Thursday, October 15, 2020

"I Met A Famous Singer From Duke Ellington's Band": Cedric Collars Writes From Australia


Cedric Collars is, like his name, unique; he's also talented. He's a friend but like many people who use the media frequently, a friend today can be someone you may have never met. Yes, I've yet to meet Cedric; he lives in Perth but was from a street in Singapore. He's written another article earlier for the blog and made useful comments regarding the 60's music scene. Here's Cedric again because I asked him for another music tale.

Not too long ago he met a singer and she was from one of the most famous bands in the world. Thanks Cedric for your story. Please read on:

Cedric and Stephanie Collars with his Yamaha Tyros 5 keyboard in Canada.

Sandra and Osvaldo: Cedric's sister and her husband. They are the musical duo in Vancouver.

The Enlightenment and Healing Power of Music:

 “Music is a world within itself 

With a language we all understand

With an equal opportunity

For all to sing, dance and clap their hands"

(So says the lyrics of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder.)

You asked for something funny, sad, embarrassing, happy, dramatic or anything that happened backstage or on-stage and I thought that this story of mine was a mixture of all these things and maybe a bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure.

It began in 1977 when I left the RSAF and music in Singapore to pursue my engineering education overseas in Scotland. On completion of my studies, I went headlong into a career in aviation.

Fast forward to 2011 and I was asked by my sister to visit her in Vancouver, Canada. It so happened that my sister and her husband were performing at night clubs and nursing homes as a duet, she on the Yamaha keyboards, he on the electric guitar and they had a Filipino male singer who occasionally sang with them.

Prior to my trip, I was intending to retire from front-line work to teach at a technical college in my engineering discipline. This trip was when my musical awakening began.

The first nursing home I visited with my sister; I was invited to sing for them. While I was getting set-up, I noticed an elderly lady sitting and just staring at me and looking rather unfriendly. I asked the nursing staff if it was alright for me to sing and they all told me that the lady has been a resident for about 6 months and is very unsociable. She never talks or socializes with any of the residents. She comes out for her meals and then returns to her room.

When the music started and I began to sing, she got up and started dancing with her walking frame and as I was ending my song – Arrivederci Roma, she grabbed my hand and asked for another song. I spoke to her and the sang – Besame Mucho to which she was as happy as ever.

When the gig was over, she asked me to come back and sing for her. I had to tell her that I was from Australia and was returning back home. At this time the care-givers were also stunned as she had opened up and was socializing – a happy and smiling person!!!

Well, music had the healing power that touched her mind and opened up happy times which she lost in the fogs of her mind.

On my return to Australia I left the music behind and carried on my aviation front line work and it was about a couple of years later when I was asked by my sister to help them with my singing as their regular singer was going overseas on a trip.


Eve Duke: Pianist and singer with the Duke Ellington band. She's about 91.

I took the trip to Vancouver and again helped them this time playing the Yamaha Tyros 5 keyboards and singing as well.

It was this time when the enlightening took place!!!

One of the gigs was at a Vancouver St Vincent – Langara Residence care home. I sang many jazz standards, pop and country songs and also got on the keyboards doing some R&B and Boogie beats with big-band sounds.

Throughout the concert, I noticed an elderly well-dressed lady who occasionally closed her eyes, was mouthing the words and drifting into the song I was singing.

When the concert ended, I walked over to her and introduced myself. She complimented me by saying:

"You sound just like Perry Como but like Frank Sinatra when you sing his songs. I have met them both and what I say is true.” 

She also told me that I had the gift of music which she saw only once another time in her life. She introduced herself as Eve Duke and that she was the pianist and singer with the Duke Ellington Band. She said she would very much like to play the piano but her hands are shaking now and she is unable to sing anymore.

I helped her over to the Yamaha Tyros 5 keyboards and together we played some jazz songs and surprisingly her hands had stopped shaking and she was in her elements.

She had indeed risen up to the challenge and had come alive again and together we had a very memorable time.

Her final comments to me was “You made a very old lady feel young and alive again. You have the magic, son... You have the magic.”

On the way home we had a good laugh over her words and her living in the world of “Duke Ellington.” I passed off her comments as “a senior moment of dementia” and never thought much of it again.

Cedric Collars was in the presence of Music Royalty. Eve Duke sings 'Sophisticated Lady'. By courtesy of david hertzberg from YouTube. Thank you sir. An uncut concert arrangement from 1950. Yvonne Lanauze is Eve Duke.

A few days later, when I was searching the internet, I thought about Eve Duke and decided to search about her. Her real name is Yvonne Lanauze and she REALLY WAS the singer and pianist with the legendary Duke Ellington Band.

She sang Sophisticated Lady and Mood Indigo on a recording and can still be heard even today.

Yes, I was in the presence of Music Royalty and I didn’t even know it. She was indeed Duke Ellington’s pianist and here I was showing her my tricks when she could easily have laughed me away. Her final words to me did leave me thinking of my retirement future. I knew that “son you have magic” meant that music was the path I had to follow and make the seniors, with and without dementia, feel whole and alive again.

Just as a passing note, she now plays and entertains the seniors at her nursing home. She has become alive again!!!

What I did for her was something I felt she needed and that I could manage with my limited Tyros 5 keyboard experience. I left her feeling elated and in doing so I felt I had used my God-given talent to make a senior citizen alive again.

In conclusion, after retiring from aviation, I pursued my hidden musical gift and after much practicing I’m now doing it as a volunteer at nursing homes, spreading the magic of music – a therapy of living life that the fogs of dementia and age has enveloped the brain.

Yes, I’m doing what they sing “Grey skies are going to clear up... Put on a happy face!”

This is my journey to finding the true value and healing potential of the power of music – vocal and instrumental.

Here is the wrap-up of all that was requested in the brief you laid out for me. Hope it is inspiring enough.

Regards,

Cedric Collars

Perth, Australia.

Please provide some comments if you wish. 

Article by Cedric Collars has been copyrighted for a book publication. 

Images: Google and A Personal Collection from Cedric Collars. Copyrights Reserved.

YouTube Video:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

On A Little Street In Singapore Hello 1939


Time flies. 
A song from 1939.

Another new day.

Yesterday was Saturday with a unique date:

10.10.2020.

Reminding us all.

These are challenging times.

And Stupid Covid is still around.

So roam the little streets in Singapore.

If you need to.

But don’t let your guard down.

And 

KEEP THAT MASK ON.

KEEP THAT DISTANCE.

SG IS OPENING UP, LITTLE BY LITTLE.

Manhattan Transfer with On A LIttle Street In Singapore. YouTube. Video by bluevelvetglove. 

The nightclub scene and costumes depict the rather cliched ones usually done by the West - coolie hat, cheongsam, mandarin shirts, etc.  Yes, it was SG in the late 30's. And it wasn't a tourist visit but the typical sailor guy in a sailor garb. Yes, only the rickshaw was missing? 

Tim Hauser, Laurel Masse, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel are on vocals.
Peter DeRose, Billy Hill are the composers and recorded in 1939 before I was even born. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Unmask Singapore's Music Celebrities. An Octoburst Quiz!



The portraits put together are not  in any order of preference but one thing is sure, they are all music makers and very popular in Singapore's pop scene. But it's a mixed group of 3 posters, purposefully done, hopefully to make it more difficult.

Regular blog readers will recognise them since they are in many of the articles found on the postings. They are also good friends so the immediate response was, 'Yes,' when I asked them if  they could feature their covered faces on this blog. 


No real clues needed but if you want a few:
 
They are band leaders, singers, lead guitarists, a percussionist, rhythmist  and bassists. One musician writes for the blog regularly while another organises shows and manage their own groups. And there are pianists too with a rocker and a music ambassador! Some singers can mimic Tom Jones, Louis Armstrong and other famous artistes like Cliff Richard.

Are there ladies in the group? You need to check carefully. Can they perform Malay and Chinese songs too? Truthfully yes. Many are recording artistes from yesteryear.  Who are these SG stars?

UNMASK THEM!

Write your answers by clicking on the comment page below. If you can please post it on your Facebook account too. But don't tell them who you are.

GOOD LUCK.
'People' by Barbra Striesand: "'People who needs people are the luckiest people in the world..."

And again a big thank you to the 12 friends above who responded immediately to my request for their covid masks photographs, which came within 2 hours.

