Fri, 18 Jul 2003

Tasya is also a good storyteller

Joko EH Anwar, Contributor, The Jakarta Post

Child singer Tasya is only 10 years old but she deals with journalists better than most so-called adult celebrities. And she is probably smarter than a lot of them as well.

At a recent media conference for the release of her third album, some journalists impressed by her wit could not help but think that somebody was putting words into her mouth.

But when Tasya kept her calm and continued to give original, entertaining answers to difficult questions, they knew that Tasya was speaking for herself.

Tasya's third album is Tasya dalam Dongeng Istana Pizza (Tasya in the story of the pizza palace), a song-and-story album in which she tells a fairy tale about a princess named Anapizza who is banished to the forest by an evil sorceress.

After clearing her throat, Tasya begins speaking to the journalists, telling them that she was very happy to be able to work on the project.

"Listening to fairy tales stimulates your creativity," Tasya said. "And also because I like telling stories."

She went on to tell her interviewers how she sometimes drew comics and sold them to her classmates.

"One of the characters in my comics is named Kamila, which is also my name. She can turn on and turn off television with the blink of an eye," said the little girl, whose given name is Shafa Tasya Kamila.

"What's the title of my comics? I don't really give them titles. I just make them. And they are short, too."

Tasya is an oasis in the children's music scene. While most child singers resemble the female doll from the movie Bride of Chucky, Tasya has all of the innocent qualities of childhood.

And unlike many child singers whose voices are so bad that even advanced recording technology cannot camouflage their lack of talent, Tasya really can sing.

Local songwriter A.T. Mahmud, who has written many near- classic children's songs, expressed his admiration for Tasya.

"She is the most talented one. Her pronunciation is perfect. I am very happy to have my songs sung by Tasya," Mahmud said.

Tasya sang a number of Mahmud's old songs on her second album, Gembira Berkumpul (Happy Together). Mahmud also contributed three new songs to Tasya dalam Dongeng Istana Pizza.

The well-produced album shows a serious effort on the part of its producers -- which is also a rarity with children's music here. Tasya's songs are accompanied by a well-arranged orchestra and adult backing vocals.

The results are enjoyable. Tasya sounds like she is having fun telling the simple story of good versus evil. According to the album's producer, she also improvised some while telling the story.

In countries that produce many great children's movies, the concept of a song-and-story recording might not sell.

However, since this country has yet to give birth to talented filmmakers with the wit to make a good children's movie, the song-and-story album might fill in as an adequate substitute.

Tasya first grabbed the public's attention in a series of TV commercials for Pepsodent toothpaste when she was only six. She played a little girl who had a sibling rivalry with her older brother.

The amusing commercials easily outshone most of the local TV series. The success of the commercials owed a great deal to Tasya's acting talent, besides good writing and directing.

Learning that the little girl also was a gifted singer, Sony Music produced Tasya's first album, Libur Telah Tiba! (Holiday is Here!), in 2000. The album was a great success.

Tasya is today the most successful child singer in the country, replacing Sherina, who has graduated to the ranks of teenage singers.

Her popularity inevitably led to numerous invitations to appear in TV series.

Tasya's mother, Isverina Andriani, says she never pushed her daughter to sing or act, unlike the parents of many child singers.

"I often tell her not to work too hard. I want her to do it as long as she is having fun," Isverina said.

Indeed, Tasya enjoys singing and acting, like she enjoys playing with her pet rabbits.

"Yesterday, two of my rabbits got married, but we haven't had a reception for that.

"I love rabbits. When I grow up, I want to be an architect. But I also want to have a rabbit farm," she said.

Isverina, who accompanied Tasya during the interview with The Jakarta Post, would only shrug her shoulders when I looked at her every time Tasya gave an answer that seemed entirely too clever.

"You know, she even outsmarts me sometimes," Isverina said.

Tasya often teased her mother about eating too much after vowing to go on a diet.

"I think it's OK for me and my mother to eat a lot. As for me, I'm still growing," Tasya said giggling.