‘War Cry’ song celebrates Malaysian Borneo’s heritage

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From left: Marsha Milan, Velvet Aduk and Alena Murang.-Photo by Haikal Shuib & Artwork by Kanid Studio

KOTA KINABALU (Sept 16): Two Sabahans and a Sarawakian have released a new song and music video called “War Cry” which is set to celebrate the rich natural and cultural heritage of Sabah and Sarawak.

The song, written and performed by Marsha Milan, Velvet Aduk and Alena Murang, draws inspiration from the traditional chants and sounds of the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, and encourages people to take pride in their heritage through music and visual storytelling.

“War Cry” is not a literal war cry, but rather a metaphorical call to action for unity and pride. The lyrics speak of the strength and resilience of the indigenous peoples, their love for their homeland, and their commitment to preserving their natural and cultural heritage.

The music video, which features stunning visuals and elements of the natural beauty of Malaysian Borneo and its traditions, further captures the spirit of the song.

The release of “War Cry” is timely, as it coincides with the celebration of Malaysia Day on 16th September.

The song is a powerful reminder of the diversity and richness of Malaysia, and it is a call to all Malaysians to come together and celebrate our diverse natural and cultural heritage.

The War Cry project is a joint collaboration between Red Velvet Music, MLE Records & Talents, and Kanid Studio, supported by the Ministry of Communications and Digital and My Creative Ventures Group through the My Creative Ventures Dana Kandungan Digital (DKD) – Dana Irama Perpaduan 2023 grant.

Velvet a music producer, composer and singer-songwriter from Sabah, began her career in the Malaysian entertainment industry by appearing on an Astro reality show before becoming one of the top five finalists of Akademi Fantasia 4 in 2006.

Currently, she is independently building her music catalog by creating and producing more music for herself and others. Her musical styles range from traditional world music to pop, bluesy and ballads.

She has written and produced over 20 songs throughout the years.

“Sumandak Sabah”, a song with over 16 million YouTube views written together with Marsha, is one of her most successful releases.

Oi Gaman (six million YouTube views) and Tiga Kali Satu Hari (1.9 million YouTube views) are the other songs that have been released.

Reality, her first self-written album, was published in August 2022.

Velvet is passionate about fostering local empowerment through music, especially in the Sabah, and Borneo music scene, and she expresses this through the music she creates. She writes music almost exclusively at home, in her private studio, where she can be alone with her thoughts.

Marsha, also from Sabahan, is a singer, actress, and television host. She started her music career in the third season of the Malaysian singing competition, Akademi Fantasia, in 2005.

After the competition, she released her debut single, “Untuk Terakhir Kali” in 2005. She went on to release several more singles, and has collaborated with other Malaysian artists as well.

In 2022, during Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL) 36th, Marsha managed to single-handedly snatch the Best Performance award with her incredible vocal range that captivated the audience’s with her single Cinta, and she has also won the first runner-up.

Aside from music, Marsha has also acted in several television dramas and films, including “The Maid 2” and “Terobek Raya”.

She has also hosted several television shows, including “Mentor Millenia” and “Casa Impiana”.

Marsha is known for her powerful vocals and her ability to sing in multiple languages, including Malay, English, and Dusun.

Alena from Sarawak draws inspirations from the past and present, from her Dayak Kelabit heritage, her name has become synonymous with the sape’, a lute instrument of the highland tribes of the island. The first female to professionally perform and teach the sape’, Alena has been learning the instrument from master sape’ player Mathew Ngau for 20 years, and also master Salomon Gau. Her first EP, Flight (2016), presents interpretations of traditional Kelabit and Kenyah songs. She has presented these songs in festivals across the world, including SXSW (USA), Colors of Ostrava (Czech Republic), Paris Fashion Week (France), Rudolstadt Festival (Germany), OzAsia Festival (Australia), and Rainforest World Music Festival (Malaysia).

Since then her self-produced music videos in collaboration with like-minded artists, have been selected for film festivals in different corners of the world.
She was also a youth representative at the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, and UNESCO Asia-Pacific for her work in intangible cultural heritage.

In 2021, Alena released Sky Songs, an album inspired by elements of the cosmos – the sky, moon, wind, stars, clouds. Alena Murang has been featured on Nat Geo People, Channel News Asia, Asian Nikkei Review, NPR Radio, BBC Radio 2, Radio 6, CBC News, Discovery Channel, Double J, etc.