Profile: Shabir Tabare Alam

Published on 13 September 2016

Music artist Shabir Tabare Alam is primed to break into the Kollywood film industry.

BY MELANIE LEE 

THIS IS WHAT SHABIR TABARE ALAM’S TO-DO LIST CURRENTLY LOOKS LIKE: work on fourth album Town Bus, which includes producing and performing in his own music videos; run two-year-old Shabir Music Academy at The Verge, and look into more scholarship opportunities for youths in the low-income bracket to study music; complete the soundtrack of Tamil movie Sagaa, a major project that will place Shabir (who serves as composer) in the major Kollywood (Tamil film) league.

 

“I don’t sleep much at night,” admits the 31-year-old multi-hyphenate. “But I feel this sense of urgency.”

 

It is this pressing drive that has led Shabir to make astute decisions about his music career since he won singing competition Vasantham Star in 2005. For starters, he spent half his prize money getting an audio engineering diploma from SAE Institute Singapore.

 

“Instead of paying someone each time I needed to record something, I thought I would learn how to do everything myself,” he says. Shabir now has his own studio in Singapore and a home studio in Chennai, India, where he, his wife and two daughters are currently based.

 

In fact, it was his indie style of music, with influences from rock and heavy metal, that caught the attention of Indian film-maker Murugesh, who offered Shabir a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to debut his music in Kollywood through the movie Sagaa.

 

“The Tamil music industry is located within the Tamil film industry. I composed seven songs for Sagaa; three were released as singles recently and received good reviews. Since then, there have been new offers to compose music for other Tamil films,” he says.

 

On home ground, Shabir is not only a familiar face on TV channel Vasantham as a performer, actor and music composer, he is also known for his 2012 National Day song ‘Singai Naadu’, which garnered attention from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and has become a popular piece performed by many Singaporean students.

 

“Everyone knows ‘Munnaeru Vaalibaa’, but it seemed to be the only Tamil National Day song that stuck with the public. I wanted to come up with this heartfelt, timeless song that calls on Singaporeans to take the initiative to create their home in a country they love,” he explains.

 

Shabir was clear he wanted this to be an independent undertaking and a personal contribution to the community. He worked with friends to find sponsors for the S$60,000 ‘Singai Naadu’ music video. “Usually, when I conceive an idea,” he says, “I push to get it done.”

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