One of the hallmarks of a musician who has achieved legendary status and in Sheila Majid’s case, the prestigious honorific “Dato” Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang (DIMP). A blended fusion of east and west, Sheila has not only maintained her relevance but has also garnered deep respect from millennials who continue to revere her musical legacy. This rootedness in her craft, coupled with the ability to resonate across generations, solidifies her status as a true icon in the world of jazz music.
The grand opening at Sentosa Music Fest featured the captivating tunes of Sheila, with a captivated audience bopping along enthusiastically. Other luminaries featured include dynamic duo Jeremy Monteiro and Alberto Marsico. Attendees were brought through a diverse musical journey, complemented by the balmy sea breeze, enchanting views, delectable light bites, auguring a soulful celebration of magical melodies under the stars.
Popspoken: How does it feel to be recognized as Malaysia’s Queen of Jazz, and what responsibilities come with such a title?
Sheila Majid: In the first place, I don’t consider myself as Queen of Jazz. It was a title that was given to me by the media because at that time, I was doing music that was very different from what was already in the market and yes, I do hear some jazz progressions in the arrangement of my music, but frankly, I think my music is more pop and today, it is also known as city pop with elements of jazz.
I guess with the following that I have, I have to be exemplary because I have fans who look up to me and be good, do good, strive for excellence, be disciplined and do things that are good. People know what’s good for them and it’s just a matter if they do it or not. And also to educate my fans and create awareness on issues that I feel that needs to be highlighted because today, there are many things that are happening and that a lot of people are quite ignorant about simply because people don’t read enough anymore and I would suggest that people do research – their own research to come up with their own opinions and not just follow blindly on things that people tell you.
Popspoken: Can you tell us about the challenges and rewards of being a prominent figure in the jazz music scene and how has your experience been in terms of keep the crowd energized in other markets such as Singapore?
Sheila Majid: In my opinion, in any music scene (not just the jazz music scene), you need to have good songs. Songs that people can relate to, songs that are produced well – quality is most important in whatever genre of music that one does. And I must say that I’m quite fortunate in my experience that I had the privilege of working with good songwriters that have made a whole lot of hit songs for me that are still playing today and in what I actually see and observe today in my song Sinaran, which was released in 1986, is now making a comeback to all the Gen-Zs because it’s been remixed and played in a lot of music festivals today.
So to keep yourself relevant, you need to be very particular with the material that you bring to your fans, and I believe in quality over quantity.
Popspoken: How do you think advancements in technology have influenced the creation and appreciation of jazz music, and do you see any futuristic elements influencing your future work?
Sheila Majid: There are the pros and there are the cons.
The pros would be you can auto tune your voice to get your perfect pitch unless what I used to go through when we first started, where we would have to record it 100 times to get the feel right, to get the pitch right, to get everything right. And by the time that we were done with that one recording, we would have already known it by heart compared to how recording is done today where you can just cut and paste, and things are done really quickly. But there is no comparison on a human being playing an instrument compared to a machine because you don’t actually feel the dynamics when a machine is playing an instrument, so I still prefer to have human beings playing the instruments in my music.
And futuristic sounds in my music – but I know it has been done by a band called Daft Punk where they had some futuristic sounds with the music that they do, and it sounds quite nice so who knows?
Stay tuned for future musical experiences to be found on Sentosa Island, where discovery never ends. Visit sentosa.com.sg to explore a range of festivals, performances, and more.