Friday, March 11, 2016

Tharman Shanmugaratnam: Shirley Nair Had Unusual Voice

January, 10th, 2015.
'You're The Boy,' 1965. Watch this 3-minute video if you can, and don't be afraid to shed a tear. 
Shirley Nair and The Silver Strings were one of the local bands that sprang up in the 60's. They were different from most others because they wrote their own songs – like the hit single in 1965, ‘You’re The Boy’, and ‘I Won’t Let You See Me Cry’.
I’ve been following music for decades, but there’s always something special about the 60's. It has that simple, stirring quality. The local bands were often multiracial. And they had the spirit of the times - people just took their chances. As Audie Ng, the founding member of The Silver Strings, put it recently – “We never thought of success and fame. We liked it and we worked very hard, took every chance to get some exposure and hoped people accepted us for what we were”.
The Silver Strings was formed by four students of music teacher Harry Martinez - Audie Ng on bass, David Chan lead guitar, Merlin Lim rhythm guitar and Danny Boy on drums. Andy Young was their original singer. Others came later. When Andy left to pursue an academic career, Shirley Nair joined them when she was 19. She had an unusual voice, that brought stardom.

When the Rolling Stones performed at the Singapore Badminton Hall in 1965, they were an opening act. The Silver Strings also wrote the theme song for the famous 1964 Malay comedy film, Mat Tiga Suku (starring Mat Sentol), and had cameo roles in the film.
Shirley Nair has left us, succumbing to cancer two decades ago. But The Silver Strings have had a few reunion performances in recent years, now in their late 60's and early 70's.

They were like the other pioneering bands of the 60s. Some of you will remember the names. Naomi and The Boys, fronted by Naomi Suriya, with hits like ‘Happy, Happy Birthday' – the 1965 song of the year in Singapore and Malaysia. The Crescendos - originally with Susan Lim, who unfortunately died tragically off the coast of Terengganu. 
The Thunderbirds, with hits like ‘My Lonely Heart’. The Quests, with Vernon Cornelius as lead singer. The Stylers, who like The Quests performed in English, Chinese and Malay. Matthew Tan and the Mandarins, who made it big with Country Western songs. The Cyclones, with brothers Siva and James Choy, who sang together with the Checkmates. The Blue Diamonds, with Ruud and Riem de Wolff, who came from Indonesia.
The video 'You're the Boy' is among those produced by SG50 in commemoration of our 50 years of nationhood.

(This article has been minimally edited to suit blog content).
The original Silver Strings: Andy Young, Dave Chan, Audie Ng, Merlin Lim and Danny Boy.


No comments: