March 13, 2015
Reza Artamevia: The Return of Indonesia's Queen of R&B

After her much-publicized emotional breakdown following her failed marriage, Reza Artamevia left the limelight seeking spiritual refuge. But last week, the chanteuse came back with a bang during the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta.

by Amahl S. Azwar
Culture
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If Britney Spears made it through 2007 and Mariah Carey rose from the cardinal flop that is "Glitter", any pop star could survive any self-inflicted ignominy. The same thing applies to our very own Reza Artamevia, Indonesia’s Queen of Pop/R&B, who recently made a “comeback” at the 2015 Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta.
 
Celebrated for her sultry yet powerful voice, Reza came to prominence in 1997 with single “Pertama” (First) followed by her debut album Keajaiban (Miracle) and other hits such as “Aku Wanita” (I’m a Woman) and “Satu Yang Tak Bisa Lepas” (The One I Can’t Let Go).
 
Sadly, the songstress suffered physical and emotional breakdown after her much-publicized failed marriage with the late celebrity-turned-legislator Adjie Massaid in 2004, and the once sexy and energetic chanteuse withdrew from public shortly afterwards.
 
What makes me furious is that we live in a society where female singers  and artistes would be judged by her looks or behavior first and talent second. Screw her talent, as long as she has a good manner, not scandalous, doesn’t wear indecent clothes, and not overweight.
 
For example, at least two friends of mine told me in different occasions that Christina Aguilera should’ve lost some weight so that “the Genie could fit into her bottle” and I was like, “Girl, Aguilera has 4-octave vocal range and all you care about is her weight? Puh-lease!”
 




In Indonesia, Reza fell victim to this bias. While other “divas” such as Krisdayanti, Ruth Sahanaya, and Titi DJ continued to enjoy success (forming the trio “3 Divas”), Reza, who is just as talented if not more, was haunted by her past instead.
 
In order to protect her public image after her scandalous marriage, Reza “became more religious” and decided to wear headscarf for three years (she removed it later, but she continued to dress “modestly” and “decently”). Oh, and let’s not forget to mention her music projects with that spiritual teacher of hers, Gatot Brajamusti (by any chance, do you know any of her hits with this guy? I don’t).
 
She even changed her name once into “Rezza Artamevira” to reinvent herself.
 
Unfortunately, Reza seemed to forget to preserve her best asset: her voice. I remember once watching her performance at a local TV station and I was terribly disappointed by her vocals. It was raspy and weak, and she sounded tired.
 
But that was years ago.
Photo Courtesy of Jazzuality.com
 
This year, when I first found out that she was one of the performers at the Java Jazz Festival, I was so excited. I had a feeling that Reza had finally found her voice back and was prepared to come back with a bang. I mean, this is one of the biggest jazz festivals in Asia so, naturally, she wouldn’t screw up this opportunity.
 
Boy am I glad I was right.
 
Donning a green-and-yellow dress, Reza opened her jam-packed show with her first single “Pertama” and I almost cried with joy: she’s back! She hit all the notes, the highs, the lows and those in between. Her signature voice (deep, husky, sultry, sexy, and elegant) that made her famous was there it’s like it was never gone.
 
Other songs followed such as “Aku Wanita”, “Satu Yang Tak Bisa Lepas”, “Aku Takut Jatuh Cinta Lagi” (I’m Afraid to Fall in Love Again), “Ketulusan” (Heartfelt), “Dia” (Tell Him) and “Biar Menjadi Kenangan” (Let it Be Memories), which was her duet with Japanese singer Masaki Ueda. For the festival, however she invited former Indonesian Idol contestant, Marteza Sumendra for a duet.
 
“I want to thank all of you who have spent time, money, and energy to come to this show. Thank you Java Jazz Festival for involving me in this event!” she said to the cheering crowd. “Honestly, I was nervous before the show but thanks to your love and kindness, I feel warm at heart.”
 
Then, she sang her signature hit “Berharap Tak Berpisah” (Please, Don’t Let Me Go), which was to be her last song for the night, as she invited her backing vocalists and band members to take a bow together after the song ended. Clearly, the crowd didn’t want her to go just yet and screamed for an encore. In response, the songstress decided to close her show with her hit “Keabadian” (Eternity).
 
All in all, I’m glad to see that our “lost” diva is now found and that she’s doing well. She did what she does best: singing.
 
Reza, please don't disappear on us again.
 
Amahl S. Azwar is an openly gay writer who currently divides his time between Bandung, Indonesia and Shanghai, China. Follow @mcmahel on Twitter and blog www.mcmahel.wordpress.com.