Fauziah Latiff withstands the test of time.
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