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‘It’s about endurance’: Local musician Genervie Kam on her journey to becoming AJL music director

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Local musician Genervie Kam, 43, may be an unfamiliar name to younger generations but she is definitely no stranger to those in the Malaysian music industry.

Coming from a family of multi-generational musician powerhouses, Kam already earned herself internationally recognised diplomas in piano and violin at the young age of 14.

By 21, she did her first ever live performance as well as her first tour as violinist for Cantopop megastar Jacky Cheung for his 2002 Music Odyssey World Tour, performing in over 50 cities.

Kam went on to perform for both international and local names such as Croatian pianist Maksim, Indonesia’s Harvey Malaiholo as well as Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza, Ning Baizura and Jacklyn Victor.

Most recently, she was appointed the music director (MD) for Malaysia’s prestigious pop song competition, the 38th Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL38), taking over the helm from her predecessor and mentor of over 20 years, Datuk Ramli M.S.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Malay Mail spoke to Kam on her journey and how her experiences helped to shape her in the long run.

Kam’s childhood was filled with rigorous training in classical music, from jam packed schedules of daily musical classes to having to practise during school breaks even when she was at a relative's home.

“I almost never skipped school when I was young because school was my freedom at that time.

“I dreaded school holidays simply because it meant more practice. Every relative’s home has a piano and I had to bring along my violin because they wouldn’t let me spend time with my cousins until I’ve done my training for the day,” she said.

However, all of her efforts paid off especially when she was touring with Jacky Cheung where she had to juggle between her final semester in college and performing overseas.

This included finding the time to finish her assignments backstage in between soundchecks. All of her assignments at that time were hand-written as she didn’t have computers or software to help her.

The tour was pivotal for her career, opening up opportunities for Kam which eventually led to her being appointed the MD for AJL38.

“The kind of pressure or expectations has helped me to handle all the demands today. The classical music discipline has helped me to be able to survive all this.

“It’s about endurance, a lot of times it might not just be about the talent but also your character as a whole.

“You can be so talented but if you can’t handle the pressure, then there’s no point to it,” she said.

Despite the rigorous training and hard work she had to endure, she’s thankful for it as it has helped her in her journeys and shaped her.

Married to singer and actor Hazama since 2017, Kam’s top priority at the moment is her family.

Kam has performed for international and local big names such as Croatian pianist Maksim, Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza and Ning Baizura. — Picture by Arif Zikri
Kam has performed for international and local big names such as Croatian pianist Maksim, Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza and Ning Baizura. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Kam has performed for international and local big names such as Croatian pianist Maksim, Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza and Ning Baizura. — Picture by Arif Zikri

She said that it’s important for one to set their priorities and being at this age, she doesn’t want to neglect her family just to chase her dreams.

“I’ve tried the touring experience and I don’t want to do that anymore because it’s not healthy for a marriage, for me at least.

“Others might be able to handle it but for me personally, it’s not so healthy for my marriage. Marriage is hard work and it would be more difficult if there’s constant absence,” she said.

She added that marriage is a constant learning process and it has helped in shaping her to become a better person.

“It’s hard for me because in my professional life, I’m a leader and I’m the one giving instructions but he’s my leader when I’m at home and I have to balance it out.

“Balancing that leadership role and not bringing that into the household was something that took some time for me to realise and of course, we fought.

“But sometimes fights are good to resolve issues because it has to come out and that is the process of two becoming one,” she said.