We love you Anita, but where are you?

We love you Anita, but where are you?
Singer Anita Sarawak's last known public appearance in Singapore was in 2011 when she took to the stage as part of the Singapore HeritageFest.

A celebration of Singapore music will be incomplete without singing diva Anita Sarawak, say the organisers of the Sing50 concert.

That is why they have embarked on a search for the singer, who appears to have disappeared from the music scene.

Mr Jeremiah Choy, creative director of the Sing50 concert, said: "We really want her to sing at the concert. She is one of those entertainers whose appeal cuts across all ages, cultures and languages."

Sarawak, well known for her deep vocals, flamboyant costumes and larger-than-life stage presence, was last reported to be based in Kuala Lumpur where she hosted television shows. She moved there after living in the US from 1985 to 2001, and in Singapore from 2001 to 2003.

But her Malaysian telephone number is no longer in use, and she is not known to have contacted anybody in her circle of friends and business associates since 2013.

Music industry veteran and Sing50's artist and repertoire adviser, Mr Lim Sek, last saw her in 2013, when he engaged her for a corporate gig in Marina Bay Sands.

Her last known public appearance in Singapore was in 2011 when she took to the stage as part of the Singapore HeritageFest.

There is talk that Sarawak, who turns 63 this year, returned to the United States with her husband, Englishman Mohamad Mahathir Abdullah, but Mr Lim said his American contacts have failed to find her too.

The general manager of Life Records, Mr Osman Ariffin, said he last spoke to her in mid-2013 when they discussed releasing a follow- up album to Cinta Anita (Love Anita). The 2010 album, released in Singapore and Malaysia, sold 3,000 copies.

Ms Joyce Lim, who was Sarawak's tour manager and housemate when they lived in Las Vegas in the 1980s, also last spoke to the singer in 2013.

"We spoke on the phone and she was in Kuala Lumpur then. She told me that she was thinking of moving back to the United States, and she had plans to start a jewellery line."

Sarawak, the only child of actor and director S. Roomai Noor and celebrated actress Siput Sarawak, became famous as a singer in her teenage years, and released her first English record, With A Lot O' Soul, in 1969.

She cut English and Malay records, performed at clubs and starred in television programmes. During the 1970s, she was Singapore's singing ambassador, promoting the country as a tourist destination in shows overseas.

Dubbed Singapore's First Lady of Song, her hits included Asmara (Love), Seksis (Sexist) and covers of Sophisticated Lady and Turn The Beat Around.

In 1985, she left for Las Vegas and spent 18 years there performing at Caesars Palace.

Mr Choy said: "Even if she can't make it for Sing50, we'd still like to feature her music, maybe in a tribute segment."

If you have any information on Anita Sarawak's whereabouts, please e-mail stlife@sph.com.sg with the heading "Anita Sarawak".


This article was first published on Mar 8, 2015.
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