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  • Writer's pictureStacey Chiew

Fara Dolhadi: Music Career With YouTube

“Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences.” - Mike DiLorenzo

To Fara Dolhadi, music is the most direct expression of beauty. A singer, songwriter and music teacher, Fara enjoys exploring music of different genres. From Western hip hop music to Chinese pop songs, her taste in music crosses cultural boundaries, between local and global, East and West.

A multilingual singer who sings in English, Malay, Chinese and other languages, Fara has had several performances with Namewee, a Malaysian singer-songwriter who wrote “Fragile” (Fragile 玻璃心), a controversial song that generated more than 60 million Youtube views worldwide. Her ability to adapt her vocal range and sing in different languages caught Namewee’s attention. This earned her the opportunity to work with the international singer. She joined Namewee and sang in his music video titled “Good Morning”, a song that reflects racial and religious harmony in Malaysia.

Fara Dolhadi

Born into a multiracial family of Filipino, Chinese and Malay backgrounds, Fara learnt at a young age that cultural diversity can be a great source of inspiration. Captured by her aunt’s performance, a choral singer in a church, the young Fara knew back then that she wanted to do something with music when she grew up. As she reached her teens, she took music courses at Sekolah Seni Malaysia in Kuching to develop her confidence in singing. Her mom’s constant support played an important role in helping her to embark on a musical journey.

“It was a good thing for me to discover music at a young age so that I could improve my vocal tone at an earlier stage in life. I received guidance from my teacher on how to hit the right notes, develop a better vocal tone as well as improve my pitch. People say singing is a natural gift, but you really need to take time to learn the proper techniques and go through a series of singing lessons. Otherwise, it’s impossible to sing well!” Fara said.

In 2017, together with her three friends, they formed a group called NAMA. They traveled and performed in different states in Malaysia. The exposure gave them the opportunity to gain experience in live music performance and stage presence. Two years later, to build a bigger and wider audience, the group traveled to Singapore to prove their talents by joining the Asia Got Talent show. They earned a standing ovation from the audience in the sem-finals and received a big ‘yes’ from all three celebrity judges: David Foster, Anggun and Jay Park. David, being the toughest judge of all, commented, “If I was a marketing person, I would grab you and run with it.” At last, they made it to the finals!

After returning from Singapore, Fara continued to pursue a singing career on her own, while her friends ventured into other professions due to the total lockdown(MCO) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the publicity she received from various local media in 2019, the pandemic has affected the music industry in 2020. The entertainment industry, with other sectors including restaurants, labour, and the hospitality sector were hit hard. The indoor shows and outdoor performances were canceled. Performance opportunities for local singers were halted.

Despite the unpredictable disruptions, Fara continued to focus on her music career by posting her music videos through social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and more. Like the Youtubers who build their music careers online, she hopes more people will subscribe to her channel through “self-exposure” on social media.

Besides singing and writing new songs, Fara also gives singing lessons to adults and children. Her latest song, “Ku Lebih Berharga''(I Am Worth More) describes the reality of a lost relationship between two lovers. Fara wrote the song and released it in March this year.

“Being an independent singer, YouTube is a great platform for those who want to unleash

their creative potential. I can’t emphasize this enough, that it is important to plan ahead of time and make your budget work around your video concept. Music video shoots involve long hours and can cost a lot of money,” explained Fara.

Working in the local entertainment industry can be quite challenging for female singers in Malaysia. Fara feels that there’s too much pressure being put on female singers to look “attractive” and “beautiful”. The stereotypical images of beauty that the media portrays have set a standard for many female singers to follow. Many feel the pressure to live up to the image of a perfect singer - looking stunning from every angle with full makeup. Instead of judging by appearance, Fara strongly feels that the music industry should focus on talents more.

"Social media has proven to be a great platform for me to get myself out there to the world and build a fan base. For the past 5 years, it has allowed me to meet new people and work with them. If it’s not for Facebook, I wouldn’t have met Namewee, and sang with him,” said Fara.

Published in Dreamic Educational Magazine 2022.

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