Tough times for former pop star

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IN the late 90s, pop band Umbrella was at the height of their fame, with scores of teenage fans following their every move.

With their boyish good looks, the band in 1995 had a hit song Ramalanku Benar Belaka from its debut album Seribu Rahmat which sold nearly 100,000 units.

But with the emergence of newer bands at the turn of the century, Umbrella was slowly forgotten by music listeners.

Lead singer Zairulkefli Husin (Zarul) resorted to selling apam balik in Shah Alam in 1999 to make ends meet.

A year later, Zarul was accepted to join Malaysia Airlines Berhad as a
flight attendant.

“I never really stopped singing. I went solo in 2002 and Umbrella got back together in 2011. Two years later, we re-released Ramalanku Benar Belaka.”

Zarul added that he moonlights as a singer on his days off.

“I sing a couple of songs at a time and that’s about it. I had to focus on my career as a flight steward and only sang as to not lose my skills.”

During Week 2 of Astro’s reality singing competition Gegar Vaganza 3, Zarul wowed the audience with his rendition of Lestari’s classic Sekelip Mata Kau Berubah.

Zarul admitted to not having high hopes of winning the competition.

“Some of the best singers in the country are in the competition. Winning will not be an easy task but I will give it my best.”

Azharina Azhar also impressed in Week 2 when she performed Sheila Majid’s Sinaran.That earned the 31-year-old Sabahan the Best Vocal Award.

Azharina said her task in Week 3 would be more challenging as she was to sing Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry.

“I will no doubt cry as I need to memorise an English song. I just hope I don’t make a mess of things.”

And it was the end of the line for 80s crooner Razis Ismail, who was voted out of the competition by the panel of judges — Datuk Ramli M.S., Datuk Khatijah Ibrahim and Datuk A. Rahman Hassan.

Gegar Vaganza 3 airs on Astro Ria and Ria HD on Sundays at 9pm.