It's too difficult for many readers so here's the list of their names. Try to match them:

WINSTON KOH (SINGER WITH TRAILERS, FLYIING PHANTOMS)
CLARENCE PERERA (DRUMMER PREVIOUSLY WITH THE DUKES)
JIMMY YAP (SINGING AMBASSADOR)
MICHAEL BANGAR (GUITARIST PREVIOUSLY W SILVER STRINGS, OWN BANDS)
IRENE YAP (SINGER, RECORDING ARTISTE)
STEVE HO (SINGER/BUSKER)
JERRY FERNANDEZ (SINGER, LEADER OF NEW FACES)
AUDIE NG (BASSIST, LEADER OF SILVER STRINGS)
TONY NG (PIANIST, PLAYED WITH NUMEROUS BANDS)
CHARLIE YAP (BASSIST, LEADER OF LOCOMOTION)
JOHNNY YEOW (GUITARIST WITH SILVER STRINGS, FLYING PHANTOMS)
UNKNOWN GUY 

Cheers!!!

Images: belong to the artistes. Copyrights Reserved.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

'The Moon Represents My Heart' 月亮代表我的心 By Siti Nurhaliza, Bon Jovi & A Malay Version Happy Mid-Autumn 2020 Singapore

Siti Nurhaliza, Bon Jovi, Faye Wong, Andy Lau
(Top/Bottom: Left to right)

The song 'The Moon Represents My Heart' 
was established since 1972 and was not only a Chinese hit but an international one, especially when Teresa Teng carried it in 1977. It was one of the biggest Chinese (Mandarin) songs ever.

The New York Times reported its glory, many famous stars sang it. These vocalists included Bon Jovi, David Achuleta, Kenny G (instrumental version), Katherine Jenkins, Andy Lau, Leslie Cheung, Faye Wong and even Malay pop singer Siti Nurhaliza. 


Siti Nurhaliza sings it with perfect diction, intonation and depth. One is the most accomplished Malaysian singers that I've heard since the 1950's. Her beauty matches her voice. YouTube by 'azharkent'. Thank you. I hope you will let it remain.

On the platforms in Singapore there's never a Community Centre festivity without this song. From our local bands, guitar groups and most choirs, the moon seems to represent everyone's heart.

As the years rolled on it became an unofficial anthem for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival, so it's October guys and you'd probably be hearing this song and its refrain for many times this month. I remember too my grandson leaning it for a concert piece he was in, during his kindergarten days. 

It is also sung in Malay by this young lady. Thanks to Peter Balan.  BULAN MENJADI SAKSI - a truly accurate rendition and translation in Malay. It means 'the moon is my witness'.

The international standing it holds is represented on this post with a version in Malay and a Caucasian lady singing it with an orchestra. 

The words were written by Sun Yi  and music composed by Weng Ching Hsi. There are English lyrics to it but has anyone sung a version*. Could you let us know? Thank you.

Any comment dear reader? 

Enjoy and have a Great Autumn Festival 2020 Singapore.

But keep Covid at bay. If you really need to sing, sing it behind your mask.

Cheers.

*Apparently there is an English version, told to me by good friend Victor Lam, drummer to the Mysterians and lately The Burns. A screen-shot of the video shows below. It's translated and sung by YOJIMBO37.


Thanks to many readers who sent Mid-Autumn greetings via WhatsApp yesterday 1st October, 2020.

Haley Westenra and Shin (World Games 2009): YouTube Video Haley Westenra International. Thank you.

Images and Videos: Google and YouTube. Copyrights belong to rightful owners. Please inform under Comment page below if there is any objection.

Poster Explanation: 'European' = inclusively Caucasians, to encompass the Choirs that have sung it; 'Nur' = Siti Nurhaliza.

Friday, September 25, 2020

'My Lonely Heart' Thunderbirds: 4 Chinese Versions. Mooncake Festival Wishes To All 2020

The letter below was sent last year to my email. I had missed it and apologise to Dr Steven Farram, Darwin University, a great friend, for not publishing it earlier. Thanks Steve.

The Thunderbirds' top hit My Lonely Heart, a Singapore composition, was recorded with three other international hits and sung by June Mok a popular Chinese artiste from the 60s. 

Hi Andy,

Michael Bangar’s letter gives a perfect intro. Although 'My Lonely Heart' isn’t the most recorded song I know. See below for some script for a post and images attached.

 

Best

Steve

 

This YouTube video has 4 songs recorded. The topical record is on the 2nd track. It does not have the comb-gliding characteristic sound like the original but a totally different rendition, which I thought is just as effective and beautiful. 

My Lonely Heart (1967)

 

Hi Andy,

 

I was very interested to read Michael Bangar’s comments about The Thunderbirds’ song ‘My Lonely Heart’ and recall him telling me exactly the same thing when I had the good fortune to meet him at the City Square Mall in Singapore back in 2017. I knew that other artists had covered the song and checked my records when I got home to find which versions I had. 


