Friends, artistes mourn Kak Pah

by Dennis Chua  (New Sunday Times – 6 July 2014)

KUALA LUMPUR:  DATUK Sharifah Aini Syed Jaafar, who died after a two-year battle with lung fibrosis at 61 yesterday, will be remembered as Malaysia’s first lady of song.  Such were the tributes of entertainers and music producers who befriended and collaborated with the singing legend throughout her career.

Producer and Malaysian Music Council chairman Datuk Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar said Sharifah Aini’s passing marked the end of an era for Malaysian music and described her as a national treasure.  He said her legend would live on through her songs that spanned traditional and modern pop genres.

“She was my collaborator during the 1980s when Showmasters organised concerts and roadshows.  Working with her was a joy, as she was professional, respectful, punctual, confident and gifted."

Aziz said there would never be another like Sharifah Aini, for she was a national treasure.  "Like Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Datuk Sudirman Arshad, she is a Malaysian icon and her legend lives forever."

He described Sharifah Aini as a perfectionist when it came to giving a great show.  "She had a fantastic memory, mixed with fans from all over and treated everybody as a friend.  Over the years, she kept in touch with friends and fans, and that’s the mark of a true entertainer."

He said her songs captivated fans from Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, making her an international superstar and exemplifying the Malaysia Boleh spirit.  "While we grieve, we’re comforted that she left with joy and was close to her loved ones.  She kept abreast with the country’s new talents and supported them."

Aziz said every Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Sharifah Aini’s songs would be heard, a testament to her perfectionism and heartfelt singing.  Raya will never be the same without her.”

Veteran singer Datuk DJ Dave remembered that Sharifah Aini came into the industry two years before him and they collaborated in shows, such as Dewi Puspa and Hiburan Minggu Ini.  "It was a joy to sing with her as she was humble, committed, generous and, above all, optimistic and friendly.

"We last met three weeks ago at her home.  Despite being ill, she was her bubbly self and we shared lots of fond memories.  She was a star of many talents and knowledgeable about entertainment.”

He described Sharifah Aini as a fantastic culinary specialist when it came to traditional Malaysian fare.  "I was supposed to visit her again this week, but sadly, she left us.”

He said Sharifah Aini was strong-willed and passionate, lived life to the fullest, cared and befriended all Malaysians.  "She personified the Malaysian spirit in her superb entertaining ways and her generosity of spirit.”

Malaysian Artistes’ Association (Karyawan) president Datuk Freddie Fernandez described the death of Sharifah Aini as a sad loss.  Fernandez’s fellow musicians from the 1970s band The Revolvers used to back up her shows.

“We visited her three months ago and she was in great spirits as she always is.  She faced illness with fortitude and was hopeful till the end.  Many new artistes look up to her as a mentor, as she gave full support to new talents.”

Fernandez said Sharifah Aini’s success in releasing more than 100 albums was an unsurpassed feat for a Malaysian entertainer, and her ability to entertain people from all walks of life made her 'the people’s entertainer' like Sudirman and Ramlee Sarip.

"My Voice is Borrowed from God"

KUALA LUMPUR: Born in Johor Baru on July 2, 1953, Sharifah Aini, who grew up in Kampung Majidee, took to singing at SM Sultan Ismail and performed at school concerts.

Her career began when she won the Radio Television Singapore (RTS, now Mediacorp) annual talent search Bintang RTS in 1968.  A year later, she launched her first album Seri Dewi Malam.

The singer had 100 albums, including eight in English.  These include Kekasih PujaanPermintaan TerakhirDari Hati Ke HatiForever and Ever and Women in Love.

Besides singing in Bahasa Malaysia and English, she also sang in Arabic.

In 1976, Sharifah Aini sang her most famous duet, Seiring dan Sejalan, with the late Indonesian crooner, Broery Marantika.

In 2003, Sharifah Aini received her datukship from the 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail for her contributions to the Malaysian arts.

Her numerous accolades in show business include Best Entertainer at Anugerah Seri Angkasa from 1972 to 1977, Best Female Singer from 1970 to 1976 and 1979, Anugerah Seri Wirama 2000 (in Anugerah Industri Muzik) and a special award in Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian 2003.

In 2006, she was named Biduanita Negara by the Information Ministry.  She won Best Actress in the Asia-Pacific Film Festival 1977 for her role in Hapuslah Air Matamu.

She also performed in many fund-raising events for schools.

In a 2010 interview, she said: "All that I want is to be blessed with good health, so I can continue to serve my fans and contribute to the needy.

"I’ve had enough of the glitz and limelight.  My voice is only borrowed from God."

Veteran singer Zainal Abidin remembered when Sharifah Aini sang in his house in Johor Baru with his uncle’s pop band.  "I grew up listening to her music and we had been in many shows together.  I regarded her as a trailblazer in Malaysian music, and respected her for her humility, knowledge, voice and perfectionism.  He described Sharifah Aini as a soulful singer who was 'big hearted'.

“She was an icon loved by all and we’re all going to miss her.  She leaves a legacy of brilliant musicianship and high standards.”

Actor, singer and businessman Datuk Raja Rezza Shah said he was saddened by Sharifah Aini’s death as they had been 'soul mates' for four decades.  "I first saw her sing in my hometown, Kota Baru, and instantly fell in love with her voice.  Later, I managed her for a couple of years in the 1980s.

"She was always a gem who befriended people with ease.  We shared lots of laughter and tears for she was like an elder sister to me.”

Raja Rezza collected her albums and memorised her songs to the extent that his family members and close pals called him 'Syed', implying that he was her cousin or brother. 

"Kak Pah (Sharifah Aini’s pet name) was a great storyteller who told amazing anecdotes to fans.  In my Ramadan album Pedoman, I paid tribute to her music by including her songs as my cover versions."

He said Sharifah was a good actress, who was commendable in the 1970s television drama Sesat, the film Hapuslah Air Matamu and the play Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur.  "We both had a passion for fashion.  She was also deeply religious and spiritual.  Of all our entertainers, there are only two whom I can describe as divas par excellence, Kak Pah and Anita Sarawak.”

Singer, actor and composer Datuk M. Nasir said he cherished the moments spent with Sharifah Aini.  Not only did they appear on the same stage, he also produced her albums and sang in some of her songs.

"She is the benchmark of a true professional, easy to work with and full of passion.  Her passing is a great loss to the nation, but her legacy will live on.”

Veteran singer Datuk Khadijah Ibrahim described Sharifah Aini as a dear friend, who always gave her moral support in her career.  "She personified the best of Malaysian music."

Istana Budaya director-general Datuk Juhari Shaarani said Sharifah Aini was the first female artiste to have a major concert at the national theatre, Konsert Simfoni Ghazal in 2003 and Konsert Arabia in 2007.  "She had always been a dear friend to the theatre, and her golden voice belies her golden heart. I’m really sad that she’s gone.”

A month before her death, Sharifah Aini posted a message on her Facebook page: “All of us don’t know when our time comes, the same it is with me.  Dearest friends and fans, I love you all and thank you for your support, prayers and kind thoughts.”

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