Australian woman gains online fame for singing in Malay
It is not every day that you see a blonde-haired and blue-eyed woman fluently belting Malay tunes.
But Australian singer-model Cassidy Anderson is one such talent, and has become a YouTube personality ever since she posted a video of herself singing Ombak Rindu in 2012.
Her version of the famous song by Malaysian singers Hafiz and Adira from the hit 2011 movie of the same name is one of her most popular covers to date, raking in about 750,000 views online at press time.
In fact, it earned her a nomination in the Social Media Nova category at the prestigious regional Malay music awards ceremony Anugerah Planet Muzik in 2012.
To date, Anderson, 27, has also covered Bebaskan - the Malay version of Let It Go from the Disney movie Frozen which boasts about 110,000 views- as well as Terukir Di Bintang by Yuna and Ku Tetap Kan Menunggu by Hady Mirza.
Three years since she dabbled in singing in Malay, Anderson feels ready to carve out a career in the Malay music industry.
In June, the Melbourne-based freelancer will be moving to Malaysia to work on her debut Malay-language EP.
The talented woman now juggles her job as a retail store assistant and zumba teacher with modelling, singing, entertaining at children's parties and ad-hoc stints impersonating Marilyn Monroe.
Creating her own music recording is something that she has always wanted to do.
Anderson, who is in town to perform at a high tea-cum-fashion show advocating female empowerment today, told The New Paper: "Opportunities have come my way and record labels have also approached me but the timing hasn't been right. I am a big believer of letting things happen when they should and not rushing into anything."
Her EP will feature a cover of an English-language song from the 50s translated into Malay as well as original compositions, some written in collaboration with several musicians.
She was secretive when prodded for more information but said that she hopes to release it later this year. "Ini rahsia (Malay for 'It's a secret')," she said coyly.
Anderson is also practising new Malay songs to cover, including Havoc by Malaysian rapper Joe Flizzow, a song she plans to add her self-penned verse to.
Yesterday, she released her latest video, a Malay version of Nobody by K-pop girl group Wonder Girls, together with four of her cousins.
Over the years, she has learnt more about Malay culture, tradition and entertainment.
The bubbly singer's interest in Malay music was first piqued in 2012 when she was based in Singapore in a three-year stint impersonating Marilyn Monroe at Universal Studios Singapore. She started taking Malay language lessons last year.
During her stay here, she made many Malay friends who encouraged her to try singing in Malay. They suggested Ombak Rindu, which was a hit song at the time.
"A lot of Malay songs sound so beautiful but I have always wondered what the words me-an. When I finally did Ombak Rindu, people were surprised that I sounded Malay. After that, I was hooked and I found myself devoting all my time to this language," she said.
Anderson names local actor Aaron Aziz as her favourite Malay heart-throb and 'putri salat' (a traditional Malay dessert) as her favourite Malay food, but preferred to keep mum when asked about her interest in Malay men.
"Oh you're cheeky! I think Malay men are very gentlemanly," she said, adding that her love life, like her EP plans, is a "rahsia" (Malay for secret).
She now has a Kuala Lumpur-based "cikgu Melayu" (Malay teacher) that she holds Skype sessions with five hours a week.
"I'm still very slow at translating speech but I'm better when I read. My vocabulary is still not strong.
"When someone talks to me, I will stare at them for a while as I process each word in my head," she said, laughing.
When it comes to nailing a song, she requires anything from two weeks to two months, depending on its complexity.
Her covers have garnered her a diverse fan base of various age groups and races. Reception has been largely positive, with some people comparing her to Malaysian singing legend Sheila Majid.
But a handful have criticised her pronunciation. "You can't always win. But most people have been so nice," she said.