This year is a special one for Ahmad Dhani, one of the best-known faces in Indonesia’s entertainment industry, as he celebrates a double anniversary: his 40th birthday last month and 20 years in the music business.
To commemorate those two events, music promoter BlackRock Entertainment has organized a special concert titled “Ahmad Dhani and Indonesian All Stars.” The show will feature not only Dhani himself but many other Indonesian musicians he has worked with over the last two decades and who will pay tribute to the career of the singer, songwriter and producer on June 13.
Born in Surabaya, Dhani formed a band with a few friends while he was still in high school. After a couple of lineup and genre changes, Dewa 19, often referred to simply as Dewa, was born. It was this rock band that would bring him national fame.
Although originally from East Java, Dewa made the move to Jakarta, believing the band had a better chance of furthering its career in the capital. Success didn’t come easy: The band was reportedly rejected by many labels before eventually landing a deal with Team Records.
Dewa 19’s self-titled debut album was released in 1992 and brought the band instant recognition. Overnight, Dewa went from a virtual unknown to Indonesia’s new shooting stars.
Dhani was widely regarded as the mastermind behind Dewa, penning many of the band’s greatest hits that offered a unique sound and, most of all, meaningful and poetic lyrics. In combination with Ari Lasso’s distinctive vocals, the bass and guitar skills of Erwin Prasetya and Andra Ramadhan, respectively, and Wawan Juniarso’s relentless drumming, Dhani and Dewa were on the road to success and would remain among Indonesia’s most popular bands for years.
But Dewa wasn’t free from trouble. Over the years, there have been several changes to its lineup for various reasons, including drug addiction.
When Ari Lasso was “fired” in 1999, few were convinced that Elfonda “Once” Mekel would be able to fill his shoes. He exceeded expectations, and his arrival marked a new era for Dewa, which maintained its place among the country’s most popular acts.
But by 2011, Dhani announced that Dewa had officially disbanded. Considering the five-year absence of new material from the band, the news didn’t come as much of a surprise.
In the meantime, Dhani had already successfully launched several other projects; most importantly, the establishment of Republik Cinta Management in 2007, an agency that has discovered and nurtured up-and-coming musical talents such as Mulan Jameela, and the duos Mahadewi and The Virgin. Dhani is also a judge on the TV show “Indonesian Idol.”
While Dhani is often labeled as arrogant, he has been an undeniable force in Indonesia’s music industry to date.
Ahmad Dhani and Indonesian All Stars
Wednesday, June 13, from 8 p.m.
Plenary Hall, Jakarta Convention CenterJl. Gatot Subroto