SINGAPORE - He's Malay and his ability to sing in Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese surprises people.
But what really raises eyebrows is when he tells them he's a getai singer.
Rawi Hamim is also part of this year's Chingay Parade.
"When I started out as a getai singer 25 years ago, I was definitely the first Malay (to do so)," said the 53-year-old bachelor who works at the front office of Gleneagles Hospital.
"Now I think there are five or six Malay getai singers on the circuit."
Before his foray into the getai world, he was a singer in the People's Association band.
He credits actor-deejay Marcus Chin for getting him on the getai circuit.
Chin, 60, said: "I met him at a show I was hosting back in the 80s. I saw that not only could he sing, but he could dance as well."
He said he wanted a Malay singer for getai shows at community centres.
"I saw that he had the potential, so I advised him to learn some dialect songs so that he could perform in more shows," he said. "The reception was wonderful whenever he performed a song in dialect."
Despite his resolve, Rawi's first few steps into the getai world were tentative.
"It took me more than a month to learn my first Mandarin song and another six months before I could perform on stage," he said, adding that he was full of nerves for his first performance.
"I was so afraid that I would mispronounce the lyrics because at that time I was still unfamiliar with the language.
"But thank God I did okay, and today, here I am getting ready to perform in front of the Prime Minister in tonight's Chingay Parade."
Mr Aaron Tan, 38, who runs Lex(s) Entertainment Productions, said he wanted to show that there are non-Chinese getai singers.
"When the organisers approached me to include a getai segment in this year's Chingay Parade, I knew it was my chance to show the talent in my industry," he said.
Rawi performed Ji Lang Ji Pua, a popular song from the movie 881, that was rewritten for the parade, with three other popular getai singers, Lee Pei Fen, Wang Lei and Liu Ling Ling.
The theme this year is Colours Of Fabric, One People, and it features 8,000 volunteers performing in 36 acts.
Businessman Goh Peng Tong, who was at the parade with his wife, said: "This is not my first Chingay parade but I am truly impressed with Rawi for singing songs in Mandarin and dialect."
Tonight will be the second of two nights of the parade, which will take place in front the F1 pit building.
Tickets costing between $28.50 and $60 are still available at Sistic.
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