Paying tribute to pioneer artists

The Pinholes are well known in the indie scene for their lo-fi, garage rock tunes.
The Pinholes are well known in the indie scene for their lo-fi, garage rock tunes.PHOTO: THE PINHOLES

Local musicians who grew up listening to artists on radio are thrilled to be performing with their idols at the Sing50 concert

They grew up listening to the songs by their favourite artists on radio. This Friday, these musicians will share the stage with the same names they looked up to at the Sing50 concert.

Home-grown retro rockers The Pinholes are more than thrilled to be performing with their idol Vernon Cornelius, who is the vocalist of legendary 1960s band The Quests.

The Pinholes' drummer Shari Ismail, 22, says: "The first time we met Vernon in January, he was so welcoming and listened to our songs. He really respects everyone around him and, after so long, he still channels the 1960s vibe."

The original song Shanty by The Quests, one of the most successful bands of the era, became the first song by a local band to top the charts here in 1964 for 12 weeks. After experiencing several changes in their line-up over the years, the group disbanded in 1970.

The Pinholes are well known in the indie scene for their lo-fi, garage rock tunes, which are inspired by the bands of yesteryear including 1960s' The Swallows and The Quests.

Ismail says: "Even though everything was in black and white in the 1960s, it was a colourful era because there were so many genres and styles in music and fashion. We feel honoured to perform with artists from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Of course, we are most excited to play with Vernon from The Quests, though we do wish we could play with the whole band."

  • About Sing50

  • Sing50 is organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times to mark Singapore's Golden Jubilee.

    The show celebrates 50 years of songs and music composed, performed or made popular by Singapore performers, and will include different languages and music genres. It brings together some of the biggest names in the local music scene, including Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Dick Lee, The Oddfellows. They will be joined by international performers - Chinese pianist Lang Lang and Apl.de.ap from US pop band The Black Eyed Peas.

    Mapletree Investments, Resorts World Sentosa and Zurich Insurance are the main sponsors. The show is produced by The Rice Company and supported by Steinway Gallery Singapore.

    All Sing50 tickets have been distributed. Ticket holders who are not able to attend are encouraged to pass them to those who can. For every person who attends, Zurich Insurance will donate $5 to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.


    WHERE: National Stadium

    WHEN: Friday. Pre-concert event is at 5.30pm, concert from 7.30 to 9.30pm

The Quests' founder and rhythm guitarist Jap Chong died last year from a heart attack, while guitarist Reggie Verghese died in June from heart failure.

Ismail is the youngest member of The Pinholes, which have been around for 13 years. The four-man band also comprise frontman and main songwriter Famie Suliman, 35, guitarist-singer Didi Hanafiah, 27, and bassist Wando Diao, 25.

They have been busy working on a new song, which will be launched at Sing50.

For 28-year-old Sezairi, winner of Singapore Idol 2009, it is "extraordinary" to be in the "presence" of rock legend Ramli Sarip. He will be performing alongside Ramli in a Malay segment, together with veteran songstress Rahimah Rahim, pop yeh-yeh pioneer Jeffrydin and folk rocker Art Fazil.

Calling Ramli "one of the most influential Malay musicians in the past few decades", Sezairi says: "It's crazy because people talk about him with so much passion and gusto and his songs were the soundtracks of so many people's lives.

"As a singer-songwriter, I can only hope that maybe 20 to 30 years from now, people will talk about Sezairi's songs the same way."

Jack Ho of pop-rock duo Jack & Rai is glad that the concert is paying tribute to many of these pioneering artists.

The 38-year-old says: "The musicians from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s actually paved the way for us to be able to do what we do today. It is a continuous process and we are lucky to be on the same stage with people like Vernon and Rahimah."

At Sing50, Jack & Rai will be performing a medley of one of their defining hits and a recently released single.

Ho says: "Sing50 has a special place in our hearts because it is primarily all about the music. It is a privilege to be a part of it because it is headed by home-grown talents."

Indian composer and musician Mohamed Raffee found it timely that Singapore's Golden Jubilee year coincided with the 40th anniversary of his band, The Vasantham Boys.

Raffee started his band when he was 15 in 1975, together with his younger brothers Mohamed Noor, Mohamed Bashir and a friend Daniel Sitranen. Well known in the Tamil music industry, The Vasantham Boys will be performing a medley of five original songs at the concert.

Raffee, 54, says: "The four of us are still around and have been playing music for a long time. We wanted to be a part of Sing50 as it is like celebrating our band's 40th anniversary on Singapore's 50th anniversary."

He adds: "Having spent 40 years in the entertainment industry, I have seen Singapore grow to 50 years of age. As a musician, I feel a duty to be part of Sing50."

For pop-rock singer Wendi Koh, who was a top female performer in the live-band scene in the 1990s, it was a "pleasant surprise" to be called back for the concert.

"I produce shows for corporate events and it's a different world. To be called back for something as big as Sing50, I'm grateful to be able to do my little bit for the event."

She left the nightclub circuit in 2002 and has been a creative consultant for corporate events for the past 15 years.

At Sing50, Koh, 48, will perform in a rock segment alongside rocker Douglas Oliveiro. It is the first time the two are working together on an item.

"Everybody has this impression that we have performed together before, but we have never. This is the first time and, for me, this is history," she says. Koh acknowledges that this is an opportunity that does not come by often.

"Everyone is so busy with their gigs and the fact that I got to chat with Douglas again, it's like a reunion. To get that calibre of people all on one project at one time like this, that is special to me and I love it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline 'About Sing50 Paying tribute to pioneer artists'. Print Edition | Subscribe