Yunalis Zarai is a Malaysian singer-songwriter. I have seen her name appear in the Malaysian blogosphere many times before but never paid much attention. I thought she was just another teen pop sensation in the Malaysian music industry.
However, a few days ago, I read that she had gotten a contract with Fader Label from New York USA and has been actively performing around the US to promote her debut album Decorate. Decorate features songs in English and a few tracks in Malay language (Bahasa Malaysia), written entirely by herself. Her talent caught my attention, and if she could make it this far, I thought maybe she isn’t just another teen pop sensation.
More googling revealed that she has been an independent artiste, writing her own songs in her own unique style since she was 14. In 2006, 19-year old Yunalis Zarai, or better known by her stage name Yuna, gained popularity with her homemade music videos on her MySpace account, featuring herself singing her own songs with only her guitar. She has since graduated with a Law Degree, and started performing actively in acoustic gigs around Malaysia, singing in both English and Malay. She also went on to record an album which won her several music awards in Malaysia.
I decided to check her out to see what the buzz was all about this tall, slender and young singer with a conservative yet modern Muslimah (female Muslim) image. In fact, I was most impressed that Yuna did not compromise her Hijab (headscarf) wearing image to look more “commercial” as a singer and performer. I guess when you are as talented as Yuna is, all you really need is your voice and your music.
When I heard Yuna’s voice on You Tube, I was immediately reminded of the sounds of Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Perhaps a little of Colbie Callat too. She has such a distinctive smoky and sultry voice which is really captivating. Her style is jazzy (definitely not pop!) and her songs are very pleasant to listen to. Her lyrics tells stories. Yuna is no doubt a very talented artiste, a fresh flavour to add into the very much saturated music industry – both in Malaysia and the world. I hope she goes far
Here’s a very recent clip of Yuna performing her song Decorate live at Chicago’s IMAN Community Cafe. You can listen to more of her at YouTube, just search Yunalis Zarai. Enjoy her unique sound….!
P.S. She blogs too!