When Malaysian crooner Anuar Zain heads down to Singapore for his concert next month, the first thing that he will do is make a beeline to Newton.
"I love to eat, so the first thing I do when I come to Singapore is to makan at Newton Circus. I make sure I go there at least once whenever I come," he says in a recent interview held at a downtown hotel.
Anuar, one of his country's top male solo singers, will celebrate his third decade in show business with a concert at The Star Theatre on Feb 7.
Known for his pop and R&B ballads, the 44-year-old has built up quite a repertoire over the years, including songs from four full-length solo albums and promises to sing new arrangements of his hits such as Lelaki Ini, Jangan Bersedih Lagi and Bila Resah.
As a treat for his fans, he will also give a preview of his upcoming, self-titled fifth album by performing new tune Kembali PadaMu Ilahi, which features lyrics written by late Malaysian blogger - and Anuar Zain fan - Dalilah Tamrin, who died of cancer in 2010.
"The most important thing for me whenever I do a show is the connection with the audience. I don't do stage gimmicks, I'm not that kind of singer, I just want people to have fun and sing with me when I perform live."
Anuar certainly has his fair share of fans this side of the Causeway. His last two shows here - a solo gig at the Esplanade Concert Hall in 2008 and a joint show with his sister, equally popular 46-year-old songstress Ziana Zain, in 2011 at the same venue - were both sold out.
The Malacca-born singer, whose full name is Shahrul Anuar Bin Zain, started singing professionally at the age of 13 and first became popular among Malay music listeners as part of singing duo Anuar & Ellina.
In 1988, he decided to take a break from show business and worked as a flight attendant with Malaysia Airlines for a decade before making a return to singing with his first solo album.
The critical and commercial success of the 1998 release - which like all his albums are self-titled - paved the way for his status as one of the most formidable solo male names across the Causeway.
Over the years, he has collected multiple music awards, among them Best Male Singer and Best New Male Singer at the Malaysian equivalent of the Grammys, Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) in 1999, and Best Male Artist at Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) in 2008. At the 2013 AIM, he picked up Best Vocal Duo Performance/Best Song Collaboration and Best Song Arrangement for his live duet album with fellow Malaysian singer Dayang Nurfaizah.
Anuar says that he owes it to his fans for his illustrious singing career.
"I always believe that we have to think of others when we perform. I always consider the audience to be the real celebrities, not me, and that I should always do my work sincerely and with honesty. I make sure that I have songs that can support my fans when they feel sad, or songs that they celebrate with when they feel happy," he adds.
The bachelor is fiercely protective of his personal life and skilfully dodged a question about his plans to get married and start a family.
"I like to make people happy with my music but whatever I experience in love, I always keep it private and I don't share it. These days, whenever I'm not singing, I keep myself busy with friends and family. Let's just say I am still waiting for the right one to share the rest of my life with, and I leave it to God."
ANUAR ZAIN THREE DECADES OF MUSIC LIVE IN SINGAPORE 2015
Where: The Star Theatre
When: Feb 7, 8pm
Admission: $45, $78, $98, $128, $158, $188 and $228 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)
This article was first published on January 1, 2015.
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