Re­mem­ber­ing a le­gend

> To mark the 25th an­niver­sary of the death of renowned en­ter­tainer Sudirman, The Ac­tors Stu­dio will be hold­ing a spe­cial trib­ute con­cert

The Sun (Malaysia) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY BISSME S.

NEXT YEAR will mark 25 years that Sudirman Ar­shad has left us. The mu­sic le­gend was only 37 when he died. The Ac­tors Stu­dio founder Datuk Fari­dah Mer­i­can is set to di­rect a spe­cial trib­ute con­cert next week to mark the oc­ca­sion.

The con­cert, which will take place from Nov 3 to 5 at the Kuala Lumpur Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre, (kl­pac) will be en­ti­tled One Thou­sand Mil­lion Smiles. This is in­spired by the name of the song that won Sudirman the ti­tle of Asia’s top per­former at the 1989 Asian Pop­u­lar Mu­sic Awards held at the Royal Al­bert Hall in Lon­don.

Sudirman ce­mented his rep­u­ta­tion by beat­ing some of the great­est singers from around the re­gion, such as Sin­ga­pore’s Anita Sarawak, Hong Kong’s Les­lie Chung, Ja­pan’s singer-song­writer Epo, and the Philip­pines’ pop diva Kuh Ledesma.

The 90-minute One Thou­sand Mil­lion Smiles con­cert will fea­ture per­for­mances by six lo­cal singers – Aaron Teoh, Amir Hazril Harith, Dasha Lo­gan, Ian Chow, Joel Wong and Tria Aziz, each known for their dy­namic and pow­er­ful vo­cals, much like Sudirman him­self.

They will be singing 20 songs that he made fa­mous, such as Ba­lik Kam­pung, Chow Kit Road, Aku Penghiburmu, Lagu Anak Desa, Lagu Dari Kota, Basikal Tua and Merisik Khabar, among oth­ers.

Part of the pro­ceeds from ticket sales of the Nov 5 per­for­mance will be used to start a Sudirman Schol­ar­ship Fund, which will be of­fered to Malaysians keen on pur­su­ing their dreams of be­com­ing en­ter­tain­ers.

“I have al­ways thought of do­ing some­thing to pay trib­ute to him,” says Fari­dah. “I never got the chance ... till now.” It took Fari­dah and her team months to get the con­cert off the ground. One of the chal­lenges was get­ting per­mis­sion from record­ing com­pa­nies to use his songs.

“I must say that ev­ery­thing went smoothly,” she says.

“I would like to be­lieve that he (Sudirman) is help­ing us from [heaven].”

She ex­plains that the con­cert is to in­tro­duce the younger gen­er­a­tion to Sudirman and his songs, and to take his long-time fans for a walk down mem­ory lane.

The One Thou­sand Mil­lion Smiles con­cert will also fea­ture Sudirman’s nephew, Raz­man Azrai, also known as Atai. He will also be singing a few of his un­cle’s hits.

As a child, Atai had ap­peared along­side his un­cle dur­ing a num­ber of his con­certs and tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances.

Atai is es­pe­cially thrilled that Fari­dah is help­ing to start a schol­ar­ship fund in his un­cle’s name to help as­pir­ing per­form­ers.

“The con­cert is for a good cause and that is why I am tak­ing part in it,” says Atai.

For Fari­dah, the con­cert is her way of honour­ing an iconic in­di­vid­ual.

“I loved the way he han­dled him­self on the stage and the fact that he sang for all Malaysians.”

She cited Sudirman’s fa­mous open air con­cert in Chow Kit Road – which drew a crowd of over 100,000 – as a tes­ta­ment of his love for the coun­try and his fel­low Malaysians.

“It was a great idea to [or­gan­ise] a con­cert like that, and I ask my­self why we [never did] it again,” she says.

“I do not think any­one [can fol­low] in his foot­steps.”

Fari­dah strongly feels that more should be done to re­mem­ber Sudirman. She sug­gests that some­one could pro­duce a mu­si­cal the­atre pro­duc­tion on Sudirman’s life, just like what was done for late singer-direc­tor P.Ram­lee and car­toon­ist Lat. One won­ders what is the se­cret be­hind the time­less­ness of Sudirman’s songs. “In my opin­ion, his songs are still ap­peal­ing be­cause they re­late to our ev­ery­day lives,” Atai says. “Malaysians are still pa­tri­otic. We still re­spect our par­ents and we still cel­e­brate our re­li­gious hol­i­days.” When asked to de­scribe his un­cle, Atai says: “Sudirman was a very hum­ble per­son who was will­ing to sac­ri­fice him­self for oth­ers. “He was bold and brave enough to do things where peo­ple said it would be im­pos­si­ble. “Noth­ing was im­pos­si­ble for him.”

Mu­si­cal trib­ute ... Mem­o­ries of the late Sudirman (right) are still fresh in the minds of Fari­dah (left) and his nephew Atai (be­low).

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