Wednesday, November 29, 2017


I have interviewed the Queen of Rock Ella and the interview was published today ... 

By Bissme S

I LOVE to see Nor Zila Aminuddin, better known as Ella, laugh. The Malaysian queen of rock has one of those child-like laughs that instantly brightens up a room. And Ella’s laughter rings out often throughout our recent interview. The singer has every
reason to be happy. This has been a great year for the 51-year old rocker.
Ella was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian in May, as well as
the most recognised brand in leading performance artiste of the year at the Asean Outstanding Business Award in October.
And this weekend, she will be the star of her solo concerts with the 90-member Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO)
led by conductor Ahmad Muriz Che Rose at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP).
While this is Ella’s second time performing on the DFP stage – her first was in 2013 where she was one of the featured artistes for the MPO Rocks concert – this time, things will be quite different. The two two-hour-long concerts will focus solely on Ella
and highlight her 30-year journey in the music industry, hence, the concerts’ theme, A Rock Queen’s Journey.
“Be prepared to hear some noise in DFP, and it is going to get loud,” says Ahmad Muriz, who is obviously a great admirer of Ella.
The conductor adds that the most challenging part for Ella’s concert was selecting the songs,
“because she has so many hits”.
Ella picked the final 16 songs that she will be performing. They include a medley of her hits and tracks like Pengemis
Cinta, Pedih, Nuri, Rindu, Layar Impian, Dua Insan Bercinta, Sembilu, Gemilang, as well as her latest hit, Ku Sedia.
“I am surprised I had so many hits,” she says, adding that she has to be selective with the list
because “not all songs will sound better with an orchestra”.
The songs were given new arrangements by well-known composers such as Jenny Chin, Luqman Aziz, Leonard Yeap, and Ahmad Muriz himself. Ella has heard the new arrangements and she loves them. She says MPO has earlier suggested a
Japanese conductor for her concerts but she asked for a local conductor instead.
“I believe in local talents and I am happy that I have stuck to my decision.”
When asked if she feels any pressure doing this  concert, Ella laughingly replies: “I do not have any pressure,
because I’ve passed all that pressure to my musicians and my composer.”
On a more serious note, she says: “Pressure is a normal thing for people like us. Fans always have high expectations
whenever you put on a concert. I believe in giving my best and hope my best is enough for my fans.”
Ella’s concerts have always been fun affairs, and there is concern that a formal venue like DFP can put a damper on that
fun as her fans are expected to be on their best behaviour.
“There are no restrictions on my concert,” she insists. 
“If fans want to clap their hands and sing along with me, they can. I want them to have fun.”
It’s a dream of every local singer to be able to perform at this prestigious venue, which can seat a crowd of 920.
And Ella is indeed living that dream, a far cry from that young girl who initially wanted to grow up to be a secretary. Ella started her singing career performing at nightclubs and lounges. In 1981, she was approached to be the lead singer of a rock band, The Boys, and they then became known as Ella and The Boys. They achieved stardom when they took part in the Battle of Bands in 1985. After four albums, Ella left to strike out a solo career in 1989.
To date, she has cut 12  studio albums and performed in countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, China, Russia and the United States. One of the highlights in her career has to be when she sang the Bahasa Malaysia version of the official song for the 16th Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur – Standing in the Eyes of the World – in 1998.
In 2001, Malaysian Book of Records listed her as the first Malaysian singer to record a full album in the US. The album, Ella
USA, sold more than 300,000 copies.
In 2012, Ella married pilot Azhar Ghazali. Theirs is a marriage made in heaven.
“He understands my busy schedule, so if I do not have time to cook, he does not get angry.”
And Ella says she really loves cooking for her husband.
“In the morning, I serve him scrambled eggs; in the afternoon, I serve him omelette; and at night, I serve him telur rebus
(boiled eggs).”
I laugh. So does Ella, and the room seems the brighter for it. 

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