Concert Launches Local Music Talents
By Yam Phui Yee
Penang-based … Loo (left) and her band, SAND, will be performing two songs written by her son. Photos courtesy of each interviewee.
MGM Nite, said to be the largest concert of Christian artistes and bands in one evening, will make its debut with over a dozen local Christian solo artistes and bands sharing the stage this Sunday.
The event will mark the launch of Malaysian Gospel Music (MGM) -- a fellowship of home grown talents in the Christian music scene -- as well as the MGM Adore album -- a CD featuring 12 songs by local Christians -- and will feature some 15 to 20 Christian names, some of whom are Patrick Leong, KB Chan, HT Long, SAND, 1 AM, Good Shepherd Band, Esther Mui, Raymond Tan, Kelvyn Yeang, Josh Yeoh, Gabby Tham, Julia Pong, Elena Koshy, Maltida Radge, Tabitha Kong, Joe Loy and the Warehouse Project; and Free To Fall.
Ng … local gospel music quality has improved but still lacks hit songs.
MGM steering committee member Rev Ng Wah Lok said that the Christian music scene has achieved significant successes, with recording labels like Oops! Asia, 1AM and Saved for a New Destiny (SAND); websites like the Malaysian Christian Songwriters Network (MCSN) and Tabernacle Music; as well as award-winning singer Juwita Suwito entering into the mainstream music industry.
MGM Nite will also give recognition to locals with over 20 years of contribution in growing Christian music here.
On the local gospel music front, Ng found the quality of songs have improved but still lack hit songs in the same calibre of Matt Redman's Heart of Worship and Darlene Zschech's Shout to the Lord, which have been sung in churches across the globe.
"I think those songs will come soon. MGM’s vision is to try to make that happen," Ng remarked.
“With just over 1 million Christians in Malaysia, the local market is really small for gospel artistes here,” said Ng, who is also a composer most remembered for his song, Everytime I Pray.
Ng said that formidable challenges lie before industry players here to change people’s perceptions and mind sets that local albums are of low quality.
Leong … his latest album's title track, Inseparable, serves as a song of encouragement.
“We are on the right track and need to keep pushing, training and encouraging our locals to rise up and stop chasing (popular Christian music groups like) Hillsongs and Planet Shakers. Foreign songs are good and have its place, but the Malaysian Church must also rise to make its own impact,” Ng added.
Others on the steering committee are Mustard Seed Company lead pastor Rev Dr Nicholas Wu, Saved for a New Destiny (SAND) founder Lucy Loo, pianist and songwriter Esther Mui, and Oops! Asiaco-founder Patrick Leong.
Penang-based SAND comprises members from seven churches and has recorded albums in English, Mandarin and Hokkien, with a mix of genres that include gospel pop, R&B, rock and hip hop.
“My hope is that churches in Malaysia will begin to sing more local songs and that we will mentor and raise up more young songwriters,” said Loo, whose band will be performing at a fund raising concert in Singapore next month.
SAND will be performing two songs entitled In This Land and Satu Malaysia dengan Satu Hati, both written by the band's youngest member and Loo's 17-year-old son, Jeremy Ng.
Talented Ng completed a diploma in piano performance at age 12. His song, In This Land has been recorded by Kingsway music UK in their latest Heart of Worship 10 album.
Mui … hopes MGM Nite will spark greater awareness of songs written by local Christians.
Leong, on the other hand, is an industry veteran who has opened the late Pavarotti's concert and provided back-up vocals for numerous celebrities like Dato Siti Nurhaliza, Kris Dayanti, Wang Leehom and Ning Baizura. He will be rendering the title track from his fourth and latest album, Inseparable.
“It is a song of encouragement, especially to those who have been hurt, or lukewarm or cold (in their faith). It is a song about the bond we have with God, established through Christ on The Cross, that has made us inseparable,” said Leong, who based the song on the Bible verse in Romans 8:37 which states: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Leong is working on the MGM Adore album, which all concert ticket holders will receive as complimentary copy at MGM Nite. His company, Oops! Asia, will be releasing a compilation of 20 songs on spiritual revival in Malaysia, written by Malaysians, of course.
Mui had founded the MCSN website in 2006 and has composed over 100 songs by now. The mother of two has two albums under her name: Songs of Ascents and Songs of the New Covenant.
Mui hopes that MGM Nite will spark greater awareness of songs written by local Christians.
Also lending their support for MGM is youth band 1AM, which is the abbreviation of One Accord Ministry. 1AM is the worship and creative team at Eaglepoint -- a Puchong-based church.
1AM, whose seventh worship album is slated for next year, will be presenting their original compositions, Pour Out Your Spirit and My Father. The latter was written by Lim -- whose parents divorced when he was young -- to encourage others to find strength in the Father in Heaven.
One Accord … Lim (second row, center) and his band, 1AM, will be presenting their original compositions, Pour Out Your Spirit and My Father, at the concert.
*MGM Nite is happening on Nov 27 at 7pm, at Wisma Eagles, Subang Jaya. Tickets are priced at RM20 each, with a complimentary CD of MGM Adore. Visit www.m-csn.com/mgmnite.htm for ticketing details.