Have You Heard Of Yunalis Zarai?

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 πŸ™‚

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!

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22 comments on “Have You Heard Of Yunalis Zarai?

  1. nadia says:

    I haven’t heard about her before, but she’s smart and has a good voice And yeah, it’s really impressive that she continued with hijab (showbiz isn’t really hijab-friendly).

    Thanks for sharing, Tien!

    • Tien says:

      Hi Nadia, Yuna is really big in Malaysia. But just starting out in the international music scene. I’m glad I am a Malaysian, or else I would’ve never heard of her before too. I love her image, she looks really graceful in a hijab. Simply beautiful!

  2. marvinallanwilliams says:

    A very impressive young lady with a clear voice. What a welcome change from some others who will go un-named.

  3. fariza says:

    Love her voice πŸ™‚

  4. leelouz says:

    very soothing music and voice… great find! thanks for sharing…:)

  5. Val Erde says:

    She sounds a bit to me like Suzanne Vega. And wow, she looks stunning too! πŸ™‚

  6. shinloo says:

    i’m surprised… a malaysian singer made it that far…

    • shinloo says:

      what are the odds? i’m watching this TV program about yuna going to new york and meeting russel simmons and some recording company to sign the contract… her english isn’t like, superb but her voice is kind of nice… agree that she reminds me of norah jones and olivia ong…

      • Tien says:

        Must be on Astro right? I think I heard of that program. Yes, an ordinary Malay girl but with a special talent. Who’s Olivia Ong??

    • Tien says:

      Me too, very impressive.

      • shinloo says:

        ya it’s on astro… olivia ong is a chinese singer… i downloaded yuna’s decorate… she actually didn’t sound malay (no offense) when she sang this song…

        • Tien says:

          Yes, I think so too. Yes, no Malay slang. I think that’s important to be more accepted in the international market. She has a very special sound πŸ™‚

  7. fitry says:

    I bought 2 albums by Yuna…besides decorate, her EP has superbly arranged music….the songs that’s gonna capture your attention are definitely Backpacking around Europe and Deeper Conversation…songs are more melancholic and mellowly sang…..her voice is just ethereal and I’m already addicted to her….

  8. Tien says:

    Hi Fitry! Thanks for dropping by to comment. Yes, I’ve been listening to her music on You Tube too. Thanks for the recommendation, Yuna does have a special sound πŸ™‚

  9. […] most popular post is the one I wrote about the talented Yunalis Zarai, a Malaysian singer song-writer who sounds like a combination of Norah Jones, Diana Krall and […]

  10. Anonymous says:

    She’s beautiful and has such a calm and soothing voice!!! She subverts stereotypes of Muslim women!!!! Hope she goes far and stays this way!!

  11. Hawa says:

    im glad u sharing about yuna…thank u very much dera coz sharing..a little bit info…abt her..this way..to the world to start recognized her as musician & talented..from herself

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