The Citizen (KZN)

Singapore’s concert for dead goes online

- Singapore

– The studio lights dim, the band begins to strum and it’s showtime for a Singapore getai concert – a popular form of entertainm­ent in southeast Asia that features songs, skits and over-the-top costumes to celebrate the dead.

Because of the coronaviru­s, instead of being watched by a live audience of thousands, the performanc­e is taking place in a studio and broadcast over the internet. The livestream is a lifeline for performers like Febe Huang, who earns her living staging getai with her husband across the region.

“When this pandemic hit, there were two or three months where we didn’t have any income at all,” she said.

Getai shows are mainly held during the Hungry Ghost Festival in the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when spirits of the dead are believed to return to wander the Earth. Performers say without the thrill of a live crowd, it’s not quite the same.

“Every year it’s the same feeling – when the Hungry Ghost Festival comes, everyone is very happy. But this year just feels a bit empty,” said Sam Loo, a veteran getai performer with 37 years of experience.

Still, the online performanc­es have proved hugely popular, with some attracting audiences of hundreds of thousands. –

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