The results were a bit surprising. I have four other versions of the song all sung by female performers. Three of the four versions are sung in Chinese (Mandarin). I am not sure and only one of the four artists was from Singapore. The other three were from Hong Kong. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so clearly these recording artists were strong admirers of Harvey Fitzgerald’s song.

 

The recording from Singapore was by Rita Chao & The Quests. The Hong Kong recordings were by Donna, Fung Po Po, and June Mok. Only Fung Po Po sung it in English.

 

Best

Steve.


Wishing all my Chinese readers and viewers A Joyous Mooncake Festival 2020.  These are challenging times, so just keep your mask on and don't go too close to the crowds.


The cover of Rita Chao's vinyl record, that has the same song but sung in Chinese. It just goes to show how creative and talented our music boys and girls are. This song was the composition of two brothers Harvey and the late Derrick Fitzgerald.
The sweet and petite Fung Boh Boh or Wong Poh Poh, loved by grandmothers, aunties and young children. A child-star she was as famous in Hong Kong as Shirley Temple was in Hollywood, USA in the 50s. She was a singer too and recorded 'My Lonely Heart' (well, the melody anyway). Ms. Fung would probably be in her mid-sixties now?

The three collaborators who met and discussed 60s music from Australia and Singapore: Andy, Michael and Steve (from Darwin).

Images: Google.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Ivor Lesslar: A Tall Dark Handsome SG Guitar Hero


Ivor with his iconic hat playing at the Esplanade.

This video is the work of ROBERTO LIM, passionate in his ways to film 
many of the Singapore music scenes you see on YouTube. 
Like Ivor, Roberto is another unsung hero. Thank you sir.
(1) Ivor  Lesslar is second from left,
and left in the 3rd picture.


IVOR LESSLAR by Mike Bangar (unedited.)

🎸🎹🥁🎷🎺

Hi Blog Readers !


Time is slipping away so fast. Singapore's Golden Era Of Pop Music (post WW2 up till now) is also slowly but surely fading into our musical history. And now made worse by Corvid-19. 


Many many years have gone by and taken along with them quite a few of our Music Legends.  Keyboardists, Percussionists, Horn Players, Bassists, Guitarists, etc.


Time for an Article Special on Musician Extraordinaire  Ivor Lesslar: multi - instrumentalist, & a multi - talented gentleman,  vocalist, band mate of many years & long time friend of ours.


An Unsung Hero From That Golden Era.


A self taught music man, he started his early years paying his dues and was lead guitarist for Singapore’s 60s recording band ‘Cells Unlimited’.


After the group broke up, he moved on to Bangkok, Thailand, making music there for quite a few years. While he was there he played with bands and musicians, doing club work & events.


Upon Ivor's  return to  Singapore, after spending some years gigging around Thailand  (previously known as Siam), he brought along with him some  years of experience playing music of other genres  He comfortably just grooved his way into our nightclub music scene. 


Home here, he spent a few years in the Country & Western music scene working, in clubs like Boots & Saddle at Sembawang, Ginivys & Peyton Place  along Orchard Road. The next number of  years, he worked at various clubs along the Orchard Road stretch,  performing various genres of music. During this  period he became a family man with a wife and two sons.


Then by the mid 80's, our music scene took a change when clubs started hiring foreign bands, ie mostly Filipino acts. After a few more years gigging in pubs & clubs with  duos, trios & quartets, Ivor got into the budding function circuit.


A free-lance musician by now, he played with any band and  any musical set up when his services was called upon. Regular Electric Bands, String Duos, Trios, quartets as well as Strolling Bands: stationary at a fixed point or going round from table to table. With so many decades of music making behind him, he just fitted into any music line-up with ease, most times with hardly any rehearsal. Besides doing a great job on guitar, he plays keyboards and drums.


Up till the present time and by now a grandad, he still performs free lance gigs.

For a long time, Ivor does regular gigs with the band with multiple names: Tropical Cats / Los Tropi-Gatos, Transit, Mixed Combination, New Notes, Limited Edition.😉


In the band line up : hornsman Jerry Murad, drummer Ramon Francis, bassist Jeffery Pinto (bassist Stephen De Souza - substitute bassist) and rhythmist Michael Bangar. All band members do frontline vocals and vocal harmony. 


Ivor Lesslar: An Excellent Man Of His Craft. From a musical era, neglected and fogotten by today's mainstream.


Salutè ! Our Buddy In Music.

