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New Straits Times


14 December, 2018


#Showbiz: Terrific twist to timeless tunes!


by Dennis Chua


TARAKUCHA!, the big band with a retro Malay twist, gave an audience of more than 500 two hours of nostalgia recently, delivering songs from the 1950s to 1980s. This evening showcase, Marilah Menari, was its second major performance here and held at The Platform.


With the suave Sean Ghazi and sultry Ida Mariana as lead singers, Tarakucha! also fielded pianist and music director Nish Tham, bassist Amar Azalan, drummer Derrick Siow, percussionist Abdul Karim Zafiruddin, guitarist Wan Gigi, saxophonist Farid Izwan, trombonist Hanif Hamid, trumpeter Ikhman Zakaria, violinists Charmaine Lai and Wong Lu Ee, violist Joanne Aw, cellist Ershad Azalan and back-up singers Maya Tan, Ruzana Ibrahim and Izlyn Ramli.


The 17-member band delivered 22 well-loved songs, mostly in English and Bahasa Malaysia, with the occasional sprinkling of Tamil and Spanish lyrics.


And throughout the show which began at 8.45pm, lead singers Sean and Ida engaged in witty banter with the audience and related each song’s back story.


Looking stylish in his trademark black suit and tie, and “tycoon” glasses, Sean began the evening with an interesting merger of Nona Asiah’s Marilah Menari and Frank Sinatra’s Come Dance With Me. He made a fluid transition from one song to the other, and reasoned that both celebrated the joys of having a good time. “They capture the spirit of this evening, so all of us in Tarakucha! encourage you to get on your feet if you really feel like dancing!” he said,” he announced. Sean then paid tribute to one of his favourite singers, Indonesian legend Anneke Gronloh, who died recently; she had enjoyed an illustrious career spanning five decades. Promising more than one song by the “grand dame of Indonesian song”, he gave fans Rambut Hitam Mata Galak, which pays tribute to the exotic beauties of Southeast Asia.


Sean then shared two songs from his 2006 album Semalam, which earned him an Anugerah Industri Muzik award for Best New Artiste. First was Ku Impikan Bintang, on nurturing a dream and working hard for it. It is actually a Malay rendition of Pink Martini's Let's Never Stop Falling In Love.


The second was the title track, his personal reflection of the “old Malaysia”, when life was simpler and true friendships forged.


Sean then introduced Ida, who collaborated with him in a cover version of Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s and Puan Sri Saloma’s duet Gelora two years ago. Looking stunning in an indigo dress, Ida joined Sean singing Lou Rawls’ You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine, before delivering Ramlee’s Bila Larut Malam from Labu Dan Labi.


It was here that Ida introduced their back-up singers, also known as the Kuchettes, and when they chirped “tarakucha, tarakucha, tarakucha!” before and after the chorus, they unwittingly revealed the origin of the big band’s catchy name.


Sean, 49, and Ida, 46, subsequently went to Kollywood with the Tamil song Paatu Padava by A.M. Rajan, from his 1961 romantic film Then Nilavu. They revealed that it was “not easy” mastering the language, but chose to sing it as a tribute to Bangsa Malaysia. “P. Ramlee could sing in various languages, he’s our role model,” said Sean.


Having played the iconic artiste in the inaugural 2007 season of Enfiniti Productions’ P. Ramlee The Musical at Istana Budaya, Sean presented fans with four of his hits: the sad yet hopeful Hujan Di Tengah Hari from Perjodohan; the hilarious song on an extra-marital affair, Dengar Ini Cerita, from Hujan Panas; the Beatles-influenced Bunyi Gitar from Tiga Abdul; and the sing-along favourite, Kwek Mambo, which used to be ntv7’s corporate jingle.


The break proved to be brief and before some guests could leave the hall, Ida returned to sing Gronloh’s best-known song, the haunting Asmara. Her sultry voice suited the song perfectly, and the entire team of skilled musicians easily resembled a big band of a Gronloh showcase from the 1960s.


Sean then lifted everyone’s spirits by challenging them to say “umph”. This clearly signalled the beginning of Papa Loves Mambo, a boisterous hit for Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. Both singers tango-ed to the song’s Latin-influenced beat, and by now, audiences in the front rows had begun to stand up and dance.


“Yes, bring it on!” exclaimed Sean.


Sean’s next song was dedicated to his late mother who had a cameo in Tiga Abdul with P. Ramlee.


Titled Sabrina Kekasih Lama, it was penned by Izlyn, and referred to the character she played in Tiga Abdul, one of the ex-girlfriends of P. Ramlee’s character, Abdul Wahub. The catchy song nicely summed up the life, loves and dreams of Sean’s mother, a Singaporean who died in 2009. She had strongly supported his musical and acting career over the years. “My mother met P. Ramlee for the first time on the set of that movie, he was very impressed with her and vice-versa. I guess his magic rubbed off on her, and me indirectly!” he said.


Ida returned to sing the monster hit Besame Mucho and this time, she enlightened audiences with its composer and lyricist Consuelo Velazquez’s interesting story. Mexican musician Velazquez, whose evergreen Spanish song which means Kiss Me A Lot, had never been kissed when she created it in 1940, but since then it has been cited by musicians around the world as one of the most romantic of songs.


“Our singing legend, Nona Asiah, was the first person to sing a Malay version of this song, it’s one of my all-time favourites,” said Ida, who had starred in Enfiniti’s Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical.


She then joined the Kuchettes delivering Anita Sarawak’s urbane version of Gronloh’s timeless children’s song, Burung Kakaktua. This version made lots of references to shopping in Singapore, getting lost in traffic jams and “keeping up with neighbours.


Sean’s final solo numbers for the evening were Broery Marantika’s Sabar Menanti and Michael Buble’s Feeling Good which was originally performed by Nina Simone. Sean proved to be at his romantic best, and the ladies were clearly bowled over by his voice, honed by years of performing in the West End and the United States.


