Yuna (singer)

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Yuna (singer).jpg
Yuna rehearsing at the 24th annual Juara Lagu.
Background information
Birth nameYunalis Mat Zara'ai
Born(1986-11-14) 14 November 1986 (age 28)
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia
OriginKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
GenresAdult alternative, acoustic, folk rock, R&B, indie pop[1]
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, Businesswoman
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar, Ukulele
Years active2008–present
LabelsYuna Room Records (2008–present)
Indie-Pop Music (2011–present)
Fader Label (2011–2012)
Verve Records (2013-present)
Farhan Fadzlishah
Efry Arwis
Adil Ali
Adam Shahrir
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Yuna (singer).jpg
Yuna rehearsing at the 24th annual Juara Lagu.
Background information
Birth nameYunalis Mat Zara'ai
Born(1986-11-14) 14 November 1986 (age 28)
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia
OriginKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
GenresAdult alternative, acoustic, folk rock, R&B, indie pop[1]
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, Businesswoman
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar, Ukulele
Years active2008–present
LabelsYuna Room Records (2008–present)
Indie-Pop Music (2011–present)
Fader Label (2011–2012)
Verve Records (2013-present)
Farhan Fadzlishah
Efry Arwis
Adil Ali
Adam Shahrir

Yunalis Mat Zara'ai (born 14 November 1986) (Jawi: يونليس مت زارءاي), commercially known as Yuna, is a Malaysian singer, songwriter, and businