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A No-Nonsense Mentor

12 Aug

Azmeer with One Nation Emcees.

Azmeer with One Nation Emcees.

DENNIS CHUA speaks to the ‘Alex Ferguson’ of Gang Starz, Azhar Abu Bakar.

DESCRIBED as Asean talent search Gang Starz’s answer to no-nonsense Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Azhar Abu Bakar makes it clear to his students, or the show’s contestants, that he “kicks butt”.

“You have to be cruel to be kind. As a young and aspiring singer and composer in the 1980s and 1990s, my mentors were no different.

“They used to shout at me if my work was not good. And that was why I worked hard to improve my skills and make it in the music industry,” he said.

Recalling his experiences with his no-nonsense mentors back then, the programme adviser of Gang Starz said that when he first became an artiste, acclaimed producer Datuk Aziz Bakar told him point-blank that his performances were lousy.

“He said I was not fit to sit in his place. This really hurt my feelings, but I subsequently strived extra hard to show him I could do it. Seven years down the road, I finally pleased him,” he said.

Another “terrifying” mentor who coached Azmeer was acclaimed composer S. Atan.

“He was the real Sir Alex. He yelled abuses at me if I did not perform well as a singer, and I’m always grateful to him for pushing my limits,” he said.

As the students’ main coach, Azmeer, 42, says he is only “half the terror” that his mentors were, because he “never hurls profanities at them when he is mad”.

“I believe in being ‘brutal’ and honest, ticking them off for lousy performances and making sure they work hard every day for their weekly concerts.

“At times, I even make them sing while carrying chairs. They may feel the pain of such harsh discipline, but at the end of the day, they thank me for it,” he said, adding that it was better to be “abused” by a frank mentor than by fans who see a lousy performance.

“If one is to be a successful entertainer, he or she has to train under harsh discipline. Only then can a star be born.”

However, mentoring students is not all about being nasty.

“You have to give them credit where credit is due too. All good mentors, including the ‘terrors’ who coached me, did the same,” he said.

Azmeer has been programme adviser for two seasons of Gang Starz.

He shares his position with Damian Seet of VE fame and choreographer Sazlan Mat Adnan, handling performances, vocals and choreography.

Azmeer, who hails from Bayan Lepas in Penang, has been an entertainer for 19 years.

The youngest of five children of a police officer, he has two ballad-oriented albums to his credit – Kenangan Lalu in 1989 and Azmeer in 1992.

“My maternal great-grandfather was a back-up singer for the legendary R. Azmi. I guess I inherited his talent,” he said.

Azmeer studied law at a private college in Singapore for a year in 1988 before he chose to pursue a music career.

Besides Atan, he was also trained by Ramli MS and Indonesian composer, Pance Pondaag of Tak Ingin Sendiri fame.

On June 14, 1990, Azmeer was involved in a car accident in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, which virtually put a stop to his stage acts.

“I damaged the cornea of my right eye in the car crash and stayed in hospital for a month. After that, I decided to concentrate on composing and songwriting, though I occasionally sing with other artistes,” he said, adding that his trademark dark glasses were equipped with special lenses to aid his right eye.

He is married to fellow songwriter Azira Azid and has three children.

Azmeer’s famous compositions include Purnama Merindu, a hit for Datuk Siti Nurhaliza which helped her win the Asia Music Festival 2002 in Beijing, China, Ziana Zain’s Menadah Gerimis (Best Ballad in Anugerah Juara Lagu 2002) and Liza Hanim’s Andainya Aku Bersuara (Anugerah Juara Lagu 2001 finalist).

Azmeer also composed and wrote Sharifah Zarina’s hit song Langit Ketujuh (he also sang with her) and Mentor Season 2 winner Fiq Abdul Halim’s Tiga Malam Tanpa Bintang.

Misha Omar’s latest single, Cinta Adam Dan Hawa, was also composed by Azmeer, as was Amy Mastura’s 1995 hit Harapan Semalam.

Azmeer has also written the script for Senario’s comedic appearances on the big and small screen besides composing the funnymen’s hit songs such as Cepat Kaya, Cari Tapak and Sebelum Dan Sesudah.

“I also composed songs for Saiful Apek as a soloist after he left the troupe,” he said.

From 2005 to 2006, Azmeer served as programme adviser for Mentor.

“The show, which lasted two seasons, was a very good initiative by TV3. Sadly, there were not many established artistes who were willing to participate as mentors due to their busy schedules,” he said.

“Nevertheless, there came Gang Starz and it’s a far better programme because it unites young and talented new singers in all of Asean’s original member countries.”

Azmeer believes that a regional talent search will push new local artistes, and even some established ones, to “soar higher”.

“It is good, healthy competition, a chance to learn from neighbouring countries and better oneself,” he said.

Azmeer thinks Gang Starz could not have come at a better time because there was hardly any talent search for vocal groups, as opposed to soloists.

“Damian, Sazlan and I auditioned prospective candidates for the show. More than 5,000 Malaysians auditioned, as well as about 500 Indonesians, 200 Thais, 100 Singaporeans and 300 Filipinos,” he said.

Of the top fine groups in this year’s contest – namely, Malaysia’s One Nation Emcees and Akasia, Indonesia’s D’Reborn and the Philippines’ Paragon Child and 3.5 – he said they all deserve to come this far.

“However, I wish Indonesia’s third group, 3 Voices, could have stayed a little longer. They have great potential, despite their lack of confidence at times,” he said.

