Dr. Wan Zawawi, Malaysian composer behind Ramli Sarip and M. Nasir songs, has died

The 75-year-old musician and academic died of a heart attack

Dr. Wan Zawawi, the Malaysian songwriter who worked with the likes of Ramli Sarip and M. Nasir, has died. He was 75.

The composer died May 18 of a heart attack, having collapsed at his Petaling Jaya home while preparing for Subuh (dawn) prayers, his sister Datin Wan Hiyati Wan Ibrahim told Bernama. The funeral went ahead yesterday evening.

He leaves behind his wife Noorshah Mohd Salleh and children Rendra, Hameer and Kaiyisha Zawawi, all of them singer-songwriters.

Dr. Wan’s wife told Berita Harian that Dr. Wan had seemed fine prior to his passing, though he had been managing complications due to a clogged artery. “They detected the clog about two months ago,” Noorshah Mohd Salleh said, adding that he was supposed to begin treatment after the Hari Raya season, “but it was too late.”

In a career as a composer that stretches back to 1987, Dr. Wan wrote tunes for Ramli Sarip, M. Nasir, Search and Ella, among others. Famously having written Ramli Sarip’s ‘Perjalanan Hidup’ and Search’s ‘Metropolitan’, Dr. Wan released his own solo album, ‘Dayung’, in 1996 via BMG Pacific.

Nasir co-produced the album, which featured backing vocals by Malaysian pop diva Tiara Jacquelina, an appearance from musical duo Nuradee and mixing by Peter Chong of XPDC and Siti Nurhaliza fame.

Dr. Wan was also an anthropologist who graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy PhD from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and lectured at the University of Brunei Darussalam.

Tributes to Dr. Wan have poured in, including from his publishing editor Ismail Gareth Richards of the Gerak Budaya and Hikayat bookshops in Penang, who wrote in part, “He was an outstanding composer of songs, an astute supporter of Malaysian indie films, and so so much more.

“And I learned to admire his principled and progressive scholarship, his writing on the Malay working class, on Indigenous peoples, on the environment, on cultural studies, and his self-reflective, self-critical approach to knowledge creation. As I say, we will all have our own stories.”

The Malaysian Music Authors’ Copyright Protection organisation also wrote in tribute to the composer, noting his passion for producing works that addressed social and environmental issues alongside his more successful writing for major Malaysian artists.

You can see more tributes below.

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Dear Uncle Wan Zawawi Ibrahim … you left us so very suddenly, it is still difficult to process.This photo really…

Posted by Adil Johan on Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'unSahabat aku Prof Dr Wan Zawawi Ibrahim telah meninggal dunia pagi ini.Kehilangan…

Posted by Al Jafree Md Yusop on Tuesday, May 17, 2022