He who stands tallest; that's Ivor Lesslar at his youngest with pop band 'Cells Unlimited' with their hit vinyl.

First picture below is Ivor with his hat. 2nd pix - extreme left; 3rd pix: third left.

(The above posting is by Michael Bangar. I must thank him again for so willingly imparting his historical expertise about Singapore's music industry. Ivor Lesslar is a good friend and has appeared many times with their different groups that includes Michael. 


I have often seen Ivor play at the Catholic Church on Siglap Hill and if you close your eyes, you'd probably think you are listening to Hank Marvin live with a church filled Shadows hits. It's my own opinion, but like Michael explained, he's definitely one of the best lead guitarists in town.


He is easily recognised. Tall, dark and handsome; he beats them all in height and a superb handling of his solid guitar.


Many thanks to Ivor for agreeing to this post. He's a quiet man and never looks for publicity. He just plays his best and it took some persuasion to print this article.


We went out together once; Ivor doesn't talk much. He lets his fingers do the talking; his guitar replies.)


If you've heard Ivor play, come on, give him a pat on the back and reply!


Article and Images (specially formatted) have been copyrighted by Mchael Bangar.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Come Lovely September Morn In The Rain

It’s always been an important month for me during my younger days because of the constant reminder of incessant rain that pours from above. This weather persists in Singapore. 

In Canada, England or in Scotland, that’s when students either enjoy returning to their universities for another new year or dread the coming months after sunshine Summer sets. It’s like sensational sun in sizzling Summer and sobering school sessions in showery September. Lectures and term papers get wet in the Northern Hemisphere.



“The leaves of brown 

Came tumbling down 

Remember, in September, 

In the rain...”

(September In The Rain)


That's a Sinatra number, with another by him, called, September Song. Then came Earth Wind Fire with September. Earlier we saw Gina Lollobrigida in a movie and a song too, entitled, Come September, an instrumental by Billy Vaughn and his Orchestra. Popular Bobby Darin made it with a cover too. Kool and The Gang came later with September Love. Mostly had covers by other artistes like Andy Williams, Sarah Vaughn and of course Willie Nelson. Gruff with his bass baritone, Neil Diamond came on with the unforgettable, September Morn and it became one of the biggest hits in the 70's.


In all its beauty September was always auspicious; the people call the period FALL. Ironically the word to describe Autumn, when Nat Cole sang about the falling autumn leaves drifting by his window, some wicked people attacked New York's busy Twin Towers and numbers nine and eleven became symbols of disaster, heartache and hate. FALL had another meaning that September morn at 8.46.


"Nine eleven", we call it even today, remembered every year since September 11 in 2001 when four coordinated attacks took place in the US. September mourns! A season so lovely has a scar on its face but now about 20 years later, September still reigns supreme. 


Do you have a story about September? Or a song about this month that you love and why?  Pray tell.

Fire In The Sky by Rhonda Lee: The 9/11 Terrorist Attract Interpretation.


So  as it showers outside, here's Julie London, singing her experience with September in the Rain, a refreshing rendition.


(I'm just brushing around with oil paintings and popular songs. They go well if you get the right mix of music and colour.)

  Julie London September in the Rain.

Images and YouTube video from Google. 

If there is any objection to the photographs/paintings being used above as illustrations, please inform on the Comment Connection below and they will be deleted immediately. Other contributors will be credited soon. Thanks.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Andy 60's Music Hit 2.35 Million Views In September 2020

 THIS BLOG HIT

 2.35VIEWS.

THANKS TO ALL

READERS, VIEWERS,

FOLLOWERS AND FELLOW 

WRITERS.

More younger readers today as our older folks disappear.  It's the natural way of life and I have no excuse about it. I will go too one of these days and have been advised to look for someone who's keen to take over this blog. 

The time isn't here yet but when it is I shall make an announcement. Meantime, please enjoy the postings. As requested there shall be more stories about Singapore's past music history and the focus on local artistes from the 70's, 60's, 50's and even 40's. 

So if you have a grandad, grandmother or senior folks who are still awake and able to tell stories, more music ones, then please get to them and do a recording of their tales before it's too late.

Official video from Queen: 'Another One Bites The Dust' (1980) can be so telling about our seniors today, especially those born after WW2. Of course it's my own interpretation of this famous song. Nothing more.

My key title to this short notice is from Queen's: "Another One Bites The Dust." So before the Seniors do, please catch them first and get them on to the soundscape for a blog interview about their music stories.

Again, many thanks for your support.