Building a legendary lineup for Mentor Legend

By Jude Toyat

MENTOR, TV3’s SINGING COMPETITION television programme is now entering its seventh season with more thrills and excitement as six artists and entertainers from previous seasons Zainal Abidin, Amy Search, Mas Idayu, Ajai, Dayang Nurfaizah, and Ella will be joining this season’s lineup of mentors in ‘Mentor Legend’.

“The thing that makes this season different from the rest is we are putting in mentors of winners and runner ups from previous seasons who will then compete with each other, giving more intense competition this time,” said local composer Azhar Abu Bakar, better known as Azmeer, when interviewed on Mentor’s first day of auditions in Kuching recently.

“This is a real challenge, as it will no longer be a Mentor benchmark, but the legends’ benchmark. From here, we hope to get the good ones to represent ‘Mentor Legend’ in the music industry,” he added.

When asked about what he was looking for in potential contestants, Azmeer said: “We are looking for their originality. They do not have to sing like other established singers; yet have to sing as well as them, stressing more on their originality and creativity.”

He is overseeing the auditions together with Faizal Uzir (Lok U) and Sufian Isa.

Azmeer noted that there were less participants compared to previous years.

“They have somehow decreased in number but increased in the quality of their voices. This may be due to those who came previously have realised that if they cannot sing well, they may as well not come,” he commented adding that the population demographic who are interested in music is also one of the factors affecting the turnout.

“Now, it is not like before, CD sales have dropped tremendously due to the decreasing interest in music. But then again, it is not the quantity that matters, it is the quality,” he added, explaining that different hobbies and alternative sources of entertainment may have also contributed to lack of interest in the music industry among the teenage demographic.

The trend of listening and downloading music from the Internet has also factored into the drop in CD sales, he lamented.

When asked about what differentiated a good singer from someone with a good voice, Azmeer answered, “For me, their tones and the honesty in singing. It is important to show how sincere you are when singing. It is not just a matter of memorising lyrics and sing, a singer needs to tell a story. Singing is like storytelling. You cannot be a good singer if you only utter words that even you don’t understand.

“Apart from that, a singer has to put a message across. Let your listeners know what you are telling, it is not just trying to show how good or great you are at singing, it is how convincing you are telling the story in its melodic, artistic and aesthetic aspects. The primary thing here is the message that the songwriters and lyricist want to put across and of course, with good original tone, not carbon copy, someone can then be considered a real singer,” he said.

So far the team behind Mentor has discovered 9 out of about 500 hopefuls from the Kota Kinabalu leg of the auditions held from Sept 5-7. They will proceed to the next stage in Kuala Lumpur, where they will be judged once again by the mentors of their choice and compete with others for the desired spot.

“From Mentor Legend, we hope to get good holistic entertainers who can perform and entertain not just by showing how great they are, as we want quality singers and someone who can last in the music industry for years to come. We are looking for an artist who knows the real meaning of art and not just simply sing.”

As for the first day of auditions here in Kuching on September 12, three contestants – Shahril Rizal, Norni Umar Baki, and Nurul Farahana Mohd Kipli – have made the selection to advance to the Kuala Lumpur stage.


Shahril Rizal

Shahril Rizal


The first contestant to receive a congratulatory “Tahniah!” from the judges was 19-year-old Shahril Rizal from Kuching.

“Honestly, I was so nervous since everything happened spontaneously,” he said.
Shahril, who initially came just to accompany his friend, did not expect to be chosen to advance to the next stage in Kuala Lumpur instead.

“This is my first time auditioning for Mentor and I am very proud that I have been given this golden opportunity. I have also auditioned for Akademi Fantasia but only managed to get to the second level and the journey ended there,” he added.

He successfully charmed the judges with his powerful voice as he sang ‘Romancinta’, a hit from Indonesian band Modjo, a song from Visa ‘Gerimis’ as well as being tested with several other songs of various genres by the judges.

“I chose Mas Idayu as my potential mentor since she does love high-pitched vocals, which I believe are my greatest strength in singing. This chance is only given once and I will not waste it,” he added.

Shahril, whose idol is Awie, dreams of being a singer, as well as entering into other fields in the entertainment industry as he believes from quality reality television programmes such as Mentor, the prospects are endless.


Norni Umar Baki

Norni Umar Baki


The second entrant who got the chance to advance was Norni Umar Baki, 22, from Kota Samarahan.

Confidently she said, “The judges were really impressed with the originality of my voice, especially with the high notes.

“The only thing that they requested from me was to lose some weight and stay fit before flying to Kuala Lumpur next Friday. Currently I am 60kg,” she said of the judges’ challenge for her.

Norni thanking Azmeer for the golden opportunity given to her during the first day of the Mentor Legend audition in Kuching.

Norni thanking Azmeer for the golden opportunity given to her during the first day of the Mentor Legend audition in Kuching.

Norni who sang an acapella version of Kris Dayanti’s ‘Menghitung Hari’, Beyonce’s ‘Listen’, and a minus one of Aishah’s ‘Janji Manismu’ for the audition said she had also performed in several singing competitions around Kuching.

She added, “I chose Dayang Nurfaizah as my potential mentor because I hope to learn proper vocal techniques from her. Plus, I also love her style, and she’s Sarawakian, making it easier for me to communicate and be comfortable with her.”

Norni hopes to turn her dream of becoming an entertainer a reality.


Nurul Farahana Mohd Kipli

Nurul Farahana Mohd Kipli


As for 19-year-old Nurul Farahana Mohd Kipli whose chosen mentor is Dayang Nurfaizah, the opportunity for this successful entrant will enable her to expand and test her singing boundaries.

“I have never sung anywhere else besides my village and school since I am not confident to do so. Today, I have decided to take a chance for the audition, and I am really be proud of this since it will offer me opportunities to perform in other places too,” she said.

She sang an acapella version of Jaclyn Victor’s famous hit ‘Bertamu Di Kalbu’, a song from local singer Azie ‘Kau Tetap Dalam Anganku’ and Siti Nurhaliza’s ‘Bisakah’, grabbing the judges’ attention with her serene voice.

All three of the selected contestants will be go on to another audition, before their chosen mentors where priority will be given to the mentors to choose their own protégé, next Friday (September 19).

Even though day one of the auditions found three contestants, several contestants like Hardil Haron, 18, were asked to come back on Sunday for another session.


Hardil Haron

Hardil Haron


“The judges gave me two days to prepare and when I come back on Sunday I will bring a more powerful performance for them. This is my second chance so I will not throw it away.

Hardil who usually sings at school and has never attended an audition before, said if he advanced to the next round, he hoped to learn singing techniques from any mentor, preferably Ajai, who he regards as one of Malaysia’s musical geniuses who not only sings his own songs but composes for other singers too.

Hardil giving his best for a spot in Mentor Legend.

Hardil giving his best for a spot in Mentor Legend.

“I never learned vocals before, so I wish to join Mentor and learn more about proper vocal techniques, especially in managing my pitching,” he added.

For more information on Mentor Legend, log on to, official Twitter account via @TV3Malaysia or Facebook page at TV3MALAYSIA.

 (from left) Primework Studios entertainment manager Muhamad Sufian Isa, Faizal Uzir, Marketing Manager of Merdeka Palace Hotel Irene Law, and Azmeer.

(from left) Primework Studios entertainment manager Muhamad Sufian Isa, Faizal Uzir, Marketing Manager of Merdeka Palace Hotel Irene Law, and Azmeer.

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