Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kartina Dahari - Kroncong Diva/Biduanita Negara Singapura

A few days ago someone mentioned that my evergreen favourite singer Kartina Dahari was not well. I hope she is alright and is well-taken care of, where ever she is today. I read some time back when she was invited to join another veteran singer Ahmad Jais to do a concert at Istana Budaya, she was not able to accept as she was living in London with her son.

I have for a long time been wishing that the Malay LPs she recorded under the name TINA in the late 60s and early 70s would be reissued in CD formats. I have all of them in LPs and cassettes but what use are they in today's digital world. In the late 80s there was a compilation CD titled KRONCONG RINDU with 12 of her mostly kroncong songs from two of the LPs, hardly enough to satisfy her die-hard fans. I am happy to say that since last year all her three Malay LPs are now available in CDs.

Kartina Dahari is a class of her own. At the height of her recording career in the sixties and 70s her voice was mellifluous and her singing style unmatched for its perfection. On top of that she was a stunning beauty with a dignified elegance. She was the first Malay singer to record English songs, coming up with two singles, four EPs and two LPs. I had them all but with all my moving around various corners of the world I must have misplaced and totally lost most the them.

She also recorded a number of singles and EPs and three LPs in Malay. Her forte was really kroncong and she also had a penchant for singing traditional and folksy songs. She had this wonderful and unique way of turning normal songs into keroncong (though some would say it was not really kroncong but STAMBOL). Whatever it was, the results were always so refreshing and often even better than the original (for eg: Ahmad Jais's jazzy SEJAK KITA BERPISAH, Zubir Said's SAYANG DI SAYANG and the evergreen classic RINDU which she first recorded in a pop soul beat for a 1969 EP and then as a kroncong in her 1973 LP).

From the 60s to the 80s she appeared regularly in Singapore's RTS Malay musical programmes, often hosting them. She collaborated extremely well with Singapore's music maestro Allahyarham Ahmad Jaafar. During the 60s she teamed up with Ahmad Daud, Alina Rahman and Rahim Hamid in RTS's popular weekly musical 'Kalung Senandung'. Her other regular singing partner was Julie Sudiro. I particularly remember her being honoured by RTM with her own weekly musical programme TINA when RTM began it's transmission in the very early 60s.

After recording her last LP 'Senandung Lagu Lama' in 1976, which is an excellent album in the variety and choice of songs as well as the superb musical arrangements, she decided to completely stop recording, which was really a pity and a sad loss. I remember meeting her once at Angkasapuri and asking her why she had decided to stop recording and she just graciously laughed it off. Being abroad most of the timeafter that, I hardly hear of her but I was glad to have all her LPs, which travelled with me all over the word.
Young singers today (why do they all sound alike and sing through their noses?) should perhaps emulate her her singing style. She was really a 'Lady of Songs', one of a kind.

Here's video tribute to her, JAUH TINGGI DI AWAN, my all time favourite song by her - simple but poignant, evocative and haunting, as only she could deliver in a song......

God bless and keep you Biduanita Kartina Dahari.

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For more video clips of Kartina Dahari's songs please go to YouTube and click on to "lukisanperasaan" channel.

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5 Jan 2009 - My latest video: Kartina Dahari's most popular song/biggest hit "Sayang Di Sayang" recorded in 1969.
1/04/09 - On 28 Feb 2009 Kartina Dahari was presented with a LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, The Perdana Emas, by the President of the Republic of Singapore. Congratulations and very apt indeed. She is now effectively Singapore's BIDUANITA NEGARA!

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