WOMAD

Inul Daratista

Photo Of Inul Daratista

From Indonesia

A young woman has stirred Indonesia with an inspiring rags-to-riches story that is giving vicarious satisfaction to the masses of ordinary citizens who continue to struggle with poverty. Inul Daratista has taken dangdut, a unique cross-cultural blend of music once denigrated as the sound of the lower classes, to centre stage. By singing songs primarily identified with the “little people", Inul has captured Indonesia's imagination, making her an instant icon. Along with Inul's rise in popularity, however, has come a national controversy over her sizzling dance - a sometimes dynamic, sometimes slow and sensual movement of her hips, which Indonesians call “drilling”. Such hip movements may be normal for singers in many countries. But in Indonesia, which has more Muslims than any other nation, it is creating a furore. Inul has forced Indonesians to confront the increasingly sharp struggle in their society between conservative, closed and fundamentalist forces and those that are open, liberal and progressive in their quest to advance democratic principles and practice.Inul Daratista has achieved the level of success where a second name becomes unnecessary. Inul is what her legions of fans scream; it's what the chat show hosts gossip about; even those who denounce her call her just Inul. To all intents and purposes there is only one Inul, and you'd be hard-pushed to find an Indonesian who does not have an opinion on her. The reason? Her dancing. Inul may be a fine singer, but the controversy is all about the way she wiggles her hips. The local media have christened it “ngebor" – “drilling”. Inul came to prominence singing 'dangdut' which is popular in rural Indonesia. In her skin-tight, sequinned costumes, a blur of movement, Inul has brought dangdut to a whole new audience. Sexually suggestive dancing has long been part of the dangdut tradition, but it's rarely made the transition from the small towns of rural Java to the big stage. Now Inul's shown how it can be done, music industry professionals must be wondering why they didn't think of it earlier. Pirated VCD recordings of Inul's concerts sell in their millions; her TV show pulls in more viewers than any of its rivals. She is, without doubt, Indonesia's hottest star. The very qualities that have won Inul fervent admirers right across Indonesia have gotten her into trouble with more conservative elements of society. Born Ainul Rokhimah, Inul was just another kid in East Java dreaming of escaping the grind of poverty through music. She traded her ambitions as a rock star for dangdut, Indonesia's popular folk music that mixes Indian, Middle Eastern, Malay and Portuguese rhythms with other influences ranging from jazz to Led Zeppelin. Like country music in the United States, dangdut has shaken off its low-class roots and gained mainstream appeal. Saving her pennies from singing for Rp3, 500 rupiah, she made her way to Jakarta, picking up a new name, Inul Daratista. More important, she picked up her trademark “ngebor” hip gyrations. Pirated video compact discs (VCDs) brought Inul nationwide exposure that has made her Indonesia's top-earning entertainer, commanding up toRp20 million (more than US$423,000) per song. In addition to backing from the general public, more than 90 human rights and civil liberties groups declared their support for Inul's freedom of expression. So did President Megawati Sukarnoputri's husband and brother, along with former president Abdurrahman Wahid, who is also a former leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the nation's largest Islamic organization. (Some wags noted that Wahid wouldn't see anything wrong with Inul's swaying since he's virtually blind.) Many readers will be able to judge for themselves when Inul's international tour swings throughout Asia, Australia, the Netherlands and the US. Inul has in the past couple of years managed to collect a long list of awards and recognitions – AMI Awards, Best Dandgut Album & Best Solo Female Artist; SCTV Music Awards 2003, Best Dangdut Singer and Best Actress. In SCTV 2004 Music Awards, it was the Best Dangdut Album. Inul is also the only Indonesian artists that has the honour of having her dress hung in the Hard Rock Café – Jakarta. With all her fame and fortune, Inul makes time for charities and is very concerned about wildlife conservation. She tries to encourage people to love animals and contribute to the animal conservation programme. For her efforts, Taman Safari Indonesia named a baby elephant, which was born on the 20th of June 2003 after her. Thanks to Inul, the traditional art form of Dangdut is back and has grown from rural entertainment to mainstream appreciation.For more information see www.goyanginul.com

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