Ask Anuar Zain his best memory from his 40-year music career and he recalls the time he performed at the Commonwealth Games 1998 held in Kuala Lumpur.
“There were four of us performing – Roy, Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza, Noraniza Idris and me. People talked about the other three singers, but they didn’t remember me because I had just started singing again that year.
“But for me, it was one of the most memorable moments in my career because I was performing to 100,000 spectators.
“Another sweet moment in my career that I cherish is the first solo concert I did.
“It was difficult to get people to trust me to produce such a concert. It took a long time, but I finally did it in 2013 and I am glad I did it because after that first one was a success, my career just got better and better.”
For the record, the award- winning singer made history with his Anuar Zain Tiga Dekad concert in 2013 by becoming the first Malaysian artiste to charge ticket price of RM1,200 – the most expensive at that time – and they were all sold out.
Ten years later, he is holding another large-scale concert – his 40th Anniversary Concert (AZ40) on Oct 28, at the same venue as his 2013 concert, Stadium Melawati, Shah Alam.
Fans can expect the 53-year-old vocalist to belt out more than 20 hit songs taken from his five studio albums and recent singles including Lelaki Ini, Perpisahan, Bila Resah, Sedetik Lebih and Keabadian Cinta.
The younger brother of singer Ziana Zain who started as a recording artiste at the age of 13 as part of the duo Anuar & Ellina, credits his popular sibling for reminding him how to manoeuvre within the industry after deciding to make a comeback in 1998.
Anuar quit singing in 1988 to work as a flight attendant with Malaysia Airlines.
“She also gave me tips on performing, because at that point, she was already a seasoned artiste. I was appreciative of all the things she taught me and her words of encouragement.”
The soft-spoken singer who exudes great confidence on stage adds: “I also got a very good advise from Datuk Ramli Sarip when he saw me nervous one time.
“He said, ‘Dik, buat persembahan, jangan buat pertunjukan’ which I understood to mean, I should perform with a humble heart and with sincerity, and not to turn it into a circus.
“I realised I need to make a connection with my audience, so we can go on a journey together.”
1. Anuar Zain is touted as Malaysia’s best male singer, highest paid male vocalist in the country and a soulful balladeer. How would Anuar Zain describe Anuar Zain?
I’m just a normal person trying to make a living.
People may say all those (titles) you mentioned, but I don’t pay attention to those things. Even if I go to any malls, and they played my song, I’d get very embarrassed.
Occasionally people come up to me to take photos, I say ‘why not’. As long as they ask me and not snap behind my back, I’m fine with talking to fans.
Otherwise, I’m just a normal person. I just want to have coffee or a meal with my friends, hang out and do normal things.
I do have a group of friends who are into classic cars, so I spend time with them, talking about cars. We joke around or plan for holidays. Just very normal things, you know.
I look at myself, and I’m just another man, another person who wants to make a living and have a good time with friends and family.
2. Classic cars? What are we talking about here?
I have a few old Mercedes Benz which I am restoring with a bunch of friends.
One of which is a 1970 Mercedes – yes, it’s the same age as me – a vintage.
I am restoring that right now, I am in the midst of doing its bodywork. And I have a few more in the workshop – I have close to 10 classic cars, a few Mercedes Benz, a 1990s Volvo station wagon and a mini.
I like old cars. I love them!
Most of these cars are emotional purchases. Some are in really bad shape. One of the cars I got, my friend said was going to be scrapped.
When I first started this, I had no experience (in restoration). But it’s a learning process.
It’s rewarding to see the transformation of this really bad car into something beautiful.
It’s a challenge to find the parts, but to see the car going from that stage to this, it’s very satisfying to me.
3. I read that you love eating a variety of food. Is this something you still indulge in presently?
I used to eat a lot. A lot! I eat almost anything. I want to try everything – Malay food, Japanese, North Indian, Korean food. It’s a joy to eat, you know.
But at one point, I put on so much weight that I couldn’t breathe after a meal.
And I started getting cramps along my leg. I had difficulties singing, I got back pain and knee pain.
I think, last year I was at my heaviest, 82kg.
I decided I needed to control my food. I still eat, but a smaller portion.
I rarely eat at night now. Only once in a while, if I’m really hungry.
It was challenging at first to eat just one small portion, but now I am used to it.
When I am performing, I try to eat something light two hours before the performance.
For me, water – not even warm water, just room temperature water – is good enough.
I can’t sing on full stomach, some people can, but I can’t.
4. What else has changed for you as you got older?
I realised I have to be careful when I move, and when lifting heavy things. I have to do it the right way or I’d hurt myself.
When I was younger, I could just jump out of bed, now it’s a whole process of using my elbow and slowly getting up.
I did get up fast once and I pulled my back (laughs). When you are older, you need to take better care of your body.
Singing wise, my voice is a bit rounder now. And probably I lost a little bit of my key (pitches), it’s a little lower now.
But I like the tone of it now.
5. You have such a positive vibe, from the way you interact with people to the way you present yourself on stage. How did you gain that outlook?
From my family and the people around me.
Also, from the time when I was working in the airlines. You are trained to work under pressure... there are many challenges and surprises along the way on that job.
I learned from my seniors and colleagues that a good attitude in wanting to do a good job is key to positive thinking.
Having that positivity won’t drain you when you’re doing something. When you think positive, you will attract good things, and this is what I want in my life.
There will always be hardship and challenges, but when you open your eyes to see the good that you have, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds corny but I believe that no matter what, there are positive things around the corner somehow.
As a singer, I have wanted to give it up once or twice. Not so much because of other people but because I doubted myself, that nagging feeling that I am not good enough.
Creative people will always have ups and downs, we are sensitive beings.
Thankfully, I have people around me who support me and pull me back – especially my family and friends – from out of my head. And I have my faith.
So, it’s important to have that support system. And this is, I think, true for everyone.
Tickets to Anuar Zain 40th Anniversary Concert are priced from RM188 to RM1,188 and are available at ww.jiotix.asia or +6011 5100 3111 (Whatsapp only).