The Queen of Keroncong

Two people died as the crowd pushed and shoved to watch Waljinah sing. She has never forgotten the tragedy that took place during the 1968 promotional tour for her album ‘Walang Kekek’ (Singing Grasshopper). On another occasion she had to jump through a window at the back of the stage, so she could change her blouse because it had been torn when the audience grabbed her. The twenty-one year old ‘Singing Grasshopper’ was so popular that enormous crowds gathered whenever she performed.

Waljinah has an exceptional and unique vocal talent, a golden voice that has earned her countless awards and the title ‘Keroncong Queen’.

Born in 1945, her talent and passion for music were apparent from a very young age: she sang Javanese verses with her mother, practised songs with her older brother, and learned traditional Javanese songs from the women at the batik factory where her father worked. They used to sing while they put wax designs on fabric and Waljinah found she could easily remember the tunes and soon joined in.

She was chosen to represent her primary school in singing contests and at only twelve years old won the prestigious title ‘Ratu Kembang Kacang’ (Queen of the Peanut Blossom). When recording contracts and invitations to perform flooded in, her parents made the decision to withdraw their daughter from school to pursue a musical career. Waljinah recorded thousands of songs and won many awards including a national radio competition in 1965, after which she was invited to sing at the Presidential Palace.

Waljinah married twice. Her first husband and father of their five children, died in 1985. Both husbands strongly supported her roles as mother and professional singer.

Always immaculately groomed, Waljinah usually performs wearing lace blouse and batik skirt, with her glossy black hair pulled tightly into a bun and makeup accentuating her classic beauty. She attributes her health and longevity to jamu (herbal medicine); drinks ginger or plain tea to preserve her voice; rests and meditates daily; and finds great comfort and strength in her spirituality. She advises others to avoid stress and to live life gracefully.

These days this Living Legend enjoys a more relaxed lifestyle and, despite health problems, still performs, appears in public to promote keroncong and supports the aspiring students at her singing school. She says she has all that she could ask for and has enjoyed a wonderful career.
© keronconginsolo 2014

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