CLAIR Rozells has never wanted to be
a singer but ended being one nevertheless. When she was five years
old, Clair would sing the opening verse of Tammy Wynette’s "Stand
By Your Man" whenever her mother scolded her. “I would spin around
and sing; “Sometimes, it’s hard to be a woman?”, said Clair
Rozells is the daughter of singers James Rozells and Joyce Emuang.That precocious child has now blossomed into a professional crooner, shuttling between two hotels here daily to make a living.
“Even as a teenager, I knew that the music business was insecure
and I had no illusions about it."
She changed her mind when her musician father, James asked her to replace him for a three-month hotel gig in Pulau Pangkor. “The nine-to-five desk job I had then was not my scene. After all, I was only 19 and the offer came with free food and
lodging at an island resort - just for singing a few hours". “How
difficult could that be? When I went on stage, it just clicked and
I really enjoyed it,” she said.
This Penangite grew up surrounded by music and musicians. Her father, who manages and still performs at the popular
Country ‘N’ Western bar in Batu Ferringhi, used to practise with
his band mates at his Pulau Tikus home. Her mother, Emuang,
performs regularly at the Banker’s Club and private functions
At the lobby lounge of Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur, Clair
interprets jazz standards, evergreens and contemporary ballads,
backed by award-winning composer and pianist Ross Ariffin. They perform from 9.45pm to 12.30am, from Monday to Saturday.
“I don’t think this life is for everyone. We hear of stories of
musicians and singers who still get exploited. They are never
certain of their next pay cheques, and there are some agents,
proprietors and even bandleaders who abscond with the money,” she
said. Clair said the current crop of reality talent shows on TV tend
to promote wrong values with the notion of “packaging” the
artistes to succeed. “Teenage girls seeing these shows may think that looks, body
shape and being popular are more important than talent. You can’t
do plastic surgery on your talent,” she said. “The industry is not short of women who are willing to be
exploited in order to be able to perform. It’s sad, but true. I
only wish as a society we could get beyond that and focus on the
talent,” she said.
Although there have been offers, Clair feels she is not ready
to cut an album. “I think I still have a long way to go. As long as I know
myself and can continue to do what I love to do, that’s enough for
LOBBY LOUNGE, Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur, 138 Jalan Ampang, KL
03-2711 8866 ext 267).