Overcoming The Odds
Despite being visually impaired, the Caliph Buskers are not short on vision for the future of their music

The Caliph Buskers

Living with any form of disability can be hard. However we’ve seen throughout history many individuals who have overcome their disabilities and handicaps in a grand way in their respective fields. We’ve seen these inspirational stories in sports, business as well as the arts, and they’ve often left us feeling touched, encouraged and beaming with pride. We’ve cheered them on wholeheartedly.

In music, names such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli come to mind as well as our very own Alfred Ho. And now, Malaysia has a new group, which is beginning to put our country on the map on the global stage.

The Caliph Buskers made the country proud when they represented Malaysia at the recent True Colours Festival in Singapore. A celebration of all the senses, the festival, held from 22-25 March 2018, stands as one of the first and only festival of artistes with disabilities in the region. And these independent musicians were in the Garden City to share the stage with some of the biggest names in music, dance and arts, proudly waving the Jalur Gemilang and displaying that Malaysia Boleh spirit for the world to see.

“It’s a very proud moment for Azmi, Zaki, Fendi, Nirwan and Nadira,” said Syed Ezaham, manager of Caliph Buskers. “Being invited to perform at the True Colours Festival and represent Malaysia is not only an incredible honour but an invaluable opportunity for the group to showcase their talent and music.”

After years in the local busking scene, the Caliph Buskers got their big break in 2015 when they were invited to perform ‘Romancinta’ in the Anugerah Juara Lagu ke-29 (AJL29). But it took a while for the group to truly come together.

“We got to know one another through various music and singing competitions held at the Malaysia Association for the Blind,” explains Caliph Buskers. “From there, we gathered and apprised new friends who are also musically talented. Thereafter we decided to form a group to busk together and the name ‘Caliph Buskers’ was chosen as our group name.”

From Left: Fendi, Azmi, Nadira, Zaki and Nirwan

Proving their disability was not a hindrance in any way, the independent musicians’ drive for their art only fuelled their desire to achieve success. Following their scene stealing performance at ALJ29, which catapulted them into the limelight of the Malaysian music scene; Azmi, Zaki, Fendi, Nirwan and Nadira have built on that opportunity by showcasing their brand of music in a number of events and shows. 

To date the group has also laid claim to a couple of iTunes favourite choices for ‘Romancita Akustik’ and ‘Hanya NamaMu’ and collaborated with local artists such as Faizal Tahir. Their latest performance at the True Colours Festival has solidified the group as one of the leading musical talents in the region.
The National Visual Arts Gallery

Making Malaysia proud at True Colours Festival, Photo © True Colours Festival

Caliph Buskers performing at the outdoor concert in OCBC Square Singapore, Photo © True Colours Festival

We were both delighted and anxious when we got the invitation to perform at the True Colours Festival,” they enthused. “Anxious because we knew we were collaborating with exceptional artistes from the Asia Pacific region and we also knew that there will be many VVIPs attending the concert.” 

Caliph Buskers was the sole representative of the nation at the festival and it was certainly an amazing achievement as the line-up of artistes were carefully appraised and selected based on their respective celebrated achievements by the festival organizers. 

But the group delivered tenfold with their performance at the festival’s opening day concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which was attended by President of Singapore, Mdm Halimah Yaacob. They also performed several songs and entertained their fans at the Outdoor Concert at OCBC Square on the final day of the event. 

 “We aimed to give our best performance and leave a deep impression in the hearts of the audience,” expressed the group following the conclusion of the festival. “We also hope that our fans continue to support to us as well as the other artistes who performed at True Colours.”

Caliph Buskers was Malaysia’s sole representative at True Colours Festival, Photo True Colours Festival

Following their performance and with the final curtain drawing at the festival, the Caliph Buskers are now focusing on continuing to expand their fan base as well as music. “We’re looking to collaborate with more artistes in the hopes it will enable us to present differences in our creations,” they explained. 

 “These kinds of opportunities along with the continuous support from fans and sponsors drive our deep passion for music, which helps inspire us as artistes.” And from what we’ve seen so far, the sky is indeed the limit for this talented and hardworking musical group.

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