Ida then ended the evening with two boisterous Latin numbers, Mas Que Nada by Sergio Mendes, and the infectious Conga by the Miami Sound Machine. The singers and musicians bid the crowd farewell, but promptly returned with two extra songs — Freedom’s iconic Mulanya Di Sini and Gronloh’s haunting lullaby, Nina Bobo, which is hardly known to young Malaysians.


Tarakucha!, formed by Sean, began as a series of workshop performances in 2016 at his popular nightspot Bobo KL in Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar. Its first major show was at The Gardens Theatre in Mid Valley City last year, and last July 14, it performed at Singapore’s Esplanade in conjunction with Pesta Raya 2018.


Tarakucha! is an extension of Sean’s fascination with the Malaysian songbook, and its music celebrates being Malaysian with an old-world charm in a contemporary setting.


Marilah Menari was staged during a three-night run at The Platform in Menara KEN TTDI, Kuala Lumpur.

Options, The Edge


8 December, 2018


Tarakucha! Band: A Malaysian Big Band with a vintage twist


by Mae Chan


If the word “ tarakucha” sounds familiar to you, it might be because of the black-and-white movie Labu dan Labi, which was written and directed by P Ramlee, who also starred in the 1962 comedy. In a scene that produced one of its classic songs, Bila Larut Malam, the iconic Malaysian legend plays himself at a nightclub, performing with his wife Saloma.


Today, hearing the song’s refrain of “tarakucha, tarakucha cha” evokes a pang of nostalgia that brings a smile to one’s face, and for many, memories of a familiar melody that set the feet a-tapping.


This is the mood the Tarakucha Band has been creating in its shows since its first “workshop” performance back in October 2016 at Bobo Kuala Lumpur, and this week, KLites will have the opportunity to savour the same experience at the band’s Marilah Menari concert.


Cheekily dubbed “The Terrer Menerrer Big Band Experience”, the brainchild of veteran Malaysian singer and actor Sean Ghazi is also on the cusp of a leap towards what may be a game-changing season. What started out as an experiment has since grown into a vision of something that its founder and core members hope will exemplify entertainment of a distinctively Malaysian kind.


“The idea for Tarakucha was probably an extension of my 2006 album Semalam, and the idea — I’ve always wanted to bring back the big band sound — to make it a platform for the vintage Malay songbook. It has been sort of a quiet dream to imagine those great songs as a live act today,” Sean says of how the band came about.


As for what Tarakucha aims to encapsulate, he says, “It’s not just about Malay songs but also English, Mandarin and more, everything that the era embodied, that particular sound and spirit. I love that. I think it represents a time when we were very sophisticated, the golden days of our music history. I imagine it was a very exciting time to be around then; there was a lot of promise of being a new country, and people like P Ramlee himself as a prolific songwriter and filmmaker. Also, it was a freer and more stylish time, and I love that too — everyone dressing up, the kebayas, jackets and ties.”


His desire is for Tarakucha to become a brand that represents Malaysia abroad, a goal that, he says, is partly inspired by his experience working with American musical group, Pink Martini. Sean had recorded a Malay version of one of the group’s original songs for his album in 2006, and as a result, performed with it at the Hollywood Bowl and in a few other US cities as part of its tour. He was also guest vocalist at Pink Martini’s concert at Dewan Filharmonik Orchestra.


“Having seen the machinery behind Pink Martini, the way it has sustained this for 24 years, selling out show after show, with a line of people buying the merchandise after ... I think Tarakucha can be a Malaysian brand that truly ticks all the boxes of who we were in an inclusive way, a way that is instantly recognisable. That’s our challenge, and we’ve worked towards that,” states Sean.


Having worked on cultivating a particular style and growing the band’s repertoire in the last two years — last year, it put on its first big concert at The Gardens Theatre as part of the Diversecity KL International Arts Festival, and this year, the band performed in Johor Baru and Singapore, where it represented Malaysia at a Pesta Raya concert at The Esplanade — the founder says there is big potential for creating a lifestyle brand centred on the Tarakucha experience.


That said, he emphasises that music will always be the band’s focus, even though it has had the privilege to effect far more than entertainment. “We’ve had people come up to us, literally, with tears in their eyes after — even though it was a joyous show — and tell us that we’ve helped them fall in love with Malaysia again, or even changed their minds about moving abroad, I’m not kidding! They said they didn’t know why but they felt emotional. I think it’s the microcosm of Malaysia that they see on stage, and it’s the reason why we’ve kept going. This whole idea of an intangible but very human experience,” Sean reflects.


Marilah Menari promises a focused musical experience that will, nevertheless, carry the trademark playfulness and surprise elements that Tarakucha has come to be known for. “We have a lot of fun but it’s all very organic,” Sean adds.


Besides him and his co-lead, songstress Ida Mariana, the show will feature a boosted 12-piece band and three long-standing back-up vocalists, also known as the “Kuchettes”: Maya Tan Abdullah, Izlyn Ramli and Ruzana Ibrahim.


“It won’t be any less of an experience. We have invested our resources in what is important — the music, be it covers or original songs. We’ve increased the strings section and for the first time, we’ve worked with outside arrangers as well. It used to be just our music director Nish Tham but to bring different colour to our songs, this time we worked with Vivian Chua, Dennis Lau, Luqman Aziz, and Leonard Yeap,” says Sean.


Tarakucha has also opted for a unique funding method that it hopes can become the start of a potentially long-term model, at least until it is on a sound financial footing.


For the show, the band launched a “Friends of Tarakucha” initiative that is not unlike the angel investor models used by theatre companies. “We’ve started via word of mouth, through our own contacts and friends — every member of the show — where we’ve invited them to pledge a certain amount. There are three levels: Diamond, Gold and Silver, which is RM5,000, RM2,000 and RM1,000 respectively,” Sean explains.


Confessing an interest in the shared economy, the founder says the idea helps Tarakucha eliminate the problems often faced in sourcing for corporate funding, including potentially being cut in the last period of preparations.


