Salamiah Hassan and her daughter, Atilia Haron, share strong bonds, writes Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli
Veteran singer Salamiah Hassan and her daughter, Atilia Haron, have a strong bond, to the point where their relationship can be mistaken for “sisters” or “best friends” rather than mother and daughter.
Nevertheless, they don’t get to spend the first day of Hari Raya together. Well, not in the morning anyway.
“I usually spend the first day with my dad (Raja Haron Raja Aziz, who separated from Salamiah in 1986), while my mother spends her day with her side of the family. It’s been this way for a few years now,” says Atilia.
“I will call her in the morning to wish her Selamat Hari Raya and then meet her later in the evening.”
Atilia, 38, and Salamiah, 61, spend a lot of quality time together, so when it comes to Raya, the latter understands if her daughter needs to spend time with her father.
“Hari Raya is a special day and Atilia needs to make time for other people,” says Salamiah. “I don’t want to make her day more stressful by having her think about it too much.”
It may be a hectic day spent visiting relatives and friends but “everybody should do so with sincerity in their hearts”, says Atilia.
Salamiah usually spends Hari Raya with her siblings and together they visit the graves of their parents. She wants to spend as much time with her family as she can because everybody’s getting older.
“Atilia and her brother don’t have to wait for Raya to seek for forgiveness from me,” she says.
Atilia echoes her mother’s sentiments. “It is our tradition to ask our elders for forgiveness. No matter how busy we are, we always see our parents and ask for forgiveness. Hari Raya is also about sharing food, joy and laughter, and spending quality time with family.”
Meanwhile Salamiah is a “queen” at making pulut kuning and rendang, which she learnt from her late mother.
Laughing, Atilia says: “I don’t cook at all during Raya, because there’s so much food. My dad has a big family while my mother has 11 siblings who are all masters at cooking, so I usually just go and eat.”
She recalls an unforgettable moment during her childhood when she followed her friends to collect duit Raya.
“We climbed in and out of the drains in Shah Alam. We devised a plan to use drains to move from Seksyen 3 to Seksyen 2 as fast as possible. My blue baju kurung turned dark grey.”
Another memorable moment was when Atilia was 5. Salamiah had to go to work, so mum and daughter caught a mini bus from Gombak to KL Hilton.
Children were not allowed in, so Salamiah gave Atilia her milk bottle and hid her behind the counter at an entertainment outlet. One of the employees looked after her while Salamiah sang.
Meanwhile, Salamiah’s fondest memory of Raya when she was a child, was when her mother made matching baju kurung for the two of them.
“I’ve always been small, so there was just enough material for the both of us. Every year my mother and I would have one or two similar baju kurung.”
Atilia says this Raya will be simple like always but more special for her and Salamiah, since they’ve grown closer than ever. “We have learnt so much from each other over the years, so we’ll be celebrating with joy and happiness.”
Salamiah agrees. “I am thankful to God for giving me another year to be with the people that I love.”
Atilia and Salamiah have another event to look forward to next month: An Evening With Atilia & Salamiah — Be Strong. It’s their first concert together though they have performed together at corporate shows. The charity event is in aid of Mas Merah Single Mothers Association. The duo want to pay tribute to single mothers. Atilia remembers being singled out in school because she came from a broken family and her mum is a singer.
The two are in the process of selecting the songs for the concert. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s also an opportunity for my mother and I to spend even more time together,” says Atilia. “It started as a surprise birthday present for Mama, but (her birthday) has already passed.”
Healthcare brand Himalaya is working together with Atilia and Salamiah for the event and their celebrity friends are helping to promote it.
“The emcee will be comedienne Joanne Kam, a single mother,” says Atilia. “I will perform first. Then Joanne will do her stand-up comedy, followed by my mother’s set. Lastly, we will perform a duet.”
She adds that there will be more mum-daughter collaborations, perhaps a song or another concert.
BUSY AS A BEE
Atilia has been extremely busy of late, despite the fasting month. She’s just back from Paris last week, where she attended a short course with Mix With The Masters on a programme for recording engineers to work closely with some of the industry’s greats.
“I don’t have that many shows during the fasting month, so it is the only time when I can get away. I also took a short trip to Amsterdam,” she says.
Recently, Atilia has signed with Indonesian management label Demajors to release her second album, Indah, there. She will be spending some time in Jakarta for that purpose.
“Meanwhile, Lat The Musical will be re-staged in early December, so I’ll also be busy reprising my role as Datuk Lat’s wife, Faezah,” adds Atilia.
She is cutting her third album under Mujik Productions and will be performing at various corporate shows. In addition, she and her friends Daphne Iking and Yasmin Hani have started an online boutique for fashion called Bajuku.
“Hani and I choose the material and design, while Daphne writes articles to promote the business. It is fun.”
Jazz music has its following, albeit limited. Still, Atilia has never thought of crossing over to another genre.
“I don’t think I’ll ever allow her,” says Salamiah. “I don’t want her to become like me. I am a jazz singer, but I crossed over to make money. Atilia doesn’t have to because she’s already made it.”
Atilia admits that she loves all kinds of music but when she sings and writes songs, she automatically turns to jazz..
“I just have to be strong in in the face of competition from other singers and genres. My move to go to Jakarta will strengthen my niche,” she says. “It’s not easy for Malaysian artistes to release albums in Indonesia but fans there have shown interest in my music, so I’d like to give it a try.”
Meanwhile, Salamiah will be a guest artiste on Carefree’s latest album (yet to be titled). Apart from that, she has received many bookings to perform at corporate shows.
There are no plans for her to come up with a new album. “It’s difficult to do an album nowadays, because it takes a lot of time. I am more of a performer than an album singer. It was just coincidental that I was offered to release my albums previously.”
However, she won’t decline to contribute to Atilia’s upcoming album.
She says that if she retires, she is assured that Atilia will take care of her. Atilia pipes in: “You have to sell cookies, then!”
Salamiah adds: “However, as an independent woman who has always been working, I don’t think I will ever retire.”
NOTE: An Evening With Atilia & Salamiah — Be Strong will be held on Sept 3 at Jasmine Junior Ball, Level C, One World Hotel. Call 03-7956 7012.