ENTERTAINMENT ICON: Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin
By Tony Mariadass
Pictures by: Azneal Ishak and Abdul Razak Ghazali
EVERGREEN singer Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin is still helping to promote musicians even being in the industry 40 years.
The 76-year-old Dahlan has always been known to be down-to-earth artiste who is not only friendly with his fans, but has always went out of his way to keep the musicians as a family.
Dahlan a good footballer, has used the sport to bring the musicians together on numerous occasions by organising football friendlies with artistes from neighbouring countries and has worked very closely with musicians associations like Papita, Seniman and Karyawan for many events.
Dahlan who continues to perform at functions, is currently helping a veteran group of buskers, Melody Buskers – where he sings with them once or twice a week at the Nasi Lemak Tanglin at the Tanglin Community Food court near Lake Gardens.
“These buskers are an experienced lot, but have resorted to busking because they are no longer in demand. The guitarist, Hamron Kasim (Ayom) was my band member when I used the Kilat band 30 years ago,” said Dahlan who looks much younger than his age.
The other member of the Melody Buskers are Jalil Zain (bassist), Basharuddin (vocalist), Amri Ismail (guitar), Amir Ikhwan (cajon) and the rose among the thorns, vocalist Reny Kamalisa.
“My presence with them is to endorse the band and that to tell music lovers that we have good buskers who are experienced.
“But above all, I miss playing with a full band because most of the time when I perform these days I am asked to use ‘minus one’ to cut cost in hiring a band. Thus, singing with Melody Buskers allows me to continue to enjoy the joy of playing with a band.”
When asked if he was degrading himself by playing at a food court, Dahlan simply said:” I did not become a star overnight. I had to go through the mill and start from the bottom. I will never forget my roots and will always support any kind of music and played anywhere. Music is supposed to be played anywhere and without the support of the masses, we will not be popular.
“Besides, playing at a food court allows me to meet and mingle with my fans freely and also an opportunity to meet old friends in a relaxed and informal surrounding.”
Dahlan said many veteran musicians drop by to jam with the band and the venue also serves as a meeting point for his friends.
Dahlan paid tribute to Nasi Lemak Tanglin owner Zainal Abidin Hassan who is also the manager of Melody Buskers who accommodated the band to play at his stall and has created an atmosphere for the food court as patrons are entertained as they enjoy their food.
The band plays from 8am to 12 noon daily unless on nights when they perform at functions, when they take the next morning off.
Dahlan still commands a strong following where he has is ardent fans without fail having their Nasi Lemak and listening to him croon his evergreen songs.
He has indeed come a long way since starting to sing as a lounge and pub singer in the early 70s.
Dahlan, who is married to fellow singer Effa Rizan – his wife for 40 years – made his mark after competing in the Bintang RTM and won the Best Performer Award in 1975.
Effa sometimes joins Dahlan at the Tanglin Food court and while she sings occasionally, but in rare occasions one can catch Dahlan doing a duet with his wife.
“I rarely do duets with Effa because our voice tones do not match.Even when we do shows, we sing individually. But on rare occasions by demand of the audience, we may sing one song,” said Dahlan who has four children – Natasha, Danial, Akasya Iman (passed away at the age of 12 because of leukemia) and Anthenic Ines.
In 1975 Dahlan also released his debut EP (extended play) album titled ‘Kisah Seorang BIduan’ which was an instant hit and went on to record two EPs, nine LPs (long Play), five CDs.
Dahlan also created history by becoming the first local singer who had the opportunity to hold a concert at the Stadium Negara in 1978 and also performed at the National Stadium in Singapore.
Dahlan also had performed at the Malaysian Hall in London in 1976.
Dahlan, Ipoh born spent his early days in Singapore where he had his primary education at the Telok Kurau English School, before returning to Kuala Lumpur as a teenager.
The multi-talented Dahlan also was an actor acting in the movie as his debut album ‘Biduan’ and acted in television dramas too.
Football was in Dahlan’s blood and was responsible of putting the New Straits Times football team in the limelight as captain and coach of the team in the late 70s and early 80s, when he was working as a marketing executive with the newspaper.
The scribe had the honour of playing under Dahlan when the team competed in the Petaling Jaya District Business House League, Inter-Press Games in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Dahlan’s who plays as a forward or midfield, first played for Selangor Indian Association (SIA) in the Selangor league before turning out for teams like Starlight Club, Chui Lok, Belia Sinaran and Mara and even when he was older, he continued to play in the veteran’s team of Ulu Kelang Recreation Club (UKRC).
He only stopped playing three years ago when he was not well and even laid off from singing for two years.
But he returned to singing last year with a performance in the KTM railway event coach to Hadyai where he performed together with Melody Buskers throughout the journey from Kuala Lumpur to Hadyai.
“Singing is in my blood. I cannot stay away from it. Although I may have slowed down a little and do not perform as many shows, I am happy that my services are still sought and invited to perform for functions.
“Right now, I enjoy very much singing with Melody Buskers where there is no formalities and I can just have a good time.”
Dahlan may have aged but he still stays relevant and continues to thrill his fans with his golden voice.