Straight from the heart

Malaysian pop diva Siti Nurhaliza says she has had to make adjustments in her life as a married woman
By Eddino Abdul Hadi, MUSIC REPORTER

ImageShack
‘Music can bring the people of the world together, and help people realise that unity is more important than wars or conflict’ – Siti Nurhaliza — PHOTO: ESPLANADE

SITI Nurhaliza, Malaysia’s reigning singing queen, certainly believes in the power of song.
‘Music can bring the people of the world together, and help people realise that unity is more important than wars or conflict,’ she tells Life! in an e-mail interview in Malay.

The singer will be performing at the Esplanade tonight in Diari Hati – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza (Diary Of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza’s Heart), her first solo concert here in three years.

The most expensive ticket is priced at $300.

Since making her professional singing debut 13 years ago, the Pahang-born lass has seen a meteoric rise unparalleled by any other Malaysian artiste.

She also happens to be the youngest Malaysian to hold the title of datuk, an honorific conferred on her by the Sultan of Pahang in 2006 when she was just 27, a move that surprised even the singer herself.

She says she feels honoured and she’s not taking the privilege lightly.

‘With the level of success comes a big responsibility for me as an artiste,’ she says. ‘I always have to give my best in everything that I put out for the people and work hard for my career.’

As a child, the fifth of eight siblings living in a police barrack, she didn’t dream of a career in music.

‘My goal at that time was to be a policewoman,’ she reveals, inspired by her policeman father.

Her grandfather was a violinist though, and her housewife mother was also known to sing traditional Malay songs.

She received her first big break when she won a national singing contest organised by television station Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) in 1995.

Since then, the 29-year-old has released 12 solo studio albums, a duet record and countless compilation albums.

She also holds the record for garnering the most fan-voted awards for any artiste from Malaysia. Among them are seven consecutive Most Popular Star awards from the country’s Berita Harian newspaper, six consecutive Most Popular Female Star awards from Singapore’s Anugerah Planet Muzik (Music Planet Awards), four consecutive MTV Asia awards for Favourite Malaysian Artiste and even awards from Australia, Shanghai and Indonesia.

Still, she insists that such recognition isn’t important for her.

‘Being an artiste is not about chasing awards or popularity. My fans have placed their trust in me so I have to live up to their expectations,’ she adds.

Her marriage to Dato’ Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa in 2006 caused a bit of a brouhaha among her fans, mostly for the fact that the prominent businessman was 20 years older and that he was only recently divorced from his former wife before marrying Siti.

She reveals that she has had to make quite a number of adjustments now that she is a married woman. ‘My marriage and my responsibilities as a wife are my priorities right now. I have discussions with my husband before I make any decisions pertaining to my career,’ she says.

No stranger to the business world herself, she also has her own entertainment and marketing companies dealing in, among other things, her own brand of tea.

Stylistically, she has also recently started sporting the tudung (headscarf) in public, a sartorial decision made after she returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

She says she has no problems carrying on a normal life just like everyone else – but with a catch.

‘I still go shopping at the malls and eat at public restaurants,’ she says. ‘As long as I am accompanied by my husband, family or staff.’

dinohadi@sph.com.sg

Diari Hati – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza (Diary Of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza’s Heart) is on at the Esplanade Theatre tonight at 8. The $60 and $80 tickets are sold out and only $120, $160, $220 and $300 tickets are left and available through Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555).

SEAT AVAILABILITY @ 21/3/08 18:16
ImageShack

http://www.straitstimes.com/Free/Story/STIStory_218840.html