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Monday, October 22, 2007

cover for Lilis Surjani's 007 45"


I played Ulang Tahun Kakek from the "007" EP on the May 25th 2008 podcast

(Lilis Surjani previous blog post)

Legendary Indonesian singer, Lilis Surjani, passed away on Oct 7 2007.

Legendary singer Lilis Surjani, a true national treasure of Indonesia, passed away on October 7, 2007. She died after a long battle with cancer but even from her hospital bed, managed to sing a couple of songs shortly before she passed away (the youtube video of this made me cry- which i accidentally watched when searching for clips of her singing)

In my own opinion, Lilis Surjani had one of those rare voices that could simultaneously make you laugh and bring tears to your eyes when you hear it... laughter for knowing how beautiful life can be, and tears because the beautiful things in life are so fleeting .. her voice will live on..

here's some history in english about Lilis Surjani (sometimes spelled Suryani):
"The famous singer Lilis Suryani who died recently on 7 october 2007, was from a simple family and lived in the Gang Kelinci neigbourhood in Jakarta [which] is near the Pasar Baru Area in Central Jakarta. Behind the big stores of this well known shopping district is a totally different microcosm with narrow alleys and even narrower side-alleys, teeming with life, this is Gang Kelinci or ("Rabbit Alley") I do not know if it still exists today, Jakarta is changing rapidly.
At the age of a schoolgirl, Lilis Suryani already wanted to be a radio-star. Since she wanted help reaching her goal, she just went to the house of Titiek Puspa for advice. Titiek Puspa was a very well known singer already with quite a career, an important fact, she was also a composer, of her own songs and also songs for other artists. Titiek Puspa did not send her away, she even wanted to help the young girl. So she introduced Lilis into the world of music. One day Titiek Puspa accompanied Lilis back home to Gang Kelinci. Seeing the neigbourhood, packed with people everywhere she became inspired to write the song " Gang Kelinci " for Lilis Suryani. This song became one of her best-known ones. So this song is from her real life.
Another song from her is "Bintang Leo" ( The Constellation or, sign of Leo ) which is really her sign as she was born on august 22, 1948"

--special thanks to Huub for sharing this story.. information about artists like Lilis Surjani is rarely written in English. I hope more will be written about the popular musicians of Indonesia in the future... the world should know about singers like Lilis Surjani.

heres some added information about Lilis Surjani from my friend, Huub:

"..The text [above] is taken from old Indonesian music and other magazines.
There are still heaps of them in my house, daring from 1968 till recently.
Also to be found on Internet: interesting Indonesian blogs and websites of Indonesian Newspapers.
But in this case one must be able to read Indonesian.
More facts about Lilis Suryani: Her praise song for President Sukarno "Untuk PJM Presiden Sukarno"... The founder of the nation liked the singer, she also visited his palace. The President did not like all musicians however: The group "Koes Plus" was sent to Jail. They were jailed because Sukarno did not like the attitude and stage-acts of western groups ( like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles) he feared that their lifestyle would influence the youth in Indonesia. The all girl group "Dara Puspita" nearly had the same fate. Koes Plus and Dara Puspita did live concerts on stage in the same style as groups from Europe and USA.

Lilis Suryani was after the fall of President Sukarno critisized singing "communist" songs ( Genjer-Genjer )
It is a song of pity for the very poor who only feed themselves with a sort of herb that is growing alongside roads ( Genjer ).
The song was adopted by members of the communist party, and became one of their hymns.
At the second presidency "the new order" this song was forbidden

and he continues...

"To continue: Genjer just a sort of herb that grows alongside rivers.
As I stated before "Genjer genjer " was originally not a commie song, but just a song of pity, when during the Japanese occupation many people died of starvation and others could only survive by eating genjer. Especially in the province of East Java the situation was hopeless. In the fifties and sixties still many poor people were to be found in this province.
The communist party was not forbidden under president Sukarno, the founder of the nation.
A group of Generals with their leader Suharto were not content with the situation. Sukarno was forced to resign, thousands of communists and so-called communists were killed or arrested and put in jail for many years. There was also a socialist party under President Sukarno. After the Suharto-coup this party was forbidden also but the punishments were not as severe as with the commies. So the song "Genjer-genjer" became a taboo-song. In fact this pityful song was annexed by the commies and sung during their meetings.
Lilis Suryani had also a few song in which she praised the military, this was during the "cold war" with Malaysia in the sixties under president Sukarno. A strange thing is she is still populair in Malaysia.
It could be [that] she apoligized for her dress, I dont know if she was accused by someone or some group. [i had asked this because of information i read on the blog link below stating that she formally apologised for singing beatle-like songs]
The most criticized musicians were the groups who did stage acts with hip-shaking and other kind of gestures.
Under the Sukarno regime this was considered un-Indonesian and undermining the morals of the young people.
Sukarno was anti-western in his speeches and many people were afraid he would become a communist himself.
Especially people in the USA were afraid Indonesia would become new communist Nation in Asia, like North Korea and North Vietnam."

