Wake up to homegrown talents before dreaming of international awards

After close to 20 years I managed to track down my former electone teacher, Angeline Ang.

To my surprise, the mother of three is now based in Cambodia. And she is loving the country every single bit.

During our recent conversation, the accomplished pianist, electone player and violinist said: “I had dinner with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and played the piano with Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali during their visit to Phnom Penh in 2019. That’s an opportunity I would not have if I was in Malaysia.”

It got me thinking. Why are we quick to celebrate foreigners but not our own local talents?

Yet, the treatment is different when our locals are based abroad. Ang, who used to teach in her home in Subang Jaya and later set up her own centre in the Klang Valley, is a perfect example. She dined with the former prime minister and played music with his wife.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the National Music Corporation will be formed in a bid to manage and administer the music industry in the country. The goal – to win Malaysia’s first Grammy award.

That sounds like a grand idea. But before we dream of the Grammys, let’s start by acknowledging and embracing our homegrown talents.

Music is an art form and there is no specific template for creativity. Art must be celebrated based on merit and not on one’s narrow interpretation. If you don’t agree with it, it doesn’t mean it’s not art.

The controversial Wee Meng Chee, or better known as Namewee, is creating content and promoting tourism for countries like Thailand, Taiwan and Japan. He has won numerous international awards. Back home, he ends up visiting police stations.

But it’s amazing there’s not been any boycott or police report lodged against US singer Justin Bieber for his latest hit ‘Peaches’. The first three lines of the song go like this:

I got my peaches out in Georgia (oh, yeah, sh*t)
I get my weed from California (that’s that sh*t)
I took my chick up to the North, yeah (bada** b*tch)

Weed? Chick? B*tch? Where are the anti-marijuana groups? Where are the feminists? If a Malaysian had sung this song, he or she would be condemned.

For the record, the song ‘Peaches’ has topped global charts for the second week. I bet this song will win an international award or two.

And this is part of Grammy winner Billie Eilish’s song ‘Bad Guy’:

I like it when you take control
Even if you know that you don’t
Own me, I’ll let you play the role
I’ll be your animal

Sexual? Indeed, no matter how you see it.

Then there’s Logeswara Rao. Better known as CJL, he released his first single – Lepak Mamak – featuring Satesh and has been making waves in India. He was even featured in the country’s two largest media organisations – The Hindu and Times Of India.

Yet, he remains relatively unknown in Malaysia.

The 25-year-old from Skudai, Johor told Twentytwo13 earlier this week: “My dream is to make it big in Kollywood. I am honoured that I have done a couple of interviews with the Indian media (following the release of his first single). I hope that will be the break I need.”

The same applies to other industries in the country.

Malaysians need to take a step back and realise the potential of those around them before dreaming of winning the Grammys, Hollywood awards or major titles abroad.

Let’s appreciate and embrace homegrown talents.

Tagged with: