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Dimash Kudaibergen: Promoting Humanity and Religious Values without Religious Attributes in the Showbiz World

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On an interview, a Kazakh young singer was asked about his recent international popularity. Answering the question, he said that every artist would eventually get off the stage. When his turn come, he wanted to be able to sit comfortably beside those who once had become his spectators, look directly into their eyes and talk to each other warmly because they recognize him as a good human being.

That young man’s name is Dimash Kudaibergen, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who always opens his concert by saying assalamualaikum. This name may sound unfamiliar for most Indonesians, but actually he has quite loyal fans here. One of them is the winner of Indonesian Idol 2019, Lyodra. She mentioned him on television as one of his idols.

Metro TV, an Indonesian national television station has just played his song “We Are One” while broadcasted a news about the launching of drones to eradicate Covid-19 simultaneously in different countries last April 29. He dedicates this song to doctors and other front-liners and also people all over the world are affected by Covid-19.

His birth name is Dinmukhamed Kanatuly Kudaibergen. He was born in Aktobe Kazakhstan on May 24th, 1994, from a famous Kazakh singer spouse, Kanat Aytbayev and Svetlana Aytbayeva. Born in a solid and harmonious musician family, Dimash found his passion for music and singing from an early age. He has trained since he was five years old, then studying classical music for more than 20 years. He gains two diploma degrees in classical and contemporary music. This year (2020), Dimash will graduate from his master program in music composition and plans to continue his study to doctoral level.

Even though he has not been widely known in Indonesia yet, but he has become an international phenomenon since 2017 when he was invited by Hunan TV as a wild card in a contest for professional singers in China, “I am a Singer”. His first appearance in the contest gained 600 million viewers in just few days. Apparently, Dimash begins to be exposed internationally since then, especially for younger audiences. His actual singing career at the international level itself had begun many years prior to the contest.

Since his appearance in China, Dimash has become one of favorite singers for music performance reactors on YouTube, especially those who work as vocal teachers. How comes? He has incredible vocal range, more than 6 octaves. Dimash is a perfect example to show vocal class students everything they need to sing.

Mike Goodrich, a senior vocal teacher on YouTube, tried to explain why Dimash is considered as a great singer. Unlike most singers who limited themselves by mastering two to three registers, Dimash masters at least four registers and can glide or change gears between them smoothly and flawlessly. In the era when many singers commonly uses auto-tune to cover their weakness, Dimash displays his range and pitch perfect nature while he is singing live. It shows that he is a prodigy.

In addition, he has extraordinary and rich style which he also uses geniously in matching the vocals according to the song’s requirements. This makes people realise that he has extremely unique interpretation ability. Dimash always manages to deliver songs into a whole different level. Be it his own song or cover song from different singers.

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Dimash also has exceptional stage presence. He lives everyday life with his family humbly. He is a humble, polite and shy young man, but on stage he turns into a very confident and charismatic figure. Dimash turns into a very dedicated type of performer. He never runs out of passion from the first to the last note of the song. It reflects on every little gesture of his body, hands, and eyes. People who see him in live performance often say that Dimash sings with his whole body. That’s what Goodrich called the economy of movement.

Off the stage, Dimash lifestyle is another source of attraction. In the showbiz world where many artists practice poisonous lifestyle, consuming drugs, alcohol, and addicted to nightlife, Dimash is praised for practicing healthy life. He does not smoke, nor he does drink alcohol or consume drugs, nor does he go clubbing.

His attitude makes people respect him tremendously. In the entertainment world where Western culture dominates the scene, many young artists compete each other to show who they are in an egocentric way. On the contrary, Dimash represents Kazakh culture where Islamic values have become part of it, where life is a process to realize the goodness.

On an interview, Dimash expressed his countless gratitude for his current achievements. He said everything happened because of Allah and, of course, his parents and teachers. He views his extraordinary talent as a responsibility to be improved continuously and to be utilized to touch others with beautiful artistry. He also once said that there are persons who live in prosperity and others who live in poverty. Both situations actually serve the same function that is an examination whether a person can be his/her best version as a human being.

Dimash once quoted his teacher, “No matter how successful you are as a singer, it won’t mean anything if you do not succeed in becoming a human.” This young man then humbly said that he was actually still struggling and sometimes had to fight with himself to make the message come true.

Listening to this part of interview recalls a memory of Gus Dur’s message about humanity. Gus Dur (Abdurrahman Wahid) is the Indonesian Fourth President and a humanist figure of Indonesian people. According to him, religiosity is about humanizing humans. In this perspective, the best humans in Allah’s eye are persons who are the best in humanizing others.

This message of humanity becomes more relevant in the time where majoritarianism has become pervasive everywhere. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, in various parts of the world, primordial sentiments have been strengthened and led to many forms of hate speech, violence, and even homicide, based on ethno-religious sentiment. The pandemic has gradually destroyed majoritarian artificial arrogance after Covid-19 affected almost all part of the world. No one can escape from it no matter who and where they are. At this point, it will be very valuable to remind all people around the world about the importance of humanity and borderless cooperative. Just as Dimash calls in his song, “We are One”.

