KUALA LUMPUR: Renowned singer-songwriter Zee Avi is about as inspirational as it gets. One of the very rare Malaysian artistes with the talent to break into the international market, Zee is the perfect symbol of what one can achieve with one’s dreams.
It is more than fitting that she was chosen to write and perform the theme song, Arena Cahaya, to the uplifting new movie, OlaBola, by Chiu Keng Guan, the award-winning director who brought Malaysians the heartfelt family drama The Journey last year.
OlaBola tells the story of a multi-cultural football team struggling against all odds to win their way into the history books, and how the members unite to help each other overcome personal tribulations to reach a collective goal.
It is a film that celebrates the beauty of the human spirit that unites us all as Malaysians and drives us to realise our dreams.
There is no better artiste to understand this spirit than Zee, who started out as only an amateur musician posting videos on YouTube before becoming the first Malaysian to have albums on the US Billboard Hot 200 chart.
Her own story is also one of struggling against the impossible, of persevering and sticking to her dreams of performing around the world.
“I’m really honoured to have been invited by director Chiu for this task,” said the 30-year-old singer, who is currently based in the US.
“His films are all outstanding and I’ve been an admirer of his work. He first contacted me through Facebook chat, and when he asked me to write the theme song to his latest movie, naturally I jumped at the chance without a second thought.”
As to why he chose Zee, Chiu said, “Her approach to music and songwriting is always fresh. That was what I wanted for OlaBola. But what’s most important is that she appeals to all Malaysians. I also like her dauntless personality that has gotten her this far in her career.”
Arena Cahaya is co-produced by Zee and her good friend Rendra Zawawi who is also based in the US. Zee didn’t just sing and play the guitar, but was also involved in the arrangement of the music.
Prior to writing and recording the song, Zee had returned to Kuala Lumpur to meet Chiu, who presented snippets of the movie to her.
Even though they were only clips from the actual movie, Zee found herself moved to tears by the warm and profound tales of the various characters, which gave her the impetus to write a song that would appropriately reflect the sentiments in the movie.
“The song is written in two languages, Malay and English, to reflect a country like Malaysia that is made up of diverse cultures,” said Zee, who hails from Miri, Sarawak.
“It is my sincere hope that through this song, Malaysians will be brought together by what unites us in harmony, and be reminded of the moments when we fought against all odds towards a common goal,” she said.
Arena Cahaya, with its lilting acoustic feel and gentle swells of emotion, was completed in a month, and as a testament to Zee’s unique talent, was approved by Chiu without a single alteration to the music or lyrics.
Zee is, of course, a fan of the Sarawak football team, and she has faith that OlaBola will become yet another hit and a record-breaker.
She sincerely hopes Arena Cahaya will become an anthem for all Malaysians, in sports or any other endeavour, to inspire them to greater heights.
Arena Cahaya makes its debut today on Era fm, Sinar FM, hitz fm, Mix fm, Lite FM, THR Gegar, THR Raaga, My FM and Melody FM.
OlaBola is scheduled for release in early 2016.
In association with Woo Hoo Pictures, OlaBola is presented and produced by Astro Shaw, Astro’s film production subsidiary, which has scored several blockbuster movies in the past year: The Journey, Suamiku Encik Perfect 10!, Pilot Cafe and Polis Evo.