“In many ways, this is a purer relationship and transaction between the act and the person who wants to support it,” Sean says. Besides giving them show tickets as a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement, the investors — whether individuals or companies — will also be invited for an after-show cast party, although Tarakucha is aware that the ultimate return on investment is for it to put on a fantastic show and succeed.


It will know that when people start dancing, which is happening more and more frequently at its shows. “Even when at the beginning I think this is going to be a tough crowd, at the end of each show, people get up and dance. And it’s becoming less of us needing to pujuk and more, ‘Oh, they’re dancing’. And it’s all kinds of people, from tudung ladies to uncles and children. That’s what this show hopes to do, to let people forget all their troubles and just come and dance,” Sean concludes with a smile.

The Malay Mail


3 December, 2018


P. Ramlee meets Vegas in Sean Ghazi’s big band experience ‘Tarakucha!’


by Melanie Chalil


PETALING JAYA, Dec 3 — How do you reinvent beloved retro Malay songs with a big band treatment?


Singer-actor Sean Ghazi took the challenge upon himself a couple of years ago and gave birth to Tarakucha!, the music ensemble that pays tribute to the great ‘Malaysian Songbook’.


It all began as a small workshop series at Bobo Kuala Lumpur in 2016 but has now morphed into full-fledged concerts since its public debut last year at the DiverseCity International Arts Festival.

From this Thursday to Saturday, Tarakucha! is back on stage and set to delight music fans with a 17-strong ensemble comprising lead singer Sean, his singing partner Ida Mariana and three backing-vocalists — Maya Tan, Izlyn Ramli and Ruzana Ibrahim — known as the Kuchettes along with a 12-piece big band.


The band’s name is derived from a P. Ramlee song Bila Larut Malam when the word tarakucha is sung as a backing riff.


“We were looking for a name that would rep the genre and the vibe without it being too literate,” the P. Ramlee The Musical star said.


Speaking to Malay Mail, Sean said this year’s show, entitled Marilah Menari, will focus on the musical aspect of the performance.


Tarakucha! gives old Malaysian songs a big band twist.


This year’s show is described as ‘P. Ramlee meets Vegas’ to give the unacquainted a rough idea.


“When we were performing it during DiverseCity, I realised that Tarakucha! was much more about the music, the pureness of the music experience with the audience and musicians on stage.


“I really want the experience to go back to the purity of the music. It’s about some of the old songs that we love and how we’ve Tarakucha-fied it in terms of today’s audience,” he said.


Noting that it was a challenge to toy with something so nostalgic, the musical theatre performer who has been in West End productions such as Miss Saigon and Rent said the goal was to make music from yesteryear relevant to today’s audience.


“I look at some of the stuff as national property. It’s so ingrained in local psyche and we’ve grown up with it so it’s a question of how you treat these songs with respect but still make them resonate with today’s audience and a younger crowd,” said Sean.


Tarakucha! plays around with culture and languages and ultimately celebrates Malaysia’s colourful diversity.


“We will be performing our crowd favourites and hits, and a few new songs to help our audience celebrate a momentous year because I feel we never had a chance to celebrate the major change we had,” said Sean, referring to this year’s election results.


Tarakucha! Marilah Menari runs from December 6 (Thursday) to December 8 (Saturday) at The Platform, KEN Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur at 8.30pm.


Tickets are priced at RM125, RM175, RM225 and RM300, and are available for purchase here.  


29 November, 2018




By : Zurien Onn


Malaysian performer extraordinaire Sean Ghazi is back on stage this December with TARAKUCHA! his “terrer menerrer” big band with a retro Malay twist. Performing at The Platform at KEN Taman Tun Dr Ismail from 6 until 8 December, TARAKUCHA features Sean himself as lead singer, with singing partner Ida Mariana, backing vocalists The Kuchettes comprising Maya Tan, Izlyn Ramli and Ruzana Ibrahim, and a 12-piece big band led by musical director Nish Tham.


sean ghazi tarakucha


TARAKUCHA! Marilah Menari is headlined by Sean Ghazi and Ida Mariana.


The latest show, “Marilah Menari” (Let’s Dance) promises a new repertoire befitting the festive season, if you had “P. Ramlee meets Vegas” in mind for the season. With shows on 6, 7 and 8 December 2018, Sean and Ida share with us why you shouldn’t miss “Marilah Menari” during their last run for 2018.


Of Mari Menari and Terrer-Menerrer


Her Inspirasi: What’s “terrer menerrer”?


Sean & Ida: It’s something we use in our vernacular to mean “amazing”, jokingly but also aspiring to it, but in a Malaysian way. We’ve been using “terrer menerrer” as our tag line from the first time we performed and it stuck. It sort of lines up with our performance, which is like a “rojak” of English, Malay, Spanish, Portuguese and songs from other cultures. It’s just something people will have to see to see what we mean.


HI: What inspired you to create Tarakucha?


Sean Ghazi: It started with my album that came out in 2006, and to me it was a progression from the album. I wanted to put it on stage. Now, we still perform music from this album, so it has a lot of legs. And then, I performed with (American “little orchestra” band) Pink Martini, which performs a mix of songs in different languages that crosses the genres of jazz, classical music, pop and others, and thought we could do it in Malaysia – to take these old Malay songs and raise it to an international standard. I was looking for a name that said it all without it being too much of a parody or too derivative.


So “Tarakucha” (the background riff in P Ramlee’s popular song “Bila Larut Malam”) is something from the time but not too strict, attractive to the international audiences and has exotic appeal. It has an essence of the P Ramlee times without it being completely borrowed .


TARAKUCHA was wildly enjoyed and applauded during their run at Pesta Raya 2018 at The Esplanade in Singapore.


HI: Give us 5 reasons why we should watch Tarakucha and Mari Menari.


