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Waldjinah celebrates 71st birthday, dreams of singing for Jokowi

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Thu, November 10, 2016  /  03:42 pm
Waldjinah celebrates 71st birthday, dreams of singing for Jokowi

Legendary keroncong singer Waldjinah celebrates her 71th birthday with family and friends at a restaurant in Surakarta, Central Java, on Nov. 8. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Legendary keroncong singer Waldjinah seemed bright and healthy when celebrating her 71st birthday on Tuesday night at a restaurant near Solo Balapan Station in Surakarta, Central Java.

At the occasion, she told guests she had one wish that had yet to come true, which was singing at the State Palace in Jakarta during the term of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who hails from Surakarta. Waldjinah shared how she had been invited to perform at the palace for Independence Day celebrations during the presidencies of Sukarno and Soeharto. 

"I want to collaborate with Edo Kondologit, singing songs by Erwin Gutawa. Edo is from Papua; I'm Javanese. If these two cultures collided in a song, the result would be great. Mas Erwin will be able to do it," she said. 

Waldjinah said she still enjoyed singing, even at her age. But due to health reasons, she has to be selective in accepting the invitations that come from within and outside of the city. "In the past month, I've started rehearsing again after taking a break from singing for eight months due to sickness."

(Read also: Waldjinah receives ‘love’ from Jokowi)

Waldjinah became a singer in 1959 when she was only 12 years old, stopping her formal education after junior high school. "I won a keroncong competition with Lokananta [Indonesia's first record label, in Surakarta] at 12 years of age. I sang 'Kembang Kacang' at the time; I was paid only Rp 15. Afterwards they asked me to make a recording."

Her consistency in the keroncong industry earned her the Bintang RRI award from former president Sukarno in Jakarta. During the eras of other former presidents, namely BJ Habibie, Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, Megawati Soekarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Waldjinah was also frequently invited to sing at Bogor Palace in West Java.

Following a stroke that put her in a coma in September 2012, she declared her retirement from keroncong. But after she recovered, she received an invitation to sing in Suriname the following year. After she came back from the tour, she fell sick again and was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal infection. "After three years of therapy, I was declared healthy and was allowed to sing again by my doctors and my children."

In the near future, the singer plans to release a compilation album with production house Dian Records in several countries, including Suriname, the Netherlands, Japan and China. (kes)

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