Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is this the sultry-voiced 18-year-old folksinger I met so many years ago?

Anna Salleh belts it out at No Black Tie (September 2002)

Portrait of a torch singer

Anna used to be in a Sydney-based a cappella group

Jazz is her passion now (photos by Antares)

I was introduced to Anna Salleh in 1983 by her proud father, the larger-than-life bilingual poet, columnist, actor and playwright Salleh Ben Joned (pictured left). Having just bought myself a guitar a couple of years earlier, I was bowled over when Anna picked up hers and played me a couple of her own songs.

You could say I was immediately smitten by her uninhibited spirit, her strong melodious voice, and her Eurasian good looks (her mother Ariel is Australian, married her father while he was doing his Masters in English literature in Tasmania).

Lat's classic portrait of Salleh Ben Joned as a bohemian poet

But, dammit, she had just turned 18. I was only 33 then but it did seem like a huge age gap (how silly of me to even think it!). At the time I was still part of a nuclear family with two lovely daughters aged 14 and 12; and, besides, the thought of having Salleh Ben Joned as a father-in-law lent the whole prospect a somewhat surreal, if not entirely absurd, dimension, much as I love the man. Anna mentioned, as if in telepathic response to an unspoken question, that she was dating a muso named Peter, who was into folk.

Anna and I kept in sporadic contact over the years. Peter and she were part of a commune called Magic Mountain, mostly populated by artists, musicians, organic farmers, assorted oddballs, maverick scientists, and visionaries. Perhaps it was Anna's description of life at Magic Mountain that inspired my establishing the Magick River community nine years later.

My first trip to Australia was in 1991 as a guest of the Department of Foreign Affairs who sponsored a 23-day tour of five cities. I had a fantastic time meeting musicians, filmmakers, theatre activists. mystics and high-tech shamans. During my brief stay in Sydney, Anna dropped in at my tiny hotel and we had a long, leisurely natter. At the time she was part of a professional a cappella group. She was also struggling to obtain her degree in some esoteric branch of biology, while holding down a rather mundane day job, I forget what. And she was still mesmerizingly beautiful. Indeed, I thought Anna had improved with age. Take a look at these videos recorded a few weeks ago at No Black Tie...



Black Orpheus (Luiz Bonfá and Antonio Maria) performed by Anna Salleh (guitar/vocals) and friends (Xiong on guitar; Badar on percussion; Wan Azfarezal on bass) live @ Kuala Lumpur's 'No Black Tie' (12 October 2009).



Semalam di Malaya (Saiful Bahri) performed by Anna Salleh (guitar/vocals) and friends (Xiong on guitar; Badar on percussion; Wan Azfarezal on bass) live @ Kuala Lumpur's, 'No Black Tie' (12 October 2009).



Summer Samba/So Nice
(Marcos Valle/Norman Gimbel) performed by Anna Salleh (guitar/vocals) and friends (Xiong on guitar; Badar on percussion; Wan Azfarezal on bass) live @ Kuala Lumpur's, 'No Black Tie' (12 October 2009).

What a smashing diva, don't you think? Anna's back in Sydney at her day job writing and producing features for ABC Science Online - but she says she plans to spend a lot more time in Malaysia exploring her roots. I think that's an absolutely fabulous idea, Anna!

Say, how about one more number from the delectable Anna Salleh, folks? And if you still haven't had enough, check out her YouTube channel.




So Danco Samba
(Vinícius de Moraes/Antonio Carlos Jobim) performed by Anna Salleh (guitar/vocals) and friends (Xiong on guitar; Badar (R) and Toninho (L) on percussion; Wan Azfarezal on bass) live @ Kuala Lumpur's, 'No Black Tie' (12 October 2009).

3 comments:

Pak Sako said...

Sweet post. I play Luis Bonfa (and Jobim) on my solo guitar and I thought I was the only one!

moonlight lovers said...

It's not impossible. Age is only a number. The heart knows no age, only love. Believe me.

Patricia said...

What a mesmerizing voice. Sultry, husky, warm. And so alive. I just loved all three vids.

Salleh Joned was one of my lecturers when I was in UM ages ago. I remember him loving music. He must have passed on his love to her.

A lovely, lovely voice. And she makes beautiful music with her friends.

Thanks for sharing, Antares.