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About Rhoma Irama

The music of Indonesia was brought up to contemporary standards by vocalist Rhoma Irama. Together with his band, The Soneta Group, and coperformers including Elvy Sukaesih and Evie Tamala, Irama helped to transform the old style of music played by the Malay Orchestra into the modern, rhythmic, dance-inspiring, sounds of dangdut. While heavily inspired by rock, Irama continued to be influenced by urban Arab pop, Indian film music and orkes melayu, which combined Malaysian and western elements. Despite an impovished childhood, Irama used his powerful vocals to become one of Indonesia's most successful peformers. In 1980, Irama starred in the movie, Perjuangan Dan Do'A (Struggle And Prayer), perhaps the first Islamic rock film. For much of the 1980s, Irama used his music as a way to express Islamic evangelism. Aligning himself with the Muslim resentment towards the new order, he became an active supporter of the PPP political party, campaigning in general elections and appearing at rallies. As a result, the TVRI prevented him from appearing on television and his concerts were threatened by heavy security. In the 1990s, Irama shifted his support to the new order and became a major factor in the new order's reapprochment with the Muslims. ~ Craig Harris