On ways to improve the show, Azmeer suggests that some contestants be allowed to play musical instruments.

῕ The Gang Starz final will be held on Aug 24 at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam at 9 pm.

 

New Straits Times

Program Avon Khas Untuk Mak Andam

17 Jul

Oleh WANDA IDRIS

KEJAYAAN penganjuran program Selebriti Bersama Avon memberi semangat kepada penganjurnya, syarikat jualan langsung Avon Cosmetics Sdn. Bhd. (Avon), untuk meneruskan program realiti tersebut.

Bagaimanapun, konsepnya akan diubah dengan membuka penyertaan kepada umum berbanding musim pertamanya yang menumpukan kepada kolaborasi antara artis dengan jurusolek pilihan mereka.

Menurut Presiden Avon Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam dan Indonesia, Mansoor Wan Abdullah, perubahan itu akan memberikan khalayak lebih peluang untuk menyertai program tersebut.

“Mungkin kita akan buat satu pertandingan bermula daripada peringkat daerah, negeri dan kemudian kebangsaan,” katanya pada sidang akhbar selepas selesai episod akhir program Selebriti Bersama Avon di ibu kota baru-baru ini.

Majlis yang merupakan kemuncak program realiti kecantikan itu menyaksikan Raja Farah yang disolek oleh Fifi diumumkan sebagai Selebriti Make-Over Terbaik.

Tempat kedua dan ketiga pula masing-masing dimenangi oleh Liza AF1 yang disolek oleh Zakiah Eloma dan Edlin AF2 yang dirias oleh Ismept.

Hadir sama pada majlis tersebut ialah Timbalan Ketua Penyiaran (Rancangan) RTM, Adilah Chek Omar.

Mansoor berkata, untuk musim kedua program tersebut, pihaknya berhasrat untuk menjemput mak andam dari seluruh negara menyertainya memandangkan kerjaya itu semakin popular sejak kebelakangan ini.

“Konsepnya masih sama iaitu tentang solekan dan dandanan malah kita juga akan mengajar mereka tentang teknik asas solekan yang betul.

“Cuma pendekatannya mungkin berbeza. Maksudnya, jika tahun ini tema kita selebriti dengan jurusolek artis pilihan mereka, tahun depan mungkin lain. Kita memikirkan untuk mengadakan pertandingan mak andam pula,” jelasnya.

Mansoor memberitahu, program seumpama itu memberikan satu wadah dalam membantu memberikan ilmu dan idea kepada wanita untuk meningkatkan kejelitaan dan perapian diri melalui solekan yang betul daripada pakar-pakar.

“Penglibatan selebriti adalah bonus memandangkan kebanyakan mereka merupakan ikon masyarakat,” tambah Mansoor.

Menyentuh mengenai program pertama Selebriti Bersama Avon yang berkolaborasi dengan RTM sebagai penyiar rasmi, kata Mansoor, ia dimulakan sejak April lalu. Program itu merupakan sebuah rancangan realiti kecantikan bersama selebriti yang julung kali diadakan.

Melibatkan 10 artis bersama jurosolek masing-masing, program itu disiarkan sebanyak 13 episod di RTM1 pada setiap Ahad pukul 12 tengah hari.

Menggunakan kreativiti tersendiri daripada koleksi warna solekan Avon untuk satu make-over, mereka bersaing untuk sampai ke peringkat akhir.

Sebanyak 10 orang selebriti tempatan menyertai pertandingan itu iaitu Siti Nordiana, Lisdawati, Zehra Zambri, Liza AF1, Edlin AF2, Sharifah Zarina, Zarina AF2, Nadia Mustafa, Faradhiya dan Raja Farah.

Namun hanya tujuh terpilih untuk ke final iaitu Siti Nordiana bersama jurusoleknya Midah Khan, Zarina AF2 (Faizal Izwan), Raja Farah (Fifi), Edlin AF2 (Ismept) dan Lisdawati (Royu) yang dipilih pada episod ke-11 sementara Zehra Zambri (Mohd. Zali) dan Liza AF1 (Zakiah Eloma) dipilih masuk hasil undian semula pada episod ke-12.

Kesemua mereka dipilih seratus peratus menerusi undian pesanan khidmat ringkas (SMS) peminat.

Kemuncak program tersebut ialah finale yang menyaksikan Raja Farah dan jurusoleknya Fifi bergelar juara.

Kemenangan itu membolehkan Raja Farah membawa pulang rantai leher berlian dan mutiara Tahiti bernilai RM2,000, wang tunai RM3,000 dan hamper barangan Avon bernilai RM500.

Sementara Fifi pula menerima rantai leher berlian dan mutiara bernilai RM2,000 tajaan Habib Jewels, wang tunai RM500 dan hamper barangan Avon bernilai RM500.

Tempat kedua dan ketiga yang masing-masing dimenangi oleh Liza AF1 dan Edlin AF2 pula memenangi wang tunai berjumlah RM2,000 dan RM1,000, hamper barangan Avon bernilai RM500.

Jurusoleknya pula, Zakiah Eloma dan Ismept masing-masing memenangi wang tunai RM500 serta hamper barangan Avon berjumlah RM500.

Majlis kemuncak yang dihoskan oleh Nita dan Hani Mohsein turut diserikan dengan persembahan nyanyian daripada Ferhad dan Dia Fadila.

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