I just wrote one song at a time. Kinda like an alcoholic. One day at a time.— Neil Young, singer-songwriter
After his untimely demise, I wish to do my last tribute to a friend of over 30 years, after all, yesterday completed a month of his passing.
On Saturday, Aug 18, 2017, I was invited by my late friend, Jimmy Adit, to join him for a rendezvous at the Serian Community Hall.
Later, looking at a banner, I found out it was the launch of an all-English album Dream of You, comprising eight original compositions.
The singer was none other than Jimmy himself, who was then a social worker apart from being a senior and prolific journalist.
Besides his mother tongue Iban, and English, he spoke fluent Malay and the various Bidayuh dialects. All the songs were composed by Basree Hassan @ Elvis BasLee, the proprietor of Dirgahayu Film Production and Broadcasting Studio.
In Dream of You, the studio had created a first for itself after having been involved in the making of films and song albums for close to 50 years.
In the words of Jimmy himself, Basree, an Elvis tribute artiste, had taken a brave step of producing this album.
“I sing all eight songs and am proud to be part of this pioneering effort,” said Jimmy, who once joined a few of us Elvis impersonators to perform at The Steppes (now closed) in Simpang Tiga, Kuching, in 2009. He earned the nickname Eljim after the rendezvous with the Elvises, especially after rendering Just Tell Her Jim Say Hello during the show.
Given the honour to launch the album was then Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem, a close friend of Jimmy’s.
“Ivy is my sound engineer, a seven-grader drums specialist and working hard to get her keyboard talent recognised. She spent many sleepless nights in front of the computer, creating and arranging my music.
“She is not even 22 but her work rate and talents amaze me. Most importantly, she feels for my songs and my singing, which really helps in getting the results we were working at,” said Jimmy to me during the launch.
By the time I joined The Borneo Post in 2006, Jimmy was flying high with his Jadit column ‘Dayak Music Now and Then’.
He was nevertheless humble with the column’s high rating and acknowledged that I had done well too with my own column ‘Sunday Music Scene by Anya Kedap’ that ran from November 2004 to the week before The Sarawak Tribune was closed in February 2006.
Such modesty was the hallmark of Jimmy, both in his writing, his splendid guitar play, his singing and his role as editor of a daily newspaper as well as other journalistic excellence.
Jimmy’s former band, whose members he had grown up with for at least 30 years, provided the musical accompaniment for songs rendered during the entire launch.
Of mixed racial backgrounds, they also accompanied Jimmy’s few songs for the evening, including Dream of You. He also rendered Jacqueline, an original song by former Elvis of Malaysia, the late Rocky Teoh.
When pressed further, Jimmy said, “Dream of You is possible because of two people, Elvis BasLee (EBL) and Ivy Nelson Arthur Naing. It was EBL’s idea that I should work on an English album. I was like, would be doing an Elvis or Shakin’ Stevens, both of whom are my favourite singers. EBL, however, had better ideas. He said I should be myself, meaning we would work only on originals.”
“The final product, however, we owe it to Ivy. She demanded the best from me, and she was quite hard to please. At the end of it all, I must say it has been worth every second of our combined effort.”
For the record, Dream of You is the first original English album by an Iban artiste. In the 60s, Christopher Kerry Landong (now deceased) recorded four songs in SP vinyl disc, featuring songs by established singers. I remember one of the songs was Keep On Running originally by Sir Tom Jones.
A number of people also took to the mic to croon their favourites during the launch. Riot rendered Angin Malam by Broery Marantika. Iconic Bidayuh artiste Richmond Allan Morshidi also performed.
For my late friend, his album launch perhaps brought him a life-changing romantic shift, as evidenced by his chemistry with Ivy who remained with him to the end. I pray for his peaceful eternal rest.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.