Life

Sherina Munaf: No 'chubby
cheeks' anymore


A. Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Watching the multi-talented Sherina sing and dance in a glossy white tank top and boots, those in the audience -- including journalists -- could hardly recognize her from her days as a child star.

Indeed, Sinna Sherina Munaf has come of age and is eager to leave her childhood behind.

""I'm a big girl now. Look, I don't have chubby cheeks anymore,"" Sherina said at the launch of her new album Primadona last Thursday.

""Yeah, it's hard to change my public image as a child singer. But I have to try now,"" said Sherina, whose big screen debut in Petualangan Sherina (Sherina's Adventure) reached the box office in 2000.

Sherina will turn 17 in June and probably would not be too keen to sing the more childish songs of her two earlier albums, 1999's Andai Aku Besar Nanti (When I Grow Up) in and 2000's Lihatlah Lebih Dekat (Take A Closer Look). The two albums earned Sherina several Indonesian music awards.

Watching her performance last Thursday, one would readily admit that Sherina is no longer a little girl, singing and jumping from one corner of the stage to the other as she did at the Jakarta Convention Center six years ago.

She is no longer the nine-year old girl who challenged a naughty boy and then saved him from kidnappers in Petualangan Sherina, her film debut seen by over one million people.

In the film, Sherina was not just a singer, but also an environmental activist who traveled to Japan to repatriate several orangutans.

Sherina's role in the film, produced by filmmaker Mira Lesmana and directed by Riri Riza, earned her a special award for the most talented child artist during the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2001.

The film's soundtrack was named the best children's album at the Indonesian Music Award in 2000 with Sherina winning best child singer and her song Lihatlah Lebih Dekat winning best children's song. Sherina showcased her singing skills on the album with the help of her mentor, the noted musician Elfa Secioria, who wrote and composed all of the songs.

While her songs in the first two albums were written by other artists, Sherina has written and composed six of the 11 songs on Primadona, which explores pop, rock and jazz.

""Each song shows my feelings when I created it. My songs do not follow any particular genre,"" she said.

One of the songs on Primadona, the rock-flavored track Sendiri (Alone), expresses anger and rejection at other people's expectations. Abdee Negara from the popular rock band Slank plays lead guitar for the song.

Sherina, who is now a student at the British International School, also sings her first romantic love song titled Better Than Love, written by her sister's boyfriend Madhatter Z.

""I'm not a romantic person. It's difficult to write a romantic song, probably because I have not experienced (falling in love),"" said Sherina, who said she hadn't yet had a boyfriend.

Other songs, such as 1000 Topeng, (1000 Masks), Singing Pixie, Here To Stay, show skill on piano and keyboards as well as her clear vocals.

Sherina's family introduced her to performing arts at a very young age. In fact, music has run in her family. Her father, Satriawan Munaf, was the keyboard player of 1970s pop band Giant Step, while her uncle Fariz Rustam Munaf was a famous singer in the 1980s.

In 2001, Sherina was involved in a fund-raising campaign for UNICEF, singing I Have a Dream with Irish boy band Westlife. Proceeds from the I Have a Dream album were donated to disabled children under the auspices of UNICEF.

Born in Bandung, West Java on June 11, 1990, Sherina has done more than just sing. Performing ballet, studying classical piano, learning English and studying the Chinese martial art Wushu are just some of the things she has done.

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