By Tony Mariadass
Jazzy teacher Nadia
Nobody would guess that jazz singer Nadia Adha Mohd Abid does her gig as a hobby and part-time singer and that her real profession is a teacher!
Yes, this 26-year-old Nadia teaches fulltime at the Malacca International School and sings at Geographer Café on Jonker Street on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.
And she sings with her father Mohd Abid Ismail, who is an accomplished musician who has been in the scene for the last 40 years.
The oldest of two daughters, Nadia started singing at a tender age of five and started performing under Education Ministry since seven years old when she was schooling at SK Batu Berendam.
Both at primary school and secondary at SMK Munish Abdullah, she took part in all singing competition and won most of it. She also joined Konsert Di-Raja from 2002-2006 performing before His Royal Highness King of Malaysia.
Despite her young age, she sang both old and latest songs.
She was the finalist of Bintang Klasik competition (national level) and winner during the state and Malaysia Zone level.
She has been invited to perform at police, government, private functions and VVIP’s dinner show in Malacca, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang and Kelantan.
She has also done opening acts for Siti Nurhaliza’s concerts including at the corporate dinner show before the late Sultan Kelantan, Yang Maha Mulia Tengku Ismail Petra Ibni Al Marhum Sultan Yahya Petra in 2008.
Her versatility singing Malay traditional songs, pop ballad, jazz, R&B, slow rock and blues genre has certainly made her popular.
After performing with her father at functions, Nadia’s real performance on stage began nine years ago.
Her father was performing at Malacca’s Renaissance hotel with another singer. But the singer took leave too often and Abib decided to invite his daughter to stand in.
It was then that the hotel management happy with Nadia’s performance, decided to ask Abid to use Nadia as his permanent partner for the stint.
“It all started at Renaissance Hotel when I started singing regularly,” said Nadia recalling her early begging in the entertainment world.
“Then we had a regular patron, Mr Peter Tseng – who said I should try singing jazz numbers as my voice suited it.
“Next thing you know I was trying out jazz number and almost immediately fell in love with jazz. I started learning more jazz numbers.”
Nadia said that she continued singing even when she was when she pursuing her studies (in business studies and early childhood education) at the Multi-Media University and Open University respectively in both Malacca and Johor Baru.
“It was when Mr Peter – who is the owner of Geographer – who invited me and my father to perform at his outlet in 2010 and that started me performing more jazz numbers and even have a dedicated day for jazz music.”
Nadia and her father whose band is called Body and Soul Jazz Band perform on Monday’s jazz night together with session bassist Eppy and drummer Gene and on Friday and Saturdays perform as Body and Soul father and daughter band where they sing current number top 40 numbers.
Nadia first started out singing classic jazz by Loius Armstrong, Aretha Franklyn, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole but now combines the newer jazz numbers from Michael Buble, Diana Krall, Robbie Williams and Emilie Claire Barlow.
Among Nadia’s favourites are Georgia on my mind (Ray Charles), Me and Mr Jones (Bill Withers) and Mack the knife (Fitzgerald).
Nadia also has a younger sister, Diana Adha, 21, who is also a musician who plays the guitar and sings.
Diana also sings at the Geographer on Sundays from 4.00pm to 6.45pm singing top 40 numbers.
“Music runs in my family. But my father did not force me and my sister to take up music. But growing up with my father a musician all his life, it was only natural that we followed his footsteps,” said Nadia who has a single album which she cut in 2014 and the song Miliki Cintanya is used as the theme song in series drama Yes Boss.
“My mother – Juliaha Daud – is very supportive our involvement in music and most of the time comes with us when we perform.
Nadia said she and her father hardly practice because of her teaching schedule and only get their act together when they perform.
“If I am doing any new songs, I just let him know and just hit it off when we perform. He never tells me how to sing a song. But if he feels it is not right, he just ask me to go over it again. We just gel together with telepathic understanding.”
Nadia said she has had her primary students coming to the restaurant with their parents to listen to her and lend her support.
“The parents have no issues of me being an entertainer and teacher. But I have guests who pass remarks that as a Muslim I should not be performing and sometime the younger patrons get a little rowdy,” said Nadia who got engaged earlier this month to Syafiq Aziz, a mechanical engineer with UMW from Kuala Lumpur.
“My father naturally supports me full heartedly and my mother has no issues. I just turn a deaf ear to some adverse comments, while the staff at Geographer are very protective of me and take care of me. Besides, I have my parents by my side always.
“Even my finance has no issues. In fact, he met when he came to listen to the band when I was performing at Renaissance Hotel.
“I love what I am doing and music has been part and parcel of my life. I will continue to do what I love. I am thrilled that I can share my passion for music with others who appreciate and enjoy my singing.”
By Tony Mariadass
Malacca's own pianist man
Mohd Abid Ismail is a veteran musician, but never sought the publicity to be well known.
He has achieved what many musicians aspire to achieve, but he remains humble and keeps a low keep despite being involved in the music industry which he started off as an 17-year-old schoolboy.
The 61-year-old father of two daughters who are part of his music world – Nadia Adha (26) is a singer while the younger daughter, Diana (21) is a singer and guitarist – has never been featured in the print media.
Abid and Nadia form the combination as Body and Soul father and daughter band and Diana performs solo at the Geographer Café at Jonker Street in Malacca
Abid also performs as a pianist solo for the lunch patrons on weekends at Seri Malaysia Hotel since the hotel opened in Malacca nine years ago.
Born in Johor Baru, Abid started out by forming a band called Impian Tasik while in school at SM Sultan Ismail with three of his schoolmates.
Abid who does not read music but picked up by playing by ear is a well-travelled musician.
His early days band in the 80s – Wheels – had top musicians like drummer Syed Haron Ahmad the composer for the late Sudirman Arshad’s Warisan (Legacy) which was picked as 2014’s Merdeka theme song, guitarist Abdul Hanan Khan and bassist Najib Hashim.
Abid also had another band – The Secret – which performed for six years and with whom he released his third album in 1989.
With Wheels he produced two albums which were released 1984 and 1986. His most popular songs, Dalam Kenangan and Sekuntum Cinta is still being aired in the radio.
“Sometimes when I am in a coffeshop and song is played over radio, it brings me back memories. But nobody in the shop recognises me as a band member of the band which produced the song. It sad, but I just get the satisfaction that it has become an evergreen hit.
“It was the same with Syed Haron’s composition Legacy despite being used as the thyme song for Merdeka celebrations in 2014 did not see it get the due credit.”
Abid said what Syed Haron had said in an interview was spot on. Syed Haron had said: “You have to understand, composers and lyricists don’t care for glamour and glory. All we want is for our songs to be sung and recorded by someone of great talent, like the late Sudir (Sudirman Arshad). However, being an old man… I can be a little bit sensitive. My joy that my song is being used to celebrate the nation’s 57th independence overwhelms the slight feeling of sadness and hurt that I was not credited.”
But Abid said that he looks back on his journey in music all these years reminiscing all the good times, the joy and satisfaction he has derived to keep him more than happy despite not being popular.
In 1995, Abid had performed solo as a pianist in Renaissance Hotel, Malacca for three years. In 1998, he joined Gan Shots band as a keyboardist.
In 2002, to enrich his skills in music as composer and music programmer, he joined Malacca’s Briged Seni, as a music composer under the State of Melaka Tourism bureau.
During his career as a musician and composer with the group, he also had performed internationally in Jakarta, Sumatera, Medan, Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Singapore and Cambodia.
At home besides Malacca, he has performed mostly in hotels in Johor Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Terengganu, Pangkor Island and Langkawi.
Abid even had his soundtrack Sekuntum Cinta being used as the thyme song for a Filipino drama series- Angelito - which was translated into Bahasa Malaysia and shown in Malaysia in the 80s.
It was in September 2006, with the intention to expose his daughter Nadia, he decided to perform again in Renaissance Hotel.
The rest is history as Body and Soul was born and have been a mainstay at Geographer and a hit pair in Malacca.
Abid has gone on to earn a nickname as Abid the Pianist.
“Music has been my life and I have no regrets. Maybe I may not be as popular has other musicians, but music has brought so much joy to me,” said Abid.
“And now to see my two daughters in music too, I gives me great satisfaction that my legacy will live on.”
Indeed, Abid is a legend in his own right and although he is not famous he has done his part to make music richer in Malaysia.