friends. That’s the beauty of it,” she ex­plains the song’s mes­sage.

Asked if she sees the new sin­gle as her come­back, she calls it “a gift to my fans” in­stead.

Gee says there are plans for an­other sin­gle and she is still in dis­cus­sion with her la­bel, Univer­sal Mu­sic, on re­leas­ing a new al­bum.

Be­sides her ca­reer, the singer also touched on her per­sonal life.

It’s hard to be­lieve the gen­tle, soft- spo­ken Gee rides high- per­for­mance mo­tor­cy­cles in her free time. “It gives me a sense of free­dom,” she en­thuses.

“I’ve al­ways loved big bikes since I was young but I was never able to do it be­cause I was al­ways busy.”

Gee also opened up about her di­vorce from busi­ness­man Jo­han In­dot, with whom she has two sons, back in 2007.

“It wasn’t easy in the be­gin­ning, but it turned out OK. You can’t be mis­er­able your whole life. You have to move on,” she shares about the painful ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I be­lieve if you’re in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, there are other peo­ple who are in even more dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions and have no one help­ing them. You’re still ( stand­ing) in good shoes. God is still there for you. You just have to open your eyes and think pos­i­tive.”

Ru­mours have been buzzing for two years now that Gee has found love again and will be ty­ing the knot.

“I’m get­ting to know this per­son,” she says coyly. “I’m just tak­ing things easy. There’s no rush. When things hap­pen, it’ll hap­pen. I’m at peace.”

photo: rAy­mONd OOI/ The star

Photo: RAY­MOND OOI/ The Star Out­fit: Khairi Sufi Hair and make- up: Epie Te­mer­loh Stylist: Shah­naz Ba­har Cover photo: Out­fit by Adira Long

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