KUALA LUMPUR — In celebration of United States’ Independence Day on July 4, its embassy in Malaysia has a four-minute music video clip featuring musicians from both countries.
They have put together a video of their performance of the iconic song Standing in the Eyes of the World that was originally sung by Malaysia’s popular rock singer, Ella.
Featuring Ella, the English-Bahasa Melayu song was composed by Datuk Wah Idris, who is a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, award-winning songwriter Habsah Hassan, and American singer-songwriter David Gates, who was the frontman for the chart-topping group Bread.
The song was first recorded as the anthem to commemorate Malaysia’s hosting of the 1998 Commonwealth Game and was also frequently used by Pakatan Harapan during its 2018 general election campaigning period.
In a statement, US ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir said the idea behind the music video was to celebrate the relationship between the US and Malaysia as many people still can’t gather due to the pandemic.
“While Americans and Malaysians can’t gather in person to celebrate our relationship this year, we can find other means to highlight our long history of partnership and cooperation.
“Today, more than ever, music is a universal language that transcends borders and brings people together, and in that spirit, the Embassy is proud to release a new recording of the Malaysian classic Standing in the Eyes of the World,” she added.
The video, which was published on YouTube earlier yesterday, features several alumni of American Music Abroad programmes — I US Government-sponsored exchanges that send dozens of American musicians around the world each year.
The project also involves a percussionist from the US Air Force’s Band of the Pacific.
Muhardiman Ismail, a Malaysian flutist known as Mohar, kicks off the song playing a traditional Malaysian flute.
Throughout the song, both Malaysian singers share a strong affinity with the United States.
Ella made history when she recorded 1994’s multi-platinum album Ella USA in Los Angeles.
The 53-year-old Penang-born musician has now recorded tracks with two Guns N Roses guitarists, having performed with Slash on the 1998 hit Bayangan.
Sarawak native Zee Avi was signed by Los Angeles-based Brushfire Records and with the 2011 release of Ghostbird, she became the first Malaysian singer to have albums on the US Billboard Hot 200 Albums chart and top Billboard chart.
The Embassy also worked closely with Malaysian songwriter/producer Helen Yap, a Berklee alumna who arranged the song and coordinated singers across two countries and four time zones.
Nick Lee — I also a Berklee graduate — I not only mixed and mastered the song, he also designed Calvary studios, where the Malaysian portions of the song were recorded.
On the American side, the video features former Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, guitarist Tony Memmel, jazz vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli, a capella group ReVoiced and all-female country group Farewell Angelina.
A percussionist from the US Air Force’s Band of the Pacific is also featured.