Annie Landouw

The name Annie Landouw (Landauw) is not as well- known as that of Waljinah, yet this remarkable woman was perhaps the first famous keroncong singer to come from Solo

Annie                                       1939 promotional still (source Wikipedia)

‘Miss Annie Landouw’ was born in Surakarta in 1913 to the family of Imam Redjo. Following an extended childhood illness she lost her sight and shortly afterwards was adopted by her aunt and Dutch uncle, Anton Ferdinand Roland (AFR) Landouw. AFR enjoyed keroncong and often entered singing competitions. It was he who introduced young Annie to keroncong.

In 1927 Landouw entered and won her first competition, the Fandel Concours Keroncong in Surakarta. The fourteen year old was then approached and signed up by recording company BEKA, after which she moved to Batavia.

She quickly became a popular performer. By 1938 she was singing keroncong with the radio troupe at NIROM (Dutch East Indies Radio Broadcasting Corporation) in Bandung and the following year she joined Krontjong Lief Java, one of the first keroncong groups in the colony. This group of local musicians practised in Kampung Kepuh, Kemayoran, Batavia.

During this period Landouw also provided the vocals for and appeared in several films, and had recording contracts with Decca and Columbia. In the album Keronchong Pearls, recorded by Columbia, Landouw sings Air Laut, Stambul O Tuhan, Fatimah, Keroncong Spesial, Kr. Moritsko and Stambul Masuk Keluar Kampung. The singer composed Stambul O Tuhan and Keroncong Spesial.

Landouw’s became immensely popular: in 1940 her fans organised a fundraising campaign to help pay for eye surgery. She refused to accept the money.

She married twice, had five children and fourteen grandchildren and lived with her second husband in Kampung Kepuh Kemayoran until his death in 1981. She was then cared for by one of her daughters until her death on 17 August 1982.



Lgm ‘Jauh Sudah’

Vocalist Siti Saras Wulan and Radio Orkes Surakarta (ROS), from the music department of RRI Surakarta, perform the romantic Jauh Sudah at Taman Budaya Surakarta.
It was originally uploaded on May 22 2011 and I think the late Mulyadi is the flute player.

Click on the link to my Indonesian blog to follow the lyrics.

Jauh Sudah – Wulan – Langgam version – YouTube.


Latihan at Waljinah’s

It’s Friday night, time for the latihan (practice, rehearsal) in the converted garage at Waljinah’s house. Chairs line the walls and the front of the garage, whilst down the back seven keroncong musicians prop on stools and tune their instruments. Out in the narrow street, food and drink sellers have set up benches and tables and a small crowd of neighbours sits on mats or stands around chatting, eating, drinking and smoking.

The Keroncong Queen has fulfilled her dream of establishing a singing school for the next generation of vocalists, especially females. She teaches many styles of singing and says the keroncong technique is difficult to master. Even those with musical and vocal training find it hard to produce the correct tone or to convey the emotions of the lyrics. They need to perform in public, to communicate with an audience, she adds.
The latihan provides this opportunity in a relaxed and supportive environment. There is no criticism or judgement, no sense of comparison or competition, and vocalists take part because they want to.  In fact many singers perform several nights a week on the circuit of keroncong latihan. If numbers are low, the atmosphere will be informal, a night of fun and laughter as the microphone is passed around for impromptu singing. If an important performance is approaching, singers will be practising inside the house as well as in the garage. On special occasions, such as Waljinah’s birthday, guests might be invited inside to eat and drink.

Because of her busy schedule Waljinah can’t teach very often, so she leaves the running of the school to her husband, son and other experts. She attends when she can – to the delight of her students.

It is six o’clock and eager young singers, aged from seven to fifteen, arrive with supportive parents. They hand their music to the teacher who checks the starting note then does a quick run through on his keyboard. Waljinah adjusts the microphone and gently encourages a tiny girl to sing. She begins nervously and then warms with the supportive claps of the audience. A young boy is next. His voice is strong and he moves confidently to the keroncong pop rhythm.

After three hours the young ones leave and the adults arrive. For a while there is chaos as motor bike, becak and car drivers negotiate a path through the crowd to drop off their passengers. There’s also a buzz in the air as friends in this close-knit community greet each other. Inside the garage the older students discuss their songs over glasses of tea and platters of fried snacks. When the first notes are played, a vocalist takes the microphone and the crowd quietens. People come and go all night as the sounds of this lyrical and comforting music fill the neighbourhood. There’s no rush. When the repertoire of songs has been played the vendors pack up and the keroncongers quietly and happily go home!

young singer at latihan in Waljinah's garage

latihan in the garage

© keronconginsolo 2014

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