More than three decades after she started out in show business, singer Ella is still Malaysia’s undisputed “Ratu Rock” or rock queen.
In May, the country’s entertainment and media industry honoured the 50-year-old with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Anugerah Bintang Popular awards show.
The crown is not one she wears lightly. “I find it tough. I’m thankful, but having that title means I have to always work harder,” she said.
Ella, whose real name is Norzila Aminuddin, will mark her 30th anniversary as a singer with a show at Singapore’s Esplanade Concert Hall on July 22. It is part of Pesta Raya, the Esplanade’s annual Malay arts festival.
She is excited about playing her first solo concert here in 20 years. “While I’ve performed in Singapore a few times with other artistes or at private shows, my fans are always asking when I’ll be back to do a full solo show. I think now is the right time.”
Born in Penang and raised in Selangor, she began her career singing in Kuala Lumpur’s club circuit in the early 1980s.
She has released more than 30 records either as a solo singer or with other acts, including the band she made her debut with, Ella & The Boys.
She found greater success after striking it out on her own. Her first three solo albums – Pengemis Cinta (1988), Puteri Kota (1989) and Identiti (1990) – achieved platinum sales in Malaysia. She has also acted in films such as Bayangan Maut (1990) and KIL (2013).
She plans to release a new album next month, which comes 10 years after her last studio album, Rama Rama.
Aside from her hijab, which she started wearing last year, many of her fans have remarked that she looks and sounds the same as she did in the 1980s.
The singer, who married pilot Azhar Ghazali in 2012, says there is no formula behind her ability to maintain her looks and voice.
“There’s no secret – I guess I just try to always be happy.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network/Eddino Abdul Hadi