THANKS for sharing the information Huub!!

here's a cool blog post with some mp3s of Lilis for you to listen to.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

PODCAST LINK - Interview with Dennis Alcapone (complete show in 4 parts available at


Friday, October 12, 2007

If Music Could Talk - Interview with Hudost- Oct 6 2007


"HuDost is a Music ensemble whose core musicians are singer/songwriters Moksha Sommer and Jemal Wade Hines.

What commenced as an acoustic duo project has developed into a fully produced ensemble with Dan Walters on bass, John de Kadt on percussion, George Tortorelli on flutes, Linda Worster on vocals and guitar, and other occasional guests. The ensemble functions as a collective, bringing in musicians of varying sensibilities and backgrounds.

HuDost’s original work ranges in style from 'Alternative World Music' to their own 'Country and Eastern' fusion, and atmospheric, experimental sound. This is mixed with the rich, eclectic blending of traditional Sufi music, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian and Balkan folk music, Farsi, Turkish, Arabic, Folk, Pop, Rock and Southern Gospel.

HuDost performances range from the duo of Moksha and Jemal Wade to the full ensemble mode, which includes performance art, video installation and dance."

here's their website: LINK

Friday, October 05, 2007

FESTIVAL of INDIA - this weekend

"26th Annual Festival of India will be held on Saturday Oct. 6 and Sunday Oct. 7 from 11 AM thru 8 PM at the Richmond Convention Center located at 403 North Third St. Admission is free. Authentic India foods, fashions, jewelry and live entertainment will be featured. The Festival is organized by the Hindu Center of Virginia, a non-profit organization. This fund-raising event benefits Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross as well as building fund for the expansion of the Hindu Center."

Festival of India

PODCAST LINK from If Music Could Talk

the very special guest for this program was none other than Joanne Summerfield (aka Joanne Ginsberg for some of her published works), the eloquent 60's and 70's New York radio personality, author, poet, activist, ..and mother. Also featured are reel to reel recordings of her poetry and radio broadcasts (transferred to CD and heard for the first time since they were recorded 30 years ago)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar - Live next week

Oct 13th in DC, Oct 17th in Baltimore

master sitar player , Pandit Ravi Shankar needs no introduction..but here's a video clip to get you inspired- (its much better LIVE though)

here's a video about the making of Anoushka's latest album...

Ravi Shankar homepage

tour dates here

WRIR Fundraiser - this week, till Wednesday

please support WRIR Richmond Independent radio

make a donation to the station here

Also, come check out WRIR's community art show tonight! see flyer

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Malaysian Government bans Beyonce

Beyonce Knowles was ordered by conservative groups within the Malaysian government to basically, put on some clothes or no concert. Beyonce cancelled and moved her show to neighboring Indonesia. (Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, and Gwen Stefani have also allegedly been targeted by the Malaysian government as artists who fit the "negative influence" profile).

From western eyes, this may be seen as "ridiculous" and prudish. However, Malaysia is mainly an Islamic country whose government tries very hard to maintain traditional values. What may be the norm in the US, and even acceptable in neighboring Thailand and Indonesia, doesn't always go over well in Malaysia- at least in the eyes of the "authorities". However, there's No Doubt (lol) that cultural attitudes are changing, especially among young people in Malaysia. The internet plays a big role in this, and outside influences are hard to keep hidden from the youth. They have so much access to information from other parts of the world. There are far more dangerous things in my opinion than Beyonce's barely covered body, but I'd hate to think that young Malaysian folks would trade the music coming from their own rich cultural history for the music of Justin Timberlake. I am a Malaysian music fanatic. But maybe they, like me, want something different.

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