Shila Amzah to record in China

Shila Amzah to record in China

Not many people know this but Shila Amzah almost pulled out of Asian Wave 2012 two months before the competition.

The reason? She though the audience would not be receptive towards her wearing a tudung.

As it turned out, Shila had nothing to be worried about.

Performers & Artistes Rights (M) Sdn Bhd (PRISM) general manager Ong Peng Chu, who was instrumental in getting her into the competition, convinced her to stay on.

"He told me that the audience would be more interested in my singing and not my hair. He assured me that it would be all right so, I went ahead," said Shila when met recently at Starhill Kuala Lumpur.

Still, when she made it to the finals, the organiser requested that she remove here tudung.

"They said since I had been wearing the scarf throughout the preliminaries and semi finals, it would be nice to see me without my tudung.

However, after explaining to them that I wear the tudung for religious reasons, they understood and allowed me to continue," she said, adding that she was prepared to withdraw if the organiser had insisted that she remove her scarf.

The competition, held in Shanghai, drew 15 established contestants, including several recording artistes from Australia, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Kazakhstan and host country China.

Shila readily admitted that when she took part, she did not expect to get that far, especially when the local Chinese media there had predicted local star Chang Shilei as the winner.

"My dad advised me not to treat it like a competition so when I performed I was focussed on entertaining the crowd," said Shila, whose real name is Nur Shahila Amir Hamzah.

The daughter of popular singer N.D.Lala performed five songs, including Set Fire To The Rain by Adele and Wang Lee Hom's Forever Love in the preliminaries.

For the finals, she performed three songs - Jaclyn Victor's Gemilang and Grenade by Bruno Mars. It was the final song, Zheng Fu, made popular by Na Ying that got the judges, the host and the audience literally on their feet.

Some of the judges, like Cantopop superstar Alan Tam, Malaysian-born singer Eric Moo and celebrated Chinese composer Gao Xiaosong, praised her performance, saying that she gave them goosebumps.

After watching her perform Zheng Fu on YouTube, which had garnered more than a million viewers, I had goosebumps myself. I have no idea what the lyrics means but I found myself watching it countless times.

Other judges were Japan's bossa nova queen Lisa Ono, K- pop star Lee Min-woo and Hong Kong celebrity Hacken Lee.

"The song Zheng Fu means (to) conquer. It was suggested by Peng Chu and supported by my dad. I rehearsed for about a month to make sure that my pronunciation was spot-on," said Shila, who attended Chinese school up to Standard Two.

After emerging the champion, Shila spent a few days in Shanghai. She was surprised when people approached her on the streets.

"They recognised me because of the competition and my tudung. I was surprised by their gesture," said Shila, who bought more than 30 new scarves in Shanghai.

Since Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not allowed in China, Shila's Chinese friends in Malaysia had uploaded her old videos (pre-tudung) on Youku, a Chinese version of YouTube.

"When they saw my old videos, they commented that I look pretty without scarf but better with it," said Shila. Indeed, her Chinese fans in Shanghai have begun to style themselves with scarf a'la Shila.

The prize money of RM5 million will be shared among the top three winners, including first runner-up Chang Shilei and second runner-up Hou Jun. She added that the money, which is sponsored by Shanghai Media Group (SME), would be used to help mould her into a popular Asian act through recording albums, promotions and stage performances.

Shila will be alternating her base between Kuala Lumpur and China to record her first Mandarin album soon.

"It will include the songs I sang in Shanghai, including Patah Seribu, which has been translated into Mandarin."

Shila said SME had heard about her recent win at Anugerah Industri Muzik where she had bagged the Best Song award for Patah Seribu which she composed, wrote the lyrics and performed herself.

She has also been invited by Eric Moo to open his concert in China.

Shila also had a successful stint last week where she performing to a high-end crowd at an event billed "A Journey Through Time" organised by Starhill Gallery.

Shila was 7 when she sang on television for the first time. But she was not alone. Her famous father, who was popular in the 1970's was her duet partner. With her parents' support, Shila slowly honed her singing skills, performing at weddings and events.

She had entered many singing competitions throughout her teenage years and came closest to winning one when she emerged first runner-up at 8TV's One In A Million in 2008.

Like the late Sudirman who wowed audience in London at the prestigious Salem Music Awards once told me: "It pays to be patient." ~nst


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