From start to stage – musicians share their journey to performing at the Borneo Jazz Festival virtual showcase

Day Two of this renowned jazz festival kicks off today, with a virtual showcase of performances. Here are stories from three bands.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 540 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Held every summer in the east Malaysian city of Miri in Sarawak, the annual Borneo Jazz Festival (BJF) carries on in a new format in the times of the coronavirus – an online showcase.

The festival was earlier held at Miri’s Parkcity Everly Hotel, and then moved to Coco Cabana in Marina Bay. I covered three editions of the festival, across both venues, as shown in some of the pictures in this four-part photo essay (see Part I here).

This year, Borneo Jazz Festival 2021 Virtual Journey highlights some of the outstanding performers right since its first edition in 2006. The showcase will be streamed online for free, from 6:00-7:30 pm (Malaysia Standard Time) each day, on the weekend of June 25-27.

“After more than a year of watching the international entertainment industry, among others, innovate on how to reach out to their target groups, we look forward to seeing fans and new audiences embrace the BJF 2021 Virtual Journey,” says Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor, CEO, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB).

Les Doigts De L'Homme (France)

BJF 2021: Memories of Borneo

Local bands featured this year will include O-Ha Soul Band, Clinton Jerome Chua, Nisa Addina, Pete Kallang, and Ta'Dan Performance.

“Right now, my band is me and pianist Foo Jeng,” explains Nisa Addina, a violinist, composer and producer, in a chat with YourStory. She grew up in Sarawak and is now based in Kuala Lumpur.

She first met Foo in the Berklee College of Music. “We were both among the few Malaysians there. His compositions are wonderful and experimental, exciting! I thought of him to perform for Borneo Jazz because I thought he would be fun to work with,” Nisa recalls.

Nisa Addina (photo courtesy artist)

Music duo Ta’Dan was formed by Prostasindra and Daniel. “We met each other when playing in a cover band, for weddings and occasions. We played in a jazz cover band and we found out that we both share the same interest in music,” the musicians explain.

“We wanted to get further in the music that we played. That’s how we form our band as a duo. We wanted to play our own originals and our own versions of covers,” they recall.

The virtual stage

Flashback video segments at BJF will feature Habana Sax, Julian Chan Jazz Orchestra, Chandra Rule, Jazz Association Singapore, and Borneo Jazz Band with Zainal Abidin. Some of the earlier performers from India have included Dhruv Ghanekar, Gino Banks, and Sheldon D’Silva.

The Ta’Dan musicians say they are quite thrilled and fortunate to be able to perform at Borneo Jazz. “The festival has been one of the driving reasons why we would want to create our own music,” they explain.

“We discover a lot from the performers and music in the past festivals. And now being in one ourselves is like, Wow! The virtual experience also takes it to another level,” they say. “Being able to play and to be watched by the streaming audience is something new,” they enthuse.

Ta'Dan (image courtesy artist)

Pete Kallang, a vocalist and recording artist from Miri, says he is deeply honoured to be invited to perform at BJF this year as well. “It is an honour being part of a music festival that celebrates music both locally and internationally. It gives a platform to educate and create awareness of the importance of music,” he explains.

“I feel humbled that I get to represent Sarawak as a musician and to make my hometown proud. I want to be able to inspire freedom in arts,” Nisa Addina signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new inspiration for your creative core?

Albert Marsico Trio

Hazmat Modine

F.V.E. Project [Malaysia]


John Hammond

Jump4Joy (Sweden)

Junkofunc (Malaysia) - Borneo

Left - NJWA; Right - YK Band, Indonesa

New Cool Collective (Netherlands)

Nita Aartsen (Indonesia)

Schalk Jouberts and the Three Continents Sextet from South Africa

State of Monc (Holland)

Vocal Sampling - Cuba

Pete Kallang (image courtesy artist)

BJF 2021 Live interview

BJF 2021 - Oh-ha Soul Band

Talent Search - 2019

Handicrafts exhibition

BJF 2019

Miri riverfront

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

(Image credits - Madanmohan Rao and STB)

Edited by Kanishk Singh


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