Sean & Ida:-

  1. The people who come to our show leave feeling very patriotic.
  2. It’s a great show that invites you to celebrate, and we have a lot to celebrate this year.
  3. It’s simply so much fun – people will get up and dance at the end of the show. We present the Malay songbook, which is romantic but fun. We’re very serious about presenting good Malay music but we don’t take ourselves seriously.
  4. To remind ourselves of a much more innocent time. In Singapore they started getting up to dance before we even called them to come up and dance. They would say something like “We danced to this on our engagement.”
  5. It’s for everyone regardless of age or race.

Presented in English, with songs in English, Bahasa Malaysia and other languages, TARAKUCHA! Marilah Menari is on from 6 to 8 December, nightly at 8.30pm, at The Platform, KEN Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Get your tickets before they are sold out at, priced at RM125, RM175, RM225 and RM300.


Find out more about TARAKUCHA at or on their Facebook or Instagram pages.

The Star


10 July, 2018


Sean Ghazi’s Tarakucha big band set to play shows in Singapore


Singer/actor Sean Ghazi is no stranger when it comes to breaking new ground abroad. He spent a few good years in the United States, making music and broadening his career base.


These days, Sean is spending time closer to home. He is also busy with Tarakucha, which he calls a “big band with a vintage Malaysian twist”. Tarakucha is a pet project that is coming into its own.


Tarakucha, formed by Sean, began as a series of workshop performances in 2016 at popular club venue in Kuala Lumpur.


The group, which looks like it could fit snugly into a tour bus, also features velvet-voiced Ida Mariana of Kebaya Jazz fame, while the 10-strong big band is led by Nish Tham on the piano, doubling as the band’s musical director.


On July 14, Tarakucha will be performing at The Annex Studio, at Singapore’s Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay in conjunction with Pesta Raya 2018 – Malay Festival of Arts.


“We are super proud to represent Malaysia in Singapore this month and we hope it is the first of many invitations abroad,” says Sean.


“We are also very grateful to the National Department of Culture And Arts (JKKN) for their support on this production.”


After two years, and several gigs, including a concert last year at the Garden’s Theatre, Mid Valley in KL, Sean feels the time is right for Tarakucha to venture further afield.


Sean leads his big band Tarakucha out for two back-to-back performances at The Annex Studio, Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay in Singapore on July 14.


An extension of his fascination with the Malaysian songbook, as showcased in his AIM award-winning album Semalam, Tarakucha’s repertoire celebrates Malaysia’s musical heritage with songs by the nation’s great composers, artistes and songwriters such as P. Ramlee, Sudirman and Jimmy Boyle.


It’s all about iconic tunes given new life while taking inspiration from global influences, set alongside contemporary hits as well as original compositions written in what Sean refers to as the provocative “semalam” genre.


The upcoming shows in Singapore will be presented in English, with a healthy dose of Malay and the songs are sung in multiple languages – all delivered with humour, heart, style and fun. Audiences can also expect to hear Spanish and Portuguese among songs in English and Malay.


Tarakucha also features three backing singers self-styled as The Kuchettes; Maya Tan, Izlyn Ramli and Ruzana Ibrahim.


“I am also proud of each and every band member who, from a very young age, has persevered with their music through the local education system – despite the odds – especially within a landscape that does not prioritise the arts. It’s our dream to take Tarakucha all over the world to tell our stories and represent our Malaysia,” concludes Sean.


Tarakucha plays two back-to-back performances at The Annex Studio, Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay in Singapore on July 14. Showtimes: 8pm and 10pm. Tickets are available through

Marketing Magazine Malaysia


11 April, 2018


TM comms head Izlyn Ramli belts out powerful vocals in music video


by Reena


Telekom Malaysia launches Hebat Negaraku music video, Izlyn Ramli mesmerizes all with her vocals


Telekom Malaysia released its Hebat Negaraku (My country is great) video marking TM’s milestone as well as other GLC companies – three years since the graduation of GLCs under the GLCT 1.0 program in 2015.


The music video titled Hebat Negaraku – Inspirasiku(My country is great – My inspiration) features TM’s Vice President Group Brand and Communication, Izlyn Ramli as the lead vocalist together with musicians Hady Afro, AKZ, Amar Azalan and Uda Wahid. The music video shows footages from TM’s work such TM Program Sejahtera, Misi Bantuan Banjir and TM Scale Up.


The video, which runs on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and free-to-air TV, celebrates TM’s activities and efforts in nation-building. MARKETING reached out to Izlyn Ramli (pic) on her experience of working on the Hebat Negaraku video.


1. The song has such a melodic, chill vibe to it – especially the introduction, it draws you in immediately – what inspired this?


There are already a few upbeat versions out there and when I was tasked to do a more ‘soulful’ version for TM, I immediately asked Hady Afro to assist me. We decided to go for a more rustic chill lullaby vibe that was still very Malaysian at heart. Hady’s decision to go with an accordion was just spot on. At the heart of the song and the music video was the intent to reflect the values that drive TM’s vision in making life easier for a better Malaysia. This video celebrates TM’s activities and efforts in nation-building, whether it’s in helping the needy, contributing to the education of innovative minds and the future digital generation, protecting the environment, developing the advancement of sports especially Malaysian football, ensuring the security of our national networks and much more. All the footage you see in the video is real though we did also recycle some of our TVC. This is to show our authenticity in portraying the true TM values. We are grateful to have been a part of this video and hope it instils a sense of pride in all of us as Malaysians. TM is now ready, along with other GLCs, to embrace the new GLCT 2.0 journey that we will be embarking on until 2020. The new tide emphasises the continued commitment of TM, in fulfilling our responsibility as a vital partner in nation-building, in line with our role in building the nation’s communications infrastructure and as the nation’s Convergence Champion.


2.How was it like working alongside the talented Hady Afro?


I’ve had the serendipitous privilege, via Sean Ghazi and our amazing Malaysian big band Tarakucha; to work with Hady (Sheikh Hady Basmeih Mansur), who is one of Malaysia’s best fingerstyle guitarists in my opinion – as well as the other incredible home-grown and world-class talents in Amar Azalan (double bass/ bass) Muhammad Abdul Karim Zafiruddin or AKZ (percussions) and Uda Wahid (accordion). We also enlisted the help of the renowned Fauzi Marzuki to mix and master the track. I am so proud of them, of their artistry and work ethic. They bring a decidedly authentic flavour to any performance we do.


3.What was your memorable experience making the video?


You would not believe how quickly we did this! Hady arranged the song over the weekend 17th March, we rehearsed on 19th, recorded on 21st, mastered on the 22nd and shot the video on the 25th!!! All with raucous laughter and a lot of fun to while the long hours away…


4.You have amazing vocals, Izlyn. Can you tell us other secret superpowers that you’re hiding?


Thank you so much. Singing/songwriting/performing will always be life passions and I am lucky to be able to balance between my two worlds of corporate and performance; as both give me a sense of purpose and sit well with my personal values. (In truth I do wish I were Wonder Woman or a Jedi sometimes LOL)

The Marketing Interactive


11 April, 2018


TM comms head Izlyn Ramli fronts new brand video, stars as lead singer


by Janice Tan


Telekom Malaysia’s (TM) has launched its Hebat Negaraku (My Country is Great) video, reflecting the values that drive TM’s vision in making the lives of Malaysians easier.


Titled “Hebat Negaraku – Inspirasiku”, the new video features VP, group brand and communication, Izlyn Ramli (pictured), as the lead singer. In the video, TM also made use of past footages for the new video, featuring initiatives such as its environmental sustainability programme “My Coral Programme”, TM Earth Camp, flood assistance missions and TM Scale Up, its programme targeting women entrepreneurs.


TM joins other Malaysian government-linked companies, including Celcom Axiata, in unveiling their own take on the song.


In a statement to A+M, Izlyn Ramli said TM collaborated with DNA COMM and production house Effecthory music for the video, which was produced on a “minimal budget”. She also said that TM was going for a “rustic hipster lullaby vibe” while featuring homegrown talent.


“I am proud to be given the opportunity to do this for my beloved TM and Malaysia. For TM and my country!” Izlyn Ramli said. She added that the video was even more special to her as it was done in conjunction with alumni musicians from the National Arts and Cultural Academy, including Hady Afro, a well-known fingerstyle guitarist in Malaysia.


Check out the video here:




The video, which will run on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and free-to-air TV, celebrates TM’s activities and efforts in nation-building. These include helping the needy, contributing to the education of innovative minds, protecting the environment and encouraging the advancement of sports, especially Malaysia football.

The Star

Thursday, 20 August 2015

TM’s story told in a musical


[Izlyn was the joint architect for the production and staging of TM The Musical - A Story of Convergence! This was a ground-breaking internal communications/employee engagement and brand profiling platform - 100 days from concept to the first show - to make TM and Malaysian history as the 1st GLC/Corporate to tell its story as a full fledged professionally staged musical. The overwhelming response culminated in TM taking the musical to Istana Budaya, Malaysia's National Theatre for 5 shows 14-16 August 2015; the Merdeka edition, to a total audience of 8,000 TM employees and key stakeholders.]


Telekom Malaysia Berhad created history of sorts when it became the first company in Malaysia to stage a musical in Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, that engages with its employees and stakeholders.


Titled TM The Musical – A Story of Convergence, the story details the company’s fascinating journey from the days of its demerger exercise – one of the company’s many inflection points throughout its long history in Malaysia’s telecommunications industry – to what it is today.


The musical was first staged in May as part of TM Group Awards Night 2015, an annual award ceremony to recognise high-performing employees.


Commenting on the grand theatre performance, Telekom Malaysia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa said, “We are very proud to bring this masterpiece to a world-class stage such as Istana Budaya, which enables our stakeholders and distinguished guests to enjoy the show at its best.


“It is yet another milestone for us as we are arguably the first company in Malaysia, if not the world, to take this approach of staging our story as a full-fledged professional musical to engage our employees as well as our stakeholders.


“The musical is an innovative and creative approach in encapsulating, among others, the daunting challenges we faced post demerger, the struggles over the uncertainty of TM’s future then and how we overcame that together.


“Other notable points in the company’s history were the successful roll-out of high-speed broadband for the sustainability of TM, the rise of 1TM spirit to conquer the impossible and our working together in realising TM’s aspiration of becoming the nation’s true convergence champion,” said Zamzamzairani.


He said the performance also recorded TM’s transformative journey for posterity to inspire future generations while at the same time serve as a reminder and to ignite the spirit among the Warga TM to brave future challenges.


“The musical portrays the company’s aspirations of ‘Life Made Easier,’ in line with our new vision ‘To make life and business easier, for a better Malaysia’. And nothing delivers a message more meaningfully than in words, music and dance,” he added.


The musical, produced by KRU Studios Sdn Bhd, features a line-up of well-known as well as rising talents in the Malaysian theatre scene such as Tony Eusoff, Nadia Aqilah, Datuk Ahmad Tarmimi Siregar, Dian P. Ramlee, Adibah Noor and Datuk Jalalluddin Hassan.


Selected Telekom Malaysia employees and senior management also make cameo appearances in the show.


The renowned Pat Ibrahim joined the crew team as the director, lyricist and choreographer.


He also joined hands with Shamaine Othman to write the script for the performance while Edry Abd Halim took up the role as musical director.


The musical was staged at Istana Budaya over the recent weekend for a total of five shows including matinees.


Proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to charity organisations to be identified later.


The messages embedded in the musical are also in line with the national theme for this year’s National Day celebrations – #sehatisejiwa which reflects the spirit of solidarity, understanding and togetherness shared by all TM employees no matter where they are.


In its own unique way, TM continues to inculcate the spirit of patriotism among its Warga TM, fostering the sense of pride of being part of TM and instilling in them a greater sense of belonging as a Malaysian.

