One Man’s Personal Quest And Vision Towards Attaining Musical Enlightenment
For some people, being a street musician is nothing more than a performer on the busy sidewalks begging for alms. For others, it is merely showing off one’s skills to the public in the hope of breaking into the big-time showbiz industry. But for street musician Alfred Ho, he is only thinking of his next meal and putting food on the table daily for his family. Busking is by no means an occupation filled with “glitz and glamour” – it is often hard work, as well as braving the hot sun and constant rain, day after day. Being a street busker demands a special kind grit or courage, as well as strength of character in facing up to the unending hurdles and challenges, often along busy roads and unforgiving streets of metropolitan KL. This is the story of one man’s dream and his quest for musical enlightenment.
Dubbed “Malaysia’s Stevie Wonder” during his heyday, Alfred Ho had been prematurely deprived of his eyesight or vision at a tender age of three, after a lengthy bout with measles. Hailing from the mining state of Perak, this loyal fan of the blues and 60’s rock ‘n’ roll has always possessed an unbridled passion for singing ever since he could hold a microphone as a child. During those days back then, karaoke was still in-trend, and Alfred had plenty of practice “behind the scenes”. As he grew older, he started experimenting with his favourite musical instrument, which is the guitar. Being naturally gifted with the guitar, he started playing and singing to mass crowds at numerous public events and functions, such as expos, fun-fairs, weddings, trade shows, community gatherings, as well as private jamming sessions with fellow colleagues. He also has an uncanny knack for mimicking or imitating other singers in his trademark deep baritone-styled voice – his vocal dynamics are as strong and impressive as ever. His various idols include the likes of Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Pat Boone, Engelbert Humperdink, and many other legends. He had a secret ambition to be a great artiste someday just like his idols. He always sang his heart out every time he performs, and pretty soon, his fan-base (i.e. legion of fans) grew too. Many of his loyal fans were truly amazed, thrilled and inspired by his majestic voice – it was strong and serene, yet soothing and comforting at the same time. Ultimately, the music industry took notice of his rare talent and gave him a recording contract. He briefly achieved national fame when he participated in RTM’s BakatTV inaugural “reality singing” competition back in 1971. The rest, as they would say is history. But alas, all good things must come to an end somehow, eventually. Alfred Ho was no different…
Today, Alfred Ho is a faint glimmer of hope and a pale shadow of his past glory. Perhaps age has caught up with his voice, taken a toll on his will and spirit, or that he had become disillusioned of trying to “make it big” in the local music industry. His daily struggle of trying to make ends meet is also not helping his life-long cause of reviving his distant dream and long-forgotten ambition. Nevertheless, there is one certainty which was absolute – his voice had changed little over the years since he started singing almost five decades ago. The premium quality of his vocals is absolutely stunning and incredible. Just as a good wine needs to be aged or mellowed to achieve perfection in taste, Alfred Ho had seemingly defied the odds by sticking to his guts and playing his heart out. He kept on believing in himself, that his day would arrive, and it will surely come. Being blind has never hampered or discouraged Alfred Ho – aka “the blind busker” from plying his trade on the dusty streets, in the heart & soul of Malaysia’s city centre. He continues to busk to this present day. If you are lucky enough, you may just catch him in action – tugged somewhere in a lonely corner with his trusty guitar and his angelic voice.
For more information on Alfred Ho and his music, please visit his personal blog at http://alfredhomusic.blogspot.my , or simply check out his YouTube videos at . Also featured below, is one of his many street performances in popular shopping malls and LRT stations. In particular, the following Facebook video link shows a ‘gung-ho’ Alfred performing a heart-warming rendition of the evergreen ballad “Butterfly” at the concourse area within RapidKL’s KLCC LRT Station at Avenue K, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.