Bujang Sarawak starts it all for ‘joget’ man Maxwell Franklin

KUCHING: It has been 12 years but Bujang Sarawak, a joget-tinged Iban song, is still popular today and remains the favourite request during functions, Gawai festivals and at the karaoke lounges.Maxwell Franklin Saran was just 17 when he recorded that song, which has one very memorable line — ‘Bujang, Bujang Sarawak coba anang di coba’ (don’t challenge the courage of a Sarawakian man).

Until today, Maxwell admits Bujang Sarawak is still his most remembered song, although he has released numerous solo and compilation albums.

He said he still gets requests to sing that song, and when he does, he said it never fails to attract a big crowd of people dancing along to its swaying melodies.

“Bujang Sarawak is also my first album. To date I have released seven albums with few other hit songs, but people especially Iban music followers will still link me to Bujang Sarawak,” he said when met yesterday.

Maxwell, 28, and hailing from Lingga, Sri Aman, is a journalist with an Iban magazine Buletin Kenyalang.

According to him, he pens his own songs although he did not receive any formal training in music.

And he was proud to say that he had won awards.

At Dayak Music Awards (Dama) 2008, he won the best Iban patriotic song award for his composition ‘Sarawak’.

He also won awards in the Anugerah Juara Lagu Tebilang Iban (AJLTI).

He is also known for his onstage charisma.

In 2004 Anugerah Juara Rentak Ruai (Ajarr), he won the best performance award with ‘Baka Perahu Patah Kemudi’.

“I never received any formal training in music, but that did not stop me from pursuing my interest.

“How did I get into this industry? I actively joined singing competitions when I was young, and I even entered the state-level Bintang Asli Remaja.

“And since I am now an established singer, I will continue to pen and sing more songs especially in Iban,” he said.

His latest album is ‘Selindang Mayang Pesaka Nyawa’.

Asked why he is sticking to joget for his albums, he said it is the current taste of Iban music lovers.

“The joget beat is akin to begendang, which is traditional dance beat among the Ibans. Many Ibans relate to this kind of beat, because it reminds them of their longhouse, their cultural identity and the Gawai spirit.

“And I have to follow the current taste of Iban music lovers in order for my albums to sell,” he said.

Maxwell is one of the six singers to perform at Konsert Lagu Iban Tebilang at Borneo Convention Centre (BCCK) on April 10.

The other singers are Ricky El, Linda Simai, Joyce Menti, Sima and James Jacob.

They will be accompanied by seasoned musicians from the group Maya.

This concert is jointly organised by Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) Stampin branch and Iban online community portal — www.radiokitai.com.

Meanwhile, Sadia Stampin branch secretary Mervyn Tajem said 70 to 80 per cent of the tickets had been sold thus far.

He also said roadshows to promote the concert had commenced since last Sunday.

“Initially, we have tickets for 2,000 seats but we may have to allocate more because demands are pouring in,” he said.

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