A Gift From The Heart – 24th November, 2010
A charity concert in benefit of “Friends of Kumar” was held last night at the Hard Rock Hotel,
Penang. “A Gift From The Heart” is a joint effort between Hard Rock Hotel, Penang and Zainal Abidin, a well-known Malaysian artist famous for his frequent involvement in fund raising.
The “Friends of Kumar”, is a non-governmental organization to help the hardcore poor and underprivileged children and families. Tickets for the showcase presentation, which were sold out nearly a week ago, were priced at RM 50.00 nett per person with a percentage of ticket sales going to the “Friends of Kumar”.
The close on 500 strong audience packed into the Hall of Fame at the Hard Rock Hotel and took the seats in anticipation of the show to come. Expertly MC’d by the irrepressible Tommy Ong, Entertainment & Vibe Manager of Hard Rock Hotel Penang, the night kicked off with a presentation dance performed by the children from “Friends of Kumar”.
There was an excitement in the air as Tommy then introduced the first guest, who needed no introduction to the rest of the crowd, Dato’ Sheila, who was welcomed with cheers and an almost deferential sigh.
As a newcomer to Malaysia I have to be honest and admit that this was my first introduction to Malaysian music and their musicians. I did not know what to expect but if my 10 years in Thailand had taught me anything, it was to be open-minded. Dato Sheila was poised, smiling and very self-assured as she took to the stage. A star performer from the get-go.
She had the audience, and me, eating out of her hand from the second she mounted the stage. Her voice matched her charisma and we were blessed with a polished and caring performance with her at one stage coming down into the crowd and singing amongst us all.
Her 25 years of performing certainly showed in her stage-craft and confidence even if didn’t on her looks. All I can say is she must have started at a very young age. She was the ideal opening act in that she had the crowd warmed up and ready for what else the night would bring. How often do you get warmed up by a headline act?
At the end of her act, which was met with standing ovations, enthusiastic clapping and catcalls, Tommy came back to announce that at the end of each performance there would be a charity auction of items donated by the artistes themselves. Immediately he produced a box set of Dato Sheila’s C.D.’s which she had also autographed. The bidding was modestly started at RM 100 but with the audience a little reticent to join in, he expertly put the crowd at ease and had the bidding leaping along up to a final bid of RM 1,100.
Amy was then introduced and the crowd was full of his fans as he received a tumultuous welcome. He played a selection of his popular hits and had the place rocking in no-time. His performance started slightly reserved and by mid-set was up on the front row seats belting out songs that the crowd was happy to join in on.
Again this very eager audience showed their appreciation and were soon up and dancing along. Tommy returned to complete the auctions with Tee-shirts signed and donated by Amy with the initial shirt being knocked down at RM 300. The next T-shirt was fixed at the same bid price and sold but a third shirt was held back for next time.
Tommy then moved straight into Zainal Abidin’s donation of his Hard Rock Café leather rockers jacket. Bidding started at RM 1,000 and much to the crowds’ delight Zainal appeared immediately to bid on his own jacket at RM 1,500. Much banter was exchanged between Tommy and Zainal during this and as soon as it was offered back to the crowd a bid of RM 2,500 came flying in. The bidding then went on to RM 2,600 and looked ready for the hammer to fall when Zainal reappeared and offered RM 2,601, he must have liked that jacket!
Again fun was had with the bidder and Zainal exchanging 1 dollar increases until the jacket finally went for RM 2,608. Charity Auctioning at its best with fun and money raised for a worthy cause.
Zainal Abidin leaped up onto the stage and immediately started taking requests from the audience, with the line “I am here until the morning – what songs do you want to hear?” With this the audience were quick to shout out obvious favourites to which he launched into, unaccompanied, for a few bars of each song.
A witty and popular artist, Zainal had the audience eating out of his hand and within a few bars of his first song I knew why. His voice was a delight to listen to and his music was at once likeable to a first time listener. A drum beat reminiscent of a Latin tempo with bongo drums and snare as well as the rest of the band expertly playing along with gusto, had you wanting to get up on your feet.
This man’s voice was pure honey and I will definitely be seeking out some more of his sounds after the concert.
The night turned out to be a great and pleasing surprise for me as this introduction to Malaysian music had me regretting not having known these artistes before. The star quality of the performers overwhelmed me and their generosity left me humbled.
If you haven’t got a sampling of these artistes in your CD collection go out immediately and remedy that.
After the show the performers graciously took the time to speak to the media. The outpouring of sentiment was directed by the performers towards the cause of the evening, “Friends of Kumar” and they said that the focus of this event must shine on the children in need.
All 3 performers said what a pleasure it had been working together and thanked all their sponsors for the excellent and timely support they had given, with a special shout out to Hard Rock Hotels Penang.
After the success of this event and the money raised for the children Zainal reiterated that they would all like to make this happen again, perhaps next time in KL and much bigger. Angelina Zainal Abidin, wife and manager of Zainal had played a big part in putting the event together.
She and Zainal both said that it nearly didn’t come off as six month ago when the idea was first floated they had no idea from where the sponsorship was going to come from. In fact, up until only 1 month ago they had only secured 1 sponsor and then fate intervened and the sponsors materialized all in the last month.
Next time around “What’s On Penang” offered to assist in the marketing of the project and sourcing of sponsors and we will keep you informed of any news relating to this KL event as we get it. Anybody that would like to find out about sponsorship opportunities can contact us here at firstname.lastname@example.org .