Veteran Malay singer R. Ismail dies after being hospitalised for heart and thyroid issues

Veteran Malay singer R. Ismail sang for classic Malay films in the 1960s. PHOTO: ELFEE ISMAIL / FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Veteran Malay singer R. Ismail, whose singing career dates back to the 1960s, died at Sengkang General Hospital on Sept 13. The Singaporean was 83.

His songs, such as Gurindam Jiwa (Soul Poetry), a duet with late singer Rafeah Buang, are popular in Singapore and Malaysia.

Berita Harian reported that he had been in the hospital's intensive care unit for a week for heart and thyroid issues.

He hails from a musical family. His father, A. Rahman, was a singer in the 1930s and 1940s.

Two of his 10 children are also popular Malay singers - Elfee Ismail and Iskandar Ismail. He last sang with them at Gurindam Jiwa - An Evening With R. Ismail, a concert he headlined at the Esplanade Theatre Studio in 2018.

In the 1960s, he sang for classic Malay films such as romantic drama Bidasari (1965) and fantasy drama Jula Juli Bintang Tujuh (Jula Juli Seven Stars, 1962). Gurindam Jiwa was from the soundtrack of the similarly titled 1965 film.

He lived in Kuala Lumpur for a decade and returned to Singapore in 2017.

Personalities from the Malay entertainment industry took to social media to pay tribute to the late singer. Singer Sufi Rashid and host-actor Khairudin Samsudin both called him "a legend" in the arts and entertainment scene.

His body was buried at Pusara Aman Muslim cemetery in Choa Chu Kang.

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