Superstar from Indonesia: Agnes Monica

I must confess: thinking about pop-stardom for me is mostly related to Anglo-American Singers, such as Michael Jackson, Beyoncé Knowles, Adele or – for the elderly – maybe Madonna or Bono. Even on a European scale – what comes to my mind? Sweden: okay, easy: ABBA. Italy? Eros Ramazotti – still easy. But Netherlands, Belgium or even Poland? Only after quite a while of pondering. So not to mention other continents. But this is exactly the reason, why we are here. Exploring the world of music.

This is worldmusic as we see it. So within the next week we’ll give you (and us) a short introduction into Asian pop music and Asian superstars. Ever heard the name Agnes Monica? It might not be to bigmouthed to assume that one in a million might have come across this name before. Asking the same question in Indonesia, the ratio might be 246.000.000:1. The 26-years-old is in Indonesia what is widely known as a pop megastar, selling hundreds of thousands of CDs. Wherever she turns up she is very likely to cause complete havoc and hysteria.

Beginning this week she’s been to Hollywood to attend the premiere of the new Oblivion movie, starring Tom Cruise. And it all began already, when she was a child. Agnes entered music industry in 1992. She was only six years old, when she released her first album Si Meong. Two more were to follow. As a teenager Agnes Monica shifted her career towards TV. She started in soaps at the age of thirteen. The next year she starred at the series Pernikahan Dini – which boosted her to stardom. Later, she became the highest-paid teenage artist in Indonesia.

 Up to present her TV career is equally important than her singing career. In 2003, she released her fourth studio album And the Story Goes, which marked her transition from a child singer to a female artist. According to her record company at that time, Aquarius Musikindo the debut sold 35 000 copies – before being released. On her fifth studio album, Whaddup A.. ‘?! (2005), she collaborated with American R&B singer Keith Martin. She also appeared in two Taiwanese drama series, The Hospital and Romance In the White House.

She participated in the 2008 and 2009 Asia Song Festival in Seoul, South Korea, and received “Best Asian Artist Award” at each event. Agnes took creative control of her sixth studio album, Sacredly Agnezious (2009), for which she served as the producer and songwriter. In 2010, she was appointed as one of the judges on the talent show Indonesian Idol and was also one of the international hosts of the red carpet at the American Music Awards of 2010 in Los Angeles. 2010 was also the years, when she signed her first big international record contract with Sony.

Agnes’ musical roots are obvious: R’n’B music and hiphop, popular styles all around the globe, and plain pop – sometimes of the really sugar coated type. Aretha Franklin, Madonna or Beyoncé are frequently mentioned as her major influences. Though presently on the sunny side of life, Angnes wasn’t born in Jakarta with a golden spoon in her mouth at all. She was born on July 1st 1986 to a family of Chinese ancestry.

Her mom was a table tennis player, her dad player badmindton. Her brother Steve works now as her manager. During school Agnes trained her voice by singing in church and at vocal courses. Agnes Monica can be regarded as one of the best known artists in Indonesia. Nevertheless it is hard to gain a glimpse at the private life of this Asian superstar. But it happens from time to time, though.

In 2007 it was revealed that she was involved in a relationship to another singer. His name’s Dirly, the runner-up of Indonesian Idol season 3. But they broke up soon. Meanwhile Agnes Monica has become one of the most-awarded Indonesian singers of all times, including seven Panasonic Awards, four MTV Indonesia Awards just to mention a few. And I bet: there are plenty yet to come. Andreas Nöthen

Discography: Si Meong (1992) Yess! (1995) Bala-Bala (1996) And the Story Goes’; (2003) Whaddup A.. ‘?! (2005) Sacredly Agnezious (2009)