Malay Mail

Tuesday, December 4 2007

Izlyn Listening

By : Nur Ainne Johar




Torn between her ‘real’ profession and her passion for music, Izlyn Ramli is, however, not feeling like a fool




WITH Malaysia's relatively small music industry plagued by piracy, the career prospect of a recording artist, no matter how talented, is uncertain, to say the least. Many artistes find it necessary to have a `day job,' and jazz artist Izlyn Ramli is one of them. Perhaps it's because of this that Izlyn is not quite as busy or as well-known as she ought to be as a singer.


With only two records under her belt - mini EP Sinopsis Hati (1995) and Duality (2001) - and her on-off appearances on stage, she isn't quite the household name she has the potential to be, despite being nominated for "Best Solo Performance - Voice" at the 3rd Boh Cameronian Arts Awards 2004 for Sean Ghazi's I Have Dreamed production at The Actors' Studio.


But then she has had to make the hard choice of determining her priorities in life - and how to balance her work with her passion.


"I'm living in two different worlds, my intellectual and practical side has helped me to get promotions in my job with a leading telecommunications company. But I am also feeling the pull of my passion for music, so I'm stuck smack in the middle.


"It feels like I would be paralysed if one side of me is neglected. To sum it up, my life will be incomplete without one or the other, and I must have these two extremely important elements in my life," said the TM management executive.


Actually she had been facing the same dilemma since her final year in secondary school: she was forced to choose between following her dream of becoming a performer by entering the Guild Hall School of Music in United Kingdom or respecting her parents' wish to study accountancy.


"It was a hard decision for me to make, but I believe that my success depends on my parents' prayers and well-wishes, which was why I put my `other' dream on hold."


"Later on, even after I had succeeded in my career, I still harboured the desire to perform - in fact, my mind hadn't been made up at all even by then! I'm just greedy as I want both, and that's not a good example," she said with a laugh.


Rationally, she knows that one can't have the cake and eat it too. There was no way for her to be equally successful in both fields as both require her full attention and focus.


"I tried to do it for my last album, I wanted to do all-out programme to promote my music but just as I was about to embark on that, I got an offer to do a Master's programme in City University. That isn't the only example of how my work and music have clashed in terms of timing. But I have realised that only time will tell when I should finally make the decision on what I really want to focus on," Izlyn said.


But again, Izlyn isn't just passionate about her music; she has recently discovered a love for acting. With the help of her pal, Sean Ghazi, she made her acting debut in the sold-out Enfiniti production "P. Ramlee - The Musical".


She was introduced to theatre when she worked as a lyrics translator for Puteri Gunung Ledang - The Musical and other international productions like Miss Saigon.


"When I was behind the stage and felt and saw the excitement on everyone's face, from the production crew to the cast, I was filled with envy and I promised myself that I would get myself a role in the next Enfiniti project.


"So, the minute I heard that Sean had `got a role' (in the next production) from our manager, I was compelled to audition for one too. Thank God I made it, you have no idea how happy I was!" she said.


To date, the singer has translated more than 15 songs from English to Malay and Malay to English.


Her work has not gone unappreciated there - the audience and producer have been so impressed that there is now a call for her to release an album consisting of all these songs.


"It's still in the infancy stage. Nothing has been done yet as I have yet to find the time to do it. I'm busy with my clients throughout the week, and I usually also work on Sundays!


"Sean keeps pushing me to hasten it while the demand is hot; he is all set to help me out, to guide me through all of it, he has been such a wonderful friend," she said.

With a voice that aspiring jazz singers would give their right arm for, it is indeed a shame that she has yet to record her third album.


"Of course I want to record a new album, but the local market is just so small. It is so difficult to reach new listeners unless you're in the pop genre."


"Being an artiste is not all about the glamour and the fame as you are actually working extra hard to reach a comfort level compared to other less competitive and stable professions," she said.


And if she were to release an album, the Internet would be her first choice as a marketing tool as she would be able to personally monitor the promotion and outcome.


"Seriously, I don't mind if my album sells less than 1,000 units, fame has never been my dream, all I want to do is to share my music, that is all.


"Like I said earlier, singing is my passion that has never benefited me financially except when I find the time to perform at corporate events. I'm satisfied with the acceptance that I have gained among my fans. If Malaysians can't appreciate my talent, it doesn't upset me at all as I trust my time will soon come.


"Maybe the foreign countries are ready for me? Recently, a Japanese fan e-mailed me to tell me that she bought my album at a music store! That's totally bizarre don't you think?" she laughed.


Monday, October 22 2007

Ramlee musical a smash hit



All seats for the P. Ramlee musical have been taken, for the duration. DENNIS CHUA reviews the show.


TAKING on the life story of Malaysia’s King of Entertainment is a monster challenge particularly when the country is marking its 50th anniversary.


But executive producer Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina and Enfiniti Productions successfully created the first major musical on P Ramlee by focusing on the human side.


If one measures success by ticket sales, P. Ramlee The Musical ... The Life, The Loves And The Inspiration is certainly a winner, as all seats in Istana Budaya from Oct 18 to Nov 3 were taken on the first night itself.


Trimming Ramlee’s story down to that of a screen idol longing to be loved struck a chord with the audience, as few Malaysians know of him beyond his iconic status, songs and movies.

Props “carbon-copied” from Ramlee films, footage of his films, his movie posters and “newspaper reports”, accurate retro-fashion, stage technology which changes scenes by elevation, curtains emerging from all sides and credits in black-and-white, added to the show’s appeal.


The story begins and ends in 1973, with Ramlee’s last days at the Jalan Dedap bungalow in Kuala Lumpur that is now a memorial museum. Pudgy and tired, he busily composes his last hit song Air Mata Di Kuala Lumpur as a thunderstorm roars outside.


Ramlee (played by Sean Ghazi) retires to his favourite sofa and is joined by his third wife and soul mate Saloma (Liza Hanim), who assures him that the country will never forget him once he is gone.


Ramlee’s sadness slowly turns into a smile, as he reminisces on his journey to stardom beginning in Penang 36 years earlier.


Young Ramlee, played with zest by up-and-coming theatrical talent Mikhail Merican, 12, often plays truant from school, sings and dances to cendol customers and brings George Town’s streets alive.


The Penangites have high hopes for the boy to become a star, but Ramlee is soon distracted by his second dream, to win the love of rich girl Azizah, played convincingly by RTM Young Star 2005 winner Nurazliana (Lynn) Rusli.


Azizah and Ramlee are drawn to each other, but her mother (Soefira Jaafar) forbids her from going out with him.


Later, in his 20s, Ramlee wins a talent contest in Bukit Mertajam singing his first hit Azizah, composed with his childhood sweetheart, now portrayed by pop queen Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, in mind.


Film director B.S. Rajhans (choreographer Joseph Gonzales) who works with the Shaw brothers, Run Run (Colin Kirton) and Runme (Douglas Lim), and their company Malay Film Productions in Singapore, invite Ramlee to pursue an acting and singing career in Singapore.


Ramlee is heavy-hearted as this means leaving Azizah, but in Siti’s defining moment of her theatrical debut, she performs the moving Mulanya Cinta and encourages him to reach for the stars.


Joined by his best pal Sukardi (Chedd Yusoff of So You Think You Can Dance?), Ramlee boards a Singapore-bound train, and ends up at the Jalan Ampas studio, where he meets his future father-in-law, actor Daeng Harris (Wan Kenari Ibrahim).


Ramlee later marries Harris’ actress daughter Junaidah, played by jazz singer Raja Atilia Raja Haron, in a scene reminiscent of his comedies. The marriage is shortlived, as Ramlee is too busy chasing fame, and he soon ends up with the elegant Norizan Mohd Noor, the ex-wife of Sultan Yussuf Shah of Perak.


Sadly, Ramlee’s new added responsibilities as a director and composer keeps him away from the tempestuous and possessive Norizan who is convincingly played (right down to her facial expressions) by Saloma’s real-life niece and award-winning actress Melissa Saila. The couple often quarrel, and yet another marriage ends.


Ramlee eventually gets smitten by singer Salmah Ismail or Saloma, a fellow divorcee who was his secret admirer. They become duet partners, as she proves a gifted interpreter of his works.


Their professional relationship quickly becomes romantic for “Remy” admits to “Sally” that he cannot spend a day without her in the romantic Taman Tasik Titiwangsa.


Meanwhile, the Shaws face problems of their own as political instability rocks Singapore and the island chooses to leave Malaysia. Studio staff are angry with the Shaws’ act of retrenching and “underpaying” them.


Throughout the musical, Ramlee and his wives are confronted by four paparazzi members played by GangStarz pop group Infinatez. First-timers in theatre, they were cut out for the job.


However, the main supporting stars were Izlyn Ramli, Maya Tan Abdullah and Ida Mariana, who opened every scene as colourful, singing narrators.


While experienced Melissa proved the most applauded of Ramlee’s wives, Atilia and Liza also deserved kudos for mastering their respective characters, right down to their fashion and accents.


And all three are great singers who hold their own against Siti, who was not bad at all as a first-time actress.


Sean is living proof that hard work pays. While he hardly resembles Ramlee, the former Broadway actor and award-winning singer made extra effort to adopt the legend’s mannerisms, speech and style.


He was best as a distraught Ramlee freshly divorced from Norizan and a cheeky Ramlee wooing Saloma in between rehearsals.


Tiara picked the right man for the director’s job, her ex-Puteri Gunung Ledang co-star Adlin Aman Ramlie who is the son of Ramlee’s fellow actor A.R. Tompel.


Adlin co-directed the play with Zahim Albakri, and also wrote its 20 songs such as Mulanya Cinta and Lihatlah Dia. Ramlee’s evergreen hits such as Di Mana Kan Kau Cari Ganti, Azizah and Istana Cinta were also performed by Sean and Liza.


As Ramlee is also loved in Singapore and Indonesia, renowned Singaporean composer Dick Lee was roped in as composer and Indonesian maestro Erwin Gutawa as music director.


In a year of biographical musicals, Ramlee’s story stands out as first among equals.


A life too large

Tuesday 4 October, 2007


THE challenge now, weeks before the opening of P. Ramlee The Musical ... The Life, The Love and The Inspiration, is how to condense it into a two-hour show. Its executive producer Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina said the show currently runs for 2½ hours — and that excludes set changes.


“How do you compact someone’s life story?" she asked, adding, "Adlin Aman Ramlie (the director) and I are still debating whether we should leave it as it is. He and co-director Zahim Albakri don’t want to cut it... after all, Puteri Gunung Ledang: The Musical ran for two hours and 15 minutes."


She said there is much pressure due to the success of Puteri Gunung Ledang: The Musical.


“A lot of people ask me whether this is going to be better than that. All I can say is that it’s going to be a different experience. This is a bigger production — with 44 people on stage, a bigger orchestra and 12 major sets!”


The sets by Raja Malik took Tiara’s breath away. "It’s going to be another architectural achievement in local stage production. Apart from P. Ramlee’s house, cabaret lounges and a train station, there will be a train on stage!”


Tiara was also excited about the roles played by Izlyn Ramli, Ida Mariana and Maya Tan Abdullah, who play a trio of burlesque women (“just like in the musical Little Shop Of Horrors”), who dance and sing.


"They are everywhere — from the train station to the cabaret lounges. They swoon over P. Ramlee’s love story and also serve as narrators. I just love watching them."


Izlyn, Ida and Maya were also back-up singers in Sean’s first album Semalam.


"When they came to the audition, they sang as a trio so well that we created these characters specially for them, around their personalities."


Tiara was speaking to the Press at an event to announce Media Prima as the show’s media partner recently. Media Prima was represented by TV3’s chief executive officer Datuk Farid Ridzuan.


Through Media Prima, the show will receive promotional blitzes in shows over TV3, ntv7, 8TV and TV9 including Malaysia Hari Ini, The Breakfast Show, Apa-Apa Aje, Melodi, Galaksi, Keluarga Di9 and Hey Morning.


Viewers will also be able to catch a special programme, The Making Of ... P. Ramlee The Musical, on Oct 20 (5pm) over TV3.


So why isn’t Tiara in the show?


“I just want to focus on my role as an executive producer. I had a difficult time in Puteri Gunung Ledang — memorising the lines, songs and dance steps as well as looking after marketing and publicity and getting sponsorships.”


At this stage, she said sets are being built and costumes sewn. "Rehearsals are in full swing. I saw the entire show recently — both Act 1 and Act 2 (with piano accompaniment) — it looked fantastic!"


Will there be a soundtrack album to precede the show?


“We’re trying to see if we can release a mini album before the show because the songs are so beautiful. I go to the rehearsals just to hear the songs being performed, especially those by Atilia called Lihatlah Dia, and Siti Nurhaliza’s Mulanya Cinta. I get goosebumps listening to them sing.


On Liza Hanim she said: “Her voice is exactly like Saloma’s! We didn’t expect this at all. And you should see her when she’s all made up as Saloma — the resemblance is scary and overwhelming at the same time. She really becomes Saloma.”


As for Sean, "I melt when I hear him sing. It’s nice to watch Sean in action. He also contributes to the production’s wonderful dynamics and the cast’s camaraderie, just like what Steve (Stephen Rahman-Hughes) did in Puteri Gunung Ledang."


It’s showtime


P. RAMLEE The Musical ... The Life, The Love And The Inspiration opens on Oct 18 at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur. There will be 18 shows (showtime at 8.30pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays, with matinees at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays).


Tickets are priced at RM30, RM50, RM80, RM120 RM150, RM180, RM200 and are available at counter at Istana Budaya and 24-hour Call Centre (03-2091-1666).


For online bookings, visit Mobile phone bookings are available through with payment at Mobility One terminals at Petronas outlets.


You can get more information about the show by visiting


Voices in aid of hospices

Wednesday September 5, 2007






Come Nov 4, Hospis Malaysia will join hands together with 60 other countries worldwide in a ‘Mexican Wave’ of simultaneous concerts for the Voices for Hospices 2007.


The event started in UK, and is celebrated every two years in hopes to bring awareness as well as to fund for the access of better palliative care services through music.


“Access to good palliative care should be a human right. Funding the services is challenging and the Voices for Hospices event brings both awareness and much needed funds to reduce the burden of suffering to this marginalised community,” said Hospis Malaysia chief executive officer Dr Ednin Hamzah.

Donating their time and voices: Izlyn Ramli (second from left) and Sean Ghazi handing out gifts to friends of Hospis Malaysia.


According to Hospis Malaysia general manager Rosehayati Ahmad Noordin, said the non-profit organisation initially started off the Voices for Hospices in Malaysia with small choir groups before moving on to organising concerts.


This time round in Malaysia, the event is celebrated about a month later than the actual date (Oct 6) because of the fasting month.


The charity dinner will be held at JW Marriot Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 4 will feature AIM (Anugerah Industri Muzik) winner Sean Ghazi and singer Izlyn Ramli with their 60s inspired music supported by an Accapella group, The Wicked Pitches.


“If one cannot donate in terms of money, donating their time as volunteers at the centre would definitely help make a difference too, because sitting around and watch just won’t help,


“The funds raised from the event will be able to assist our ability not just to care for these patients but also to enhance our capacity to provide for more,” said Dr Ednin who estimates about 1500 patients would be referred to the centre this year.


Tables for the dinner is priced at RM20,000, RM15,000, RM10,000, RM8,000, RM5,000 and RM3,000 respectively. For details call 03-9133 3936.


# Voices for Hospices is a UK-registered charity which co-ordinates a ‘Mexican Wave’ of simultaneous concerts round the globe, on the same day, once every two years. The concerts, involving up to a million people each time and raising at least £1 for every one patient, raise awareness and encourage new volunteers for each local unit involved.

The Malay Mail

Friday, June 30 2006


Charity event to help shelter street children


STREET children in the city’s Chow Kit area may soon have a shelter, thanks to the efforts of several individuals who organised

a fund-raising dinner last night.


The event at The Wine Room, Asian Heritage Row in Jalan Yap Ah Shak, saw many artistes and generous Malaysians chipping

in to help the Chow Kit Children Activity Centre (Pakk).


Pakk is a day-care centre for the homeless and displaced children. It needs a hostel to help the unfortunate children.


At present, Pakk is providing day shelter and activity programmes to the children – mostly offspring of sex workers, drug

addicts and the disabled. It operates from 10am to 5pm daily.


Yayasan Salam Malaysia consultant, Dr Hartini Zainudin, who helped in the fund- raising event, said the shelter needs

RM80,200 to build the hostel.


“There are 90 children registered with the centre. At least between 16 and 20 of them sleep on the streets nightly. That’s why

the centre needs a three-storey shop house to place them,” she said.


She also said some of these children have had to steal to eat.


The centre’s director, Raja Azizan Suhaimi Raja Abd Latiff, said the centre also needs volunteers to help with the children.

About 200 patrons, including VIPs, attended the charity event.


They each donated RM50 as entrance fee and bought RM5 raffle tickets to win prizes sponsored by YTL Hotels and Properties,

CoChine Restaurant, Spa Village and others.


Local celebrities like Izlyn Ramli, Ferhad, Nora, Ida Nerina, M. Nasir and The Platters entertained.


Among those who attended the event were Yayasan Salam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail and wife, Puan Seri Dayang Razali,

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi and wife, Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina,

and actor/model Hans Isaac.