SINGAPORE - As a teenager, he scrimped and saved to buy about 20 of singer Kartina Dahari’s vinyl records. He saw her perform live just once, in the 1970s.
Yesterday, Mr Samad Saimon, 55, a cleaning supervisor, turned up to say goodbye to the Malay music doyenne.
She died on Wednesday from ovarian cancer at the age of 73.
Mr Samad said with tears in his eyes: “She was so beautiful and talented. It’s sad to see her go. I found out about her passing last night and knew it was my last chance to see her.
“Many fans like me didn’t know her personally. But she touched us through her music.”
More than 100 fans, friends and family members turned up to pay their respects yesterday morning. They included former Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zainul Abidin Rasheed, former Member of Parliament Yatiman Yusof and actor-director S. Sahlan.
Mr Zainul, 67, said: “I remember her as a heart-warming celebrity, sophisticated in appearance and outlook but big-hearted and humble in personality.
“Whenever asked to participate in charity shows, she was always obliging and professional fees were the last thing on her mind. The keroncong enthusiasts and community will miss her the most.”
She rose to popularity in the 1960s, and became the first Malay singer in Singapore to record in English. She was also known as the queen of keroncong, a traditional folk music genre. One of her famous songs was Sayang Di Sayang.
Some family members gathered at her condominium in Braddell as early as 8am. Others turned up at the Ba’alwie Mosque in Bukit Timah, which she frequented, at 10am for a prayer session.
Her body was then sent to a Muslim cemetery in Lim Chu Kang Road, where friends and family – many with shoes caked with mud – bade her farewell.