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Beloved musician, activist Glenn Fredly mourned by many

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, April 9, 2020  /  06:39 pm
Beloved musician, activist Glenn Fredly mourned by many

Glenn Fredly performs at the Sewindu Festival at Istora Senayan, Jakarta, on Nov. 1, 2019. (JP/Narabeto Korohama)

Indonesia has lost one of its beloved musicians. Glenn Fredly Deviano Latuihamallo passed away at the age of 44 from meningitis.

A family representative said that the disease had made Glenn particularly uncomfortable in the last month, which led to his hospitalization at Setia Mitra hospital in South Jakarta, where he died on Wednesday evening.

The singer-songwriter was among the most popular musicians in the country, known for his velvety voice, humble demeanor and a stream of hits of his own as well as with other singers.  

Born on Sept. 30, 1975, Glenn won several singing competitions while in elementary school. He also won first prize in the Cipta Pesona Bintang singing contest in 1995 and was a finalist in the Asian Song Festival one year later.

The singer made his way onto the music scene by becoming a vocalist for the band Funk Section in 1995. Their first single, “Terpesona”, was an instant hit. Glenn released his debut solo album in 1998 and made 10 albums between then and 2012. He received nine awards from the Indonesian Music Awards (AMI), including Best Pop Song and Best R&B Male Solo. Glenn later lent his talents to numerous film soundtracks, including the popular “Malaikat Juga Tahu” from Rectoverso.

There was a time when Glenn’s discography was seemingly dominated by song after song about heartbreak. He became synonymous with melancholic love songs, but that’s also when his sorrow found company in the heart of many people. Many have shared on social media that they found solace in his songs and that his death was an immense loss to them.

In 2011, Glenn founded Trio Lestari with fellow singers Tompi and Sandhy Sondoro. Each member of the trio had a well-established music career and was a renowned vocalist: Tompi with his pop touches, Sandy with a light rock style and Glenn with R&B and soul chops. From 2015 to 2016, they had a weekly talk show on Trans TV called Live with Trio Lestari, where they performed and shared humorous political and social commentary. The trio’s most recent song, “Tinggal Bilang", was released in 2019 as a collaboration with composer Ricky Lionardi.

Glenn once said he was deeply influenced by Michael Jackson, including his humanitarian efforts, which inspired Glenn to be active in social issues. He founded the Green Music Foundation (GMF) in 2009 to help the poor. He was especially interested in helping people in eastern Indonesia, and through the GMF, he helped provide clean water and electricity to people living in Waikokak village in Ende, East Nusa Tenggara.

Upon his passing, many shared their admiration for the singer for standing up for justice and the environment. He had shown his support for the weekly protest Kamisan, held by survivors and families of victims of past human right abuses in front of the State Palace; the GKI Yasmin dispute in Bogor, West Java; the Benoa Bay reclamation project in Bali; the rights of political prisoners in Maluku; and peace in Papua.

He was particularly invested in peace in Maluku following bloody sectarian strife in Ambon and Tual in 1999 with a death toll of more than 2,000. Along with director Angga Sasongko, Glenn acted as producer of Cahaya dari Timur: Beta Maluku (Light from the East: I am Maluku), which tells the story of a football coach trying to mend the severed threads of brotherhood in the area through sports. It went on to win Best Film at the 2014 Indonesian Film Festival (FFI).

Usman Hamid of Amnesty International said, “He will be remembered as a musician who took a stand for human rights.” They first met at an album launch event for the rock band Slank in 2008, and their relationship continued afterward.

“He actively helped human rights campaigns in 2010 and made real efforts to improve the human rights condition in the country,” said Usman. “After the Ambon conflict died down, he was upset to see people getting attacked for having different beliefs. He built solidarity among musicians, and with [musician] Franky Sahilatua he criticized the government for insufficient protection of people’s rights to religious freedom and the freedom of thought.”

Glenn also sought to improve the Indonesian music industry by holding the Indonesian Music Conference (KAMI). Its first installment was held in Ambon in February 2018 with 350 delegates, including promoters, musicians, music labels and representatives of several ministries such as the Finance Ministry and the Education and Culture Ministry.

Glenn made sure to involve all stakeholders in the industry and cover crucial topics, such as an integrated data collection system and gender equality. The conference came up with a 12-point action plan for the country’s music ecosystem. The second edition of KAMI took place in November of last year in Bandung, with topics that included forming a musician’s union and the development of cities of music.

“Music plays a big role in our lives, but sadly, not every [musician] in this country is treated fairly and can work sustainably,” Glenn said during a press conference for KAMI in November at M Bloc Space in South Jakarta.

Read also: Draft legislation on music sparks criticism from musicians

Upon his passing, public figures and musicians took to social media to share their condolences. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said, “[He] inspired the youth in the country, especially musicians, because of his vast, deep dedication to his art as a songwriter, singer and activist. Glenn Fredly has gone, but his work is eternal.”

Singer Yura Yunita, who scored a big hit with Glenn with “Cinta dan Rahasia” in 2014, said, “You were the first person who ever believed in me. When we last talked, you said you were going to take a break from music, but… No word could ever describe how thankful I am for all the kindness, love, lessons and the many beautiful things you’ve given me and all of us.” 


Rasanya baru kemarin , gak pernah nyangka ini jadi panggung terakhir kita. Ini jadi terakhir kalinya duet bareng nyanyiin lagu kita. Setelah acara ini kita ngobrol panjaaaang banget tentang kehidupan, mimpi mimpi kita, Kak Glenn yang tak henti hentinya dari dulu sampai sekarang selalu ucap doa & harapannya untuk Yura, jadi orang pertama yg selalu percaya sama Yura. . Terakhir Kak Glenn bilang “ Neng, habis ini aku mau istirahat dulu ah dari musik, ngga akan nyanyi dulu“ 😭😭 Tapi kaaak... . . Selamat istirahat Kakakku tersayang, Glenn Fredly . Aku sangat merasa kehilangan 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 . Berjuta kata ngga ada yang bisa menggambarkan betapa bersyukurnya, betapa berterimakasihnya aku atas semua kebaikan, besarnya cinta, ilmu pelajaran, kesempatan, dan begitu banyak hal indah yang telah Kak Glenn berikan untuk aku dan kita semua 🥀💔🙏😭

A post shared by YURA YUNITA (@yurayunita) on

Musician Fariz RM wrote, “Indonesia cried. Yesterday, I lost one of Indonesia’s greatest songwriters, musicians, producers… My dearest best friend and ‘little brother’ forever. RIP, brother, your music will always be long-lasting for us.”

Former maritime affairs and fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti wrote, “So long, Glenn Fredly. Rest in peace.”

Singer Sherina Munaf wrote, “You’ve touched so many hearts, inspired many generations of musicians through your kindness, beautiful voice and music. No doubt your work will transcend time. Your legacy will continue to live forever in our hearts.”

Glenn is survived by his wife Mutia Ayu and a baby daughter born in February. (wng)


Gisela Swaragita contributed to this story.

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