At the age of 90, veteran Malay artist Momo Latiff is quite possibly Singapore’s oldest stage performer.
One of the surviving veterans from the golden age of Malay cinema in the 1950s and 1960s, the singer-actress will be performing tonight at the Asian Civilisations Museum in a concert that is part of Bulan Bahasa, an annual event to promote the Malay language.
“I will sing the songs that people know me for,” she says in Malay in an interview with Life! at her flat in Woodlands.
She will be backed by musicians from Era Traditional Music Ensemble and adds that her repertoire will include the dondang sayang or love ballads from back in the day, including songs such as Merpati Dua Sejoli (Pigeons Of A Feather), a duet she did with late Malay entertainment icon P. Ramlee, as well as Tari Selendang (Shawl Dance) and Si Jali-Jali (Jali-Jali is a type of grain-bearing plant).
Other Malay artists set to perform at the concert include folk singer and songwriter Art Fazil, comedian Arif Samsudin, indie singer Siti Zahidah and rapper Dan Loco.
Momo, who walks around with a cane, does a few shows every year here and in Malaysia. “As long as my health is fine, I will not turn down invitations to sing.”
Her last public performance was at a Mother’s Day show at the Esplanade Concert Hall in May, which featured Momo; her daughter Kamaliah Latiff, a singer popular in the 1970s; and her grandson Hassan Muhammad, bass player and singer from home-grown reggae act Bushmen.
In January, she performed at Kuala Lumpur’s theatre Istana Budaya. According to Kamaliah, Momo has many fans across the Causeway who are VIPs, including former minister of information, communications and culture Rais Yatim, who regularly engages her to sing at events that feature veteran Malay artists.
For fans of classic Malay films, Momo is best known for her comedic role as the wife of a martial arts master in the 1959 film Pendekar Bujang Lapok (Three Bachelor Warriors), which stars P. Ramlee, the late S. Shamsudin and Aziz Sattar.
Other movies she acted in include her first film, Topeng Syaitan (1939), Buluh Perindu (1953) and Si Tanggang (1961).