Voice UK contestant inspired by Sarawak local music

Claudillea Holloway spent nine years in Kuching and five years in Kuala Lumpur, which exposed her to Malaysia’s diverse culture. – handout photo

By Jack Lapidus

A BRITISH contestant on the latest season of The Voice UK who grew up in Kuching is looking to incorporate the ‘sape’ in future performances of the reality singing competition.

Claudillea Holloway, who wowed judges with her rendition of Queen of the Night Aria during the blind auditions, told StarLifestyle that she was first introduced to the traditional Orang Ulu lute instrument while growing up in Kuching.

She moved to Kuching with her parents when she was two and grew up with the other Kelabit children – a community belongs to the Orang Ulu or “upriver” tribe.

She would hang out together with them every week and later an elderly woman introduced and taught her how to play the sape.

“Then, I continue to spend time with more elders who taught me about these beautiful stories passed down through songs,” said the 24-year-old singer.

“It is an instrument once played only by men. So, I could not be more proud to have learned it.

This had a huge influence on my love for music. I am very keen to incorporate it respectfully in future performances,” she said.

Holloway, with British and South African parentage left the Borneo state at the age of 11 and spent another five in Kuala Lumpur before she furthered her studies in United States.

“When I was in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to be an opera singer and took up vocal lessons to hone my singing techniques,” she recalled.

She enrolled herself to the Interlochen Arts Academy, in Michigan, United States when she was 16.

She furthered her studies with a major in classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music.

Holloway will next be competing in the knockout rounds of the popular reality singing contest after coach, singer will.i.am used his ‘steal’ to save the her from going home.

She initially had Meghan Trainor as her mentor but hit a bump during her second performance of the show when Trainor picked another budding singer Blaize China over her.

She must now out-perform her team members in the knockout rounds to advance to the live shows.