When it comes to home-grown Malay singers carving a solid career in Malaysia, well-known names like Aliff Aziz, Awi Rafael and Tengku Adil come to mind.
The men seem to have proven their lasting power in the cut-throat industry, but their female counterparts do not seem to match up.
But latest addition Aisyah Aziz hopes to buck the trend.
The 20-year-old, who is Aliff's younger sister, is working towards her big break across the Causeway after her stint on Malaysian reality singing competition Akademi Fantasia (AF) last year.
She is determined to have a long-term career.
For a start, she is taking Aliff's advice on staying away from potentially career-wrecking moves.
"As someone more experienced in the Malaysian entertainment industry, he warned me about rich men on the lookout for young female artists and told me not to fall into their traps," she told The New Paper in a phone interview from Kuala Lumpur last week.
Aisyah is also ready to take on the competition from the present pool of Malaysian talent.
"The challenges include setting myself apart from others and learning to stay relevant over the years," she said.
Aisyah, who has a growing fan base in Malaysia from her AF days, admitted that the bigger market overseas offers more opportunities for rising artists like herself.
But first, she is focusing on improving herself by picking up the keyboard - she can already play the guitar and ukulele - and learning to write her own songs.
For Aisyah, a good attitude is key.
"It's hard to go far if you have a bad reputation because word spreads like wildfire. Also, you need to be passionate about what you do in the long term," she said.
These factors, in her opinion, might be reasons her female predecessors lacked staying power in the Malaysian music industry.
Aisyah rose to fame when she joined the 10th season of AF last year and emerged as the only Singaporean finalist in the competition, finishing in sixth place.
Since then, she has followed in Aliff's footsteps and shuttles between Kuala Lumpur, where she shares an apartment with him in Damansara, and Singapore, performing at corporate events and shows.
The siblings were back in town on March 28 to sing on Suria's variety special Viva Elektra.
Her first single, Mimpi, released last year, has received frequent airplay on local and Malaysian radio stations.
For now, plans for a follow-up are under way and she hopes to release her debut album in the near future.
Aisyah, who is on a three-year contract with Malaysian satellite pay-TV channel Astro, also scored a role as model Fiona in musical telemovie OMG (Ohsem Music Group) on TV3. She has since received offers for other acting jobs.
But for now, Aisyah wants to focus on improving as a singer, looking to the likes of Malaysian singers Siti Nurhaliza, Shila Amzah and Faizal Tahir as her role models. Still, Aliff remains her main source of motivation and inspiration.
"It has been seven years since he set foot in Malaysia and everyone still knows his name," she said.
"I hate the thought of being forgotten in the future. In 10 years' time, I hope to still be able to say that I'm here and making my own music."
This article was published on April 7 in The New Paper.
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