The name Sudirman Arshad is not immediately recognisable as it once was, but play any of his songs and familiarity is soon to ensue for most Malaysians.

Afterall, his famous numbers such as “Balik Kampung”, “Warisan” and “Tanggal 31” still get a fair amount of air time each Hari Raya season and around August for the Merdeka celebrations.

Come 22 February next year, it will mark 25 years since the passing of the icon known as “Asia’s Number One Performer”.

He earned the monicker after winning the ‘‘Asian Popular Music Awards’’ competition at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1989.

In remembering the liconic singer, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) is organising a musical tribute and exhibition of Sudirman’s life and works on November 3 and November 5.

The show, titled “One Thousand Million Smiles” after another one of Sudirman’s hits, is being directed by klpac founder, Faridah Merican herself.

It is sad that because his life and career was cut short, his work is slowly being forgotten. But, this tribute is set to bring his music back in a big way. Music lovers will be treated to some of his best tunes such as Balik Kampung, Salam Terakhir, Hujan and, of course, One Thousand Million Smiles,” says Faridah.

Sudirman died suddenly, at the early age of 37, after mysteriously disappearing from public eye for a short while. It was later learnt that he had been suffering from pneumonia in the months that led to his death.

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Sudirman performing in Johor image credit: Sudirman Facebook Page

At the height of his fame, Sudirman was known to draw a sizable crowd of fans to his concerts. One of his performance in Chow Kit, attracted over 100,000 people, bringing traffic to a standstill in the capital city.

Klpac is also planning to start a Sudirman Scholarship Fund, which will be started from the proceeds of ticket sales for the musical tribute on November 5.

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Apart from being a talented singer, Sudirman was also known to be an actor and cartoonist.  image credit: Sudirman Facebook Page

Sudirnan’s nephew, Atai, is set to make an appearance at the show, alongwith singer, Dasha Logan, whose father is the late Alleycats vocalist, Loganathan Arumugam, another iconic Malaysian artist in his day.

Other singers for the tribute line-up include winner of ntv7’s Audition reality TV show, Tria Aziz, Aaron Teoh, Amir Hazril Harith, Ian Chow and Joel Wong.

As was the custom of musical shows of the 80s, the singers will be backed by a full orchestra performing live on stage under the baton of Lee Kok Leong as well as a five-piece band led by Loh Ui Li.

Klpac is also welcoming the public to contribute photographs and other mementos of Sudirman for the exhibition. Contributors can email soo@klpac.org or olivia@klpac.org to participate.

Tickets for the One Thousand Million Smiles tribute show is going between RM40 and RM80, subject to early bird promotions that started since Oct 1.

Meanwhile November 4 will be a charity gala musical night in aid of MyKasih Foundation’s ”Love My Neighbourhood’ food aid and training programmes in underserved communities. Ticket prices range from RM 40 and RM 50 and is tax-exempted.

You can purchase the tickets by calling klpac’s box office, 03- 4047 9000 or online via www.ticketpro.com.my.

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