Thursday, January 31, 2008


Blind musicians to launch debut album


As a street musician plying his trade in the city, Des has never thought that he would one day have an album to his name. An avid fan of rock ever since he first discovered music in his primary school years, he eventually turned his passion into a profession, becoming a regular fixture at the weekly Gaya Street fair on Sundays. Des, who goes by one name, however, had to make his career choice based on necessity, after he lost both sights when he was a boy. “I used to be able to see, but then I had a blackout in the 1980s,” he said when met at a press conference to announce the launch of the debut album for blind performing troupe Seniman Penglipur Lara (SPL), of which he is a member. The lack of sight, however, did not take away the 39-year-old’s enthusiasm for music and life or dashing his dreams of meeting his musical hero, nationally-renowned composer A. Ali. “He’s a big name in Malaysia and when I could still see, I only saw his face on an album cover and posters I’ve dreamt of meeting him and today I shook his hand and exchanged greetings with him,” he said. A. Ali is one of the two composers engaged to produce the album, which is a joint effort between his production company Karya Cipta A. Ali, Tanjung Puri Sdn Bhd and City Hall, which brought the SPL into being two years ago. The other composer is Ampuan Zainuddin Sulaiman. The album will feature four of the seven members of the SPL, which is the brainchild of Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim, singing some 20 songs including a “killer song” which Ali said he would pen himself. “This will be the first album produced by our studio here and I have composed about half of the songs selected. The songs will all be music that the artists can sing on the street ... we are just giving it a touch of quality in the recording. “Blind people are just like everyone else, they need income and I am very proud to have the opportunity to compose and produce this album. “I have to admit that it will be a bit different from my usual work because I will include Bajau and Kadazan songs aside from Malay songs,” said the 59-year-old music industry veteran. City Hall Research and Coordination Division director Mario Ngasio said the album project is part of their sustainable development plan under their Local Agenda 21 (LA21). “The LA21 focusses on solving social, economic and environmental problems in the city and the album launch is geared towards the social aspect of the plan, which includes poverty eradication. “Two years ago, we went around the city and found no less than 10 people begging on the streets. A few of them had musical talent so the Mayor decided to bring them together and play music. “We have given them training and also around RM5,000 worth of equipment, courtesy of Music Mart and they are now playing at various venues around the city such as the City Park, Cocoon and Gaya Street. “Now we have the opportunity to help them record an album and this is part of our long-term process in sustainable development. Sustainable development is not only for buildings, people also need development,” he said. While no exact date has been set for the album launch, it is expected to be done at a gala event sometime this March and to be officiated by Iliyas.