Too young…

I guess most of you would be too young to know this, but the first singer from Sarawak to release a recording in English was Rose Iwanaga and her group called The Avengers, and their first hit from their first EP – an extended play record of four songs – was this cover of Nat King Cole’s “Too Young”….

Actually, if I remember correctly, she was not supposed to be the first. There was another Kuching singer named Janice Wee, but her father passed away when she was expected to go to Singapore to do the recording with The Avengers. So to fulfil their contract with the company, the band had roped in Rose as a substitute. As they say, the show must go on.

Eventually, Janice went to Singapore and recorded her own EP with the Singapore group, The Boys (of Naomi and the Boys), and the best known song from it, of course, would be this one entitled “That one boy”…

I met Rose and the Avengers when they came to Sibu to perform live at the Palace Theatre. In the band, there were two brothers – Peter and Jimmy Ho and a tall guy named James Ong and the non-Chinese drummer, Jalek Zula.

Rose’s father, a friendly man of Japanese descent, once worked at SESCO at the bill collection centre at the Electra House in Kuching. He came to Sibu with them, so I got to meet him and when I was in Kuching in the 70s, I used to stop by the office to say hello.

I only saw Rose again once many years after that first time at some St Joseph’s Cathedral parish dinner that was held at St Joseph’s Secondary School across the road. I hear she is still singing today with some band that performs mostly oldies…but I’ve yet to catch them in action.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I do not think there have been any English recording artistes since then, though we may have a number in Malay or Chinese or the local languages…until this girl who actually came from Miri but later moved to KL, and I gather that she is currently very popular in the US – Zee Avi. I like this one by her but it is not her single, “Bitter Heart” or one of her English recordings…

The name of the song is “Kantoi” and it is sung in a mixture of Malay and English, reminiscent of some of the songs by the legendary P. Ramlee. I find it lively and catchy and ideal for some sing-along sessions. Well, do give it a listen and let me know what you think…

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

21 thoughts on “Too young…”

  1. Yeah, It’s catchy. She just finished her tour if I’m not mistaken. Following her on my twits. Ha ha ha …well, apart from that we got Chenelle – she’s a Sabahan, making it big in the US.

    It’s good news that our musicians are branching out of this tiny map of Malaysia and try to enter the bigger pool. It’s a good exposure. Zee Avi may find it hard to compete with the likes of Norah Jones, Bubble perhaps unless Oprah decided to interview her instead. Well, we never know.

    She got this 40’s voice, folk music like. Cool

    By the way, I like Honey Bee .. ha ha ha

    To each his own…Hehehehehe!!! Ya, something along the lines of people like Norah Jones. I see you’re a fan! LOL!!!

  2. Archie sounds cool .. ha ha ha. I’m a fan of the success, music-wise not really into this genre but if I were to give it a try, like listening to it for a few times, I might get hooked up with it. Like how “A Little Too Not Over You” keeps on playing in my head right now .. grrr!

    Why Archu now? Thought at that time, you were supporting Cooker the Rocker?…I was the one behind Archu all the way but I do wish they would get him some nicer songs. So far – mostly teeny-booper stuff! All very forgettable and not destined to be one of those evergreen classics!

    1. During AI, Archie was a bit boring, Cooker was not but when it comes to having on LP, I think Archie got nicer songs compared to Cook, at least something of that I can sing, same notes, same voice range and catchy.

      Yup…I was thinking Cook was better; I loved especially his “1st time ever I saw ur face” and the Phantom of the Opera song…but based on how they did in the final, Archu should have won…and I’m still sore about it!

  3. Heard of The Avengers. I think my dad has their record or something. I thought they were not local. Hahahaha!

    It looks like haze, it smells like haze, it feels like haze…and IT IS haze!!! Hazy in Kuching…

    LOL!!! You’re TOO young, that’s why! Weather here was clear and fine this morning…but now dark and cloudy – I think a storm is brewing…

  4. hahahahaha… God… Rose Iwanaga.. hahahaha… as for Zee Avi’s kantoi.. great sounding melody.. brings you back to some P. Ramlee movie.. the lyrics hilarious .. kantoi indeed

    Ya…exactly what crossed my mind when I first heard it. Not bad, not bad at all!

  5. Indeed I’m too young to know any of them. haha 😀

    I don’t think they got any airplay at all on the KL or Singapore stations, but they were rather popular locally at the time – in Sarawak. Well, Zee is new…but I wonder if it is just a flash in the pan, like that girl from Sabah – Che’nelle… Nothing has been heard of her since “I fell in love with the dj”…

  6. What a small world. Janice Wee is a distant relative of mine and she is now staying in Melbourne. Met her when I went over a few years ago. I must tell her someone in Sarawak still remembers her 🙂

    Small world indeed. And do tell her also that TSA (formerly known as Coma Smith) on RedeFm (formerly RTM Kuching – English service) still plays her song(s) regularly on air…

    1. I am Canadian who had the privilige and pleasure of working in Sarawak during the mid sixties. For a few weeks I lived in an apartment at the Borneo Hotel in Kuching, then owned by Janice’s mother.

      I met Janice who was grieving the sad loss of her father. Nontheless I adored Janice who introduced me to her music. I came to love her songs. I have her early records which I play to this day. I continue to listen to her singing which always brings back memories fondly cherished.

      Please pass on to Janice my deepest love and affection.

      Hello. Welcome and thanks for dropping by. I hear that Janice is now living in Australia. I didn’t know her mum had a share in the Borneo Hotel. I know the owner – the late Ambrose Wong Ik Loi – he was my grandpa’s cousin…and my godfather. Small world, indeed. Yes, Janice had to miss her chance to record the first English EP record by a Sarawak singer because of the demise of her father…and Rose Iwanaga went in her place instead. Cheers from halfway across the universe…

    2. What does TSA stand for? Thanks!

      Teman Setia Anda, the tagline for RTM (Radio Television Malaysia). If I am not wrong, he has retired now so is no longer on air.

  7. Oldies is always nicer than the pop songs and it last longer.

    Some has long staying power…always nice to listen to over the years, but unfortunately most popular songs these days tend to be somewhat forgettable…and most of them are mere one-hit wonders.

  8. yuh the song so nice!

    maybe can go n download their album.. zee avi’s song is nice as well. i subscribed to her on youtube. haha. her english sounds very nice.. haha. can play ukulele summore..

    I don’t think they’ve any album – Rose Iwanaga and the Avengers released three Eps and Janice Wee had one. Ya…you play the guitar too, right?

  9. I like Zee Avi as well. She sounds great! Been playing her songs on YouTube for a while now.. since she debuted her album, last month? 19th May I think? She was already quite famous back then, under the nickname Kokokaina in YouTube.

    Kantoi! Kantoi!

    ps: Happy Father’s Day, STP. (Belated :P)

    Thanks, as they say – better late than never! 🙂 Yup…all the info is in her website and also on wiki…

  10. Oh yeah, I am really too young to know about The Avengers and Janice Wee hahahaha! I know Nat King Cole though! 😛

    Gosh! Nat King Cole’s way before them…but then I guess Nat’sa legend – like Elvis Presley, so more likely to know him.

  11. Rose Iwanaga is a Sarawakian? Now I know.

    Yup…you must have heard TSA/Coma Smith playing her songs and I bet you love her songs since you’re into those oldies but goodies kind of stuff!

  12. i’ve heard of that particular Janice Wee song before… The melody sounds very familiar. Is that the original version?

    On the Kuching station perhaps? They still play it time and again… I’m not sure but I think it’s original – probably written by one of the Suriya brothers in the band, the Boys, as it sounds somewhat similar to the songs by Naomi Suriya and the Boys.

  13. I like the Janice Wee’s song. Is that original? Can’t really remember a lot of S’wakian singers who sang in english. I recalled a Flora Santos,I think she is from KK, n also Francesca something,from KL,one of the Msian patriotic song was sung by her,(malay version)….the ‘go-bee-terng’gal,but she sang in mandarin….apart from that…clueless!… I know of October Cherries…beautiful sunday,not sure where they are from,held a big concert in Sibu….

    See reply to Sumuk’s comment… Don’t think Flora Santos had an English recording…Gosh! That’s Francesca Peters from Malacca who used to sing with Roy – and the patriotic song is “Setia”. If you remember, my cousin on my dad’s side also a recording artiste – Chinese songs. Dunno why I missed October Cherries – I think I was in Kuching at the time but then, I saw the Strollers when I was there…

    1. frencesca peters …

      FrAncesca Peters who used to sing duets with Roy (Sta Maria) – Tak kenal maka tak cinta…and Siapa dia sebelum daku…and then she went solo…

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