Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Shila Amzah began singing when she was 10 and shot to fame in China when she was in her early 20s. "China will always hold a special place in my heart; it’s the country that helped to launch my career,” shares Shila who emerged victorious in Asian Wave in 2012 before becoming a finalist in the second season of I Am A Singer—which happens to be the same competition that British singer Jessie J took part in, albeit in a different season. “They accepted me for who I am, what I believed in, and didn’t care where I came from... they just wanted to listen to my music and supported me by giving me that boost which I needed,” she explains.
It was mainly because of this deep affinity and connection that Shila, who turns 30 in August, felt with China that we decided to photograph her, where else but, in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur. Utilising the scenic setting of Kwai Chai Hong (Little Ghost Lane), and thanks to the generous team behind Four Points by Sheraton KL, Chinatown, the backdrop was a nod to the country which made Shila a household name.
“The fact that I sing Mandarin songs also gave me the opportunity to travel around the world. Wherever there's Chinatown, there are my fans. I’m quite lucky in that sense,” shares Shila, when asked about her international appeal and reach. So far, the singer has toured and performed in Lincoln Centre, New York; The Venetian Theatre, Las Vegas; in Perth, and most recently Sydney, Australia, on top of covering over 50 provinces in China itself.
“Don’t get me wrong though, my fanbase doesn’t solely comprise Chinese people; there are tonnes of others who come to see me perform and enjoy my music,” Shila adds. This was proven when a group of Malay girls chanced upon our shoot, recognised her and began pointing and whispering among themselves excitedly. After all, prior to being recognised in China, she had already won numerous local accolades, and the fact that she can sing in 10 languages clearly shows she caters to a large segment of the international population.