Sabah’s rock queen, singer songwriter NADIA ALI, is making a comeback. A new album will be out soon, with two new songs plus 14 tracks from her previous three albums.
Nadia says she is a songwriter first, although she likes performing too.
“I like singing, but I prefer writing; it’s more what I am. Since I was little I was writing. I started writing Malay poems when in primary school. I like to write! When I’m sad, instead of telling my friends I’m sad, I write. I’m always like that. In secondary school, I start writing music into my poems. I play guitar and piano, and I was already writing songs long before I made a recording.”
Last time I saw Nadia, who is my niece, she was still a teenager in school. So how did all this come about?
“It started when I was about 19. I finished my college in Australia, and it was really an accident how I went into singing. I was doing karaoke in KL and somebody approached me to make an album. I thought okay, this is something fun.”
Nadia’s own composition, “Salam Untuk Kekasih“, became a national hit.
“The very first time I heard my first song on the radio, I was in KL. I was in my car alone, driving, and I heard my song on the radio! I didn’t believe it! I was SMILING so much! I don’t care if people are looking at me. I just drive and ENJOY it, I was so happy!
“Even now the radio is still playing that song, I hear it about once a day!”
Nadia has kept a low profile for some ten years, before thinking about hearing her songs on the air again.
“You know, I still have fans from that time, they really made me want to continue writing. So this is a way to say ‘Thank You’, to show my gratitude to my fans who have been with me for all this time.
“I wasn’t thinking about making money, just that it would be nice to hear a song on air again,” she explained. “Then one by one I get this offer and that offer to make a new album. I didn’t plan it to be like this, but I get good feedback, and it made me more serious about this album.
“This new song, I thought of giving it to someone else to sing but then I thought, why not sing myself? Give it a last shot and see how it goes. I would like to write for other people too, but I haven’t tried it yet, even though I get offers.”
Nadia is passionate about her music, and likes to have creative control over her work.
“I’m not signed to any label. I prefer to be independent, because I’m more free this way. I have distributor of course, but I’m not signed to any record company, even though I have offers.”
The two new songs are both love songs. “Buatmu Kekasih” and “Datanglah Padaku”. They are slow, but not that sentimental, she said.
“Last time, I used to write a lot of sad songs. Now I write more happy songs. Maybe I feel happier! (Laughs).
“Normally what I write comes from my soul. It comes naturally. But it’s not always about me or what happens to me; I also take my inspiration from my friends who have been through that experience, something like that.
“I produced the album with my friend Jyan, who is a sound engineer at Tres Seven in KL. He’s also the guitarist in the band Fahrenheit. We talked about making a song and he said he would do the music if I wrote the song. So I write the lyrics and the melody, and he does the instruments, the sound, the mixing.
“I am in Sabah, and he is in KL. So I sing here, and send it by email to him. He does the rest.”
The album should be out soon, although there’s no set date yet.
Music and creativity have been driving forces for Nadia. Now that she’s a mum, does she feel strongly about her children having music in their own lives? Arif is now 8 and Farah is 4.
“I let them be free to choose what they want, lah.” With a puzzled laugh, she adds: “Both my kids are into mathematics! I don’t know why!”
Nadia is managing her motel Timahs, which is in Sipitang. Maybe we’ll pop over there for a visit soon.
Good luck Nadia! I look forward to hearing your creativity for years to come.
Love Aunty J x.