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Dimash Kudaibergen is one of Muslim singers who has entered international market. Maher Zain and Raef Haggag have formerly stepped into international stage. Maher is a Lebanese Swedish singer and Raef is an American. Both are known as modern Muslim singers. Although the very segmented nature of their chosen genre, Maher and Raef are considered having globally achievements because they succeed to conquer the market of the countries with the largest Muslims population like Indonesia.

Different from Maher and Raef, Dimash does not engange in mainstream religious music. Dimash songs have “secular” vibe, just as many other singers. But his way to popularity is even more difficult because he chose a non-mainstream genre. He called it neoclassic or crossover

In this genre, Dimash incorporates classical and folk elements into contemporary music. There are only few people love this genre. This is why he may difficult to enter American and Indonesian market. Indonesian music has been patronized to American music. Despite that, Dimash first big solo concert in America on last December 2019 has succeeded to sell out the tickets and managed to gather almost 19,000 spectators in Barclay Center, New York.

Integrity and creative freedom form Dimash professionalism. On an interview, Dimash expressed his criticism toward politics and showbiz world. They have one thing in common, relying mostly on PR (public relation) rather than leadership (in politics) or music (in showbiz).

That is why Dimash does not like commercial side of music industry. In order to guarantee integrity and freedom in his creative work, Dimash hardly has a producer. His creative activity grows under the auspices of Dimash Ali Creative Center, his own label which is run by his family and friends. That way, Dimash is free to experiment and create his own music styles. He also free to choose what song to sing and to arrange the vocal composition. In terms of music arrangement, Dimash hands it over to his best friend, Erlan Bekchurin.

Dimash does not limit himself in music experimentation. He often breaks various conventional boundaries like one certain style for a certain song. In most cases, in one Dimash song we can find opera, pop, rock, jazz, or even metal head vibe. The song range is also unusual, mostly more than three octaves.

This strategy is actually risky. If it fails in crafting a song can be a chaotic mosaic where its parts do not seem to connect each other. But Dimash successfully crafting his miracles so that the song captivates listeners from various genre, either classic, pop, rock, jazz, metal head, etc. Dimash makes his listeners experiencing a kind of music roller coaster or musical theater. Various praises are then attributed to him, ranging from “alien”, “angel”, “superhuman”, “vocal beast”, “voice technician”, and many more.

Igor Krutoy, a well-known composer and music producer in Russia who has created a lot of songs for Dimash, said, Dimash has fans that can make world’s artists envy. Today, Dimash has very loyal fanbases in more than 120 countries. This loyal fans makes his first album reached the platinum level within 37 seconds and triple platinum within one hour. Dimash fans are willing to fly across the continent to watch Dimash sings in his concerts. The statistics of purchasing concert tickets reveal that the audiences are from more than 60 countries and the tickets are mostly sold out.

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Therefore, Igor said that Dimash is likely starting a new direction in the music industry. At a time when a song was considered to be a hit depending on how much it played on the radio and cafes, in the era of auto-tune and backtrack in music performance, Dimash makes people excited again about feeling the sensation of live performance.

Another unique thing about Dimash’s fan-base is that its demographics is very diverse, either in terms of culture, religion, country, age, or music genre. This multiculturality can be seen in many scenes. Audiences of various ages ranging from children to elders attend Dimash concerts. In the concerts, they sing the songs in Kazakh, English, Chinese and Russian along with Dimash. The fan’s congratulations on fasting flooded Dimash’s Instagram account. The congratulation is not only intended to Dimash, but also to fellow Muslim fans.

The inclusiveness which is very visible in the interaction between fans apparently is not only driven by the diversity of demographics, but also because the fans try to carry out the values ​​that are always promoted by Dimash. In his concerts, Dimash always delivers universal messages like “God has no nationality. Therefore, there is no such thing as a bad nation.”

On another occasion, he said “We were born first as humans, not singers, teachers, and so on. Therefore, before trying to succeed as anything, we should try to succeed in becoming human. “

Before singing “War and Peace”, Dimash once gave an introduction by saying, “We are not God. So, we have no right to choose someone else’s life choices. Many wars occur because adults obtrude each other and children become victims of the conflict. We should be able to live peacefully to make sure children don’t suffer because of adult conflict.” Again, this introductory words concord precisely with Gus Dur’s call to humanity, to build a civilization where humans can love, understand, and support each other.

It seems that Dimash has become a magnet for many fans around the world due to the combination of his amazing voice, extraordinary singing skills, beautiful appearance, and very humanist personality. Dimash is an example of how someone whose songs can unite people from different parts of the world. He is also a patriot who highly respects his cultural roots, loves his family, and respects the elders. He is very gentle and compassionate towards children. Dimash achievements are the fruit of his life principle, that musical talent as a mandate, not just a vehicle of self-actualization. From Dimash phenomenon, we can also draw a lesson that music not only about entertainment, but also inspiration to explore the beautiful side of human life. []

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