With a career that has spanned decades,
Rahimah Rahim still attends vocal training classes and believes in active-ageing, writes Shuib Taib
YOU can always spot a star a mile away, much like what happened at a recent event organised by Media Prima for the recording of Melodi Raya 2016.
In the lobby of The Royal Chulan Damansara, walking towards the ballroom was a woman with an Erykah Badu-styled headgear. She looked a little too young to be Singaporean singer Rahimah Rahim, but it was indeed the Gadis Dan Bunga singer.
Meeting someone like Kak Gerl, as she is fondly known, is special since she comes from an era where she has rubbed shoulders with the likes of the late Datuk Sudirman Arshad, the late Datuk Sharifah Aini and Anita Sarawak, just to name a few music icons who all have strong charisma and persona of their own.
Rahimah is right up that alley.
Despite her full-time job at a law firm in the island republic, Rahimah is still actively performing. Now 60, she has released more than 12 albums to date (excluding compilations). She explained why singing is still her passion.
“I love singing but I don’t consider myself a great singer. I am more of an entertainer and singing happens to be a part of the whole act which includes a bit of dancing and talking to your audience,” said Rahimah, whose famous hits include Masihkah Ada Cinta, Cintamu, Jika Begini, Doa and Bebas.
“When you are onstage, you need to focus on your audience and create rapport.”
Over the years, Rahimah has made many heads turn. She’s no stranger to fame, since her first taste of the glitz and glamour came with the movie Korban Kasih where she had a cameo appearance as a 6-year-old. Since then, she had gone on to do bigger things.
Although her mother, Mariam Baharom, was an actress and her father, Rahim Hamid, was a popular singer known as the Nat King Cole of Singapore, Rahimah came into her own and became an overnight sensation and everyone’s sweetheart at 19 after she won the Kimi Koso Talentime, an Asia-wide singing competition held in Japan in 1974.
At the peak of her career, Rahimah, who also sings fluently in Mandarin, Japanese and English, had packed Stadium Negara Kuala Lumpur with her solo concert in the late 1970s, and was a regular performer at exclusive clubs belonging to the Hilton hotel chains across the region, Australia and East Asia.
Indeed, the first Kuala Lumpur Hilton in Jalan Sultan Ismail was familiar ground to Rahimah who often performed at its club, The Paddock.
“Some people ask me why I still sing at my age. But singing is a form of breathing exercise. At my age, I find active-ageing is important and that is why I’m still taking vocal training from professionals,” said Rahimah, adding that Singapore’s recording artiste Ann Hussein is one of her three vocal coaches.
Rahimah said that from her theatre specialist vocal coach, she not only learns the correct way to project vocals but also how to camouflage weaknesses.
“As an entertainer, my singing is not always pitch perfect but you learn to cover that up with jokes and interesting and personal anecdotes. As an audience, I have watched hundreds of concerts but I am not a fan of perfect singing, if you know what I mean,” she said.
“I enjoy performances by Earth, Wind & Fire where it is always packed with energy. If I want to listen to great singing, I can always turn on the radio.”
Rahimah, who does brisk walking to gain stamina, has done some TV work in Singapore, mostly health-based (“to go with my age,” she said with a giggle). She is a regular feature on Body & Soul and Drinks List, two TV programmes that deal with wellness.
Come September, she will be among the guest artistes at Singapore’s Esplanade, in a tribute concert to music icon of the 1970s and 1980s, Jeremy Monteiro, dubbed Singapore’s King Of Swing. Then she will perform at the President Star charity gala.
Catch her this Hari Raya on TV3’s Melodi Raya 2016, airing on July 10 and 17 at 12.30pm, where she will be taking audience down memory lane with her past hits. There will also be a special duet with Siti Sarah.
Asked on tips for looking youthful, Rahimah smiled.
“I can’t speak for others but I am happy that I have a balanced life, one on stage and as a normal person. I think it has kept me happy all my life,” she said as she made her way to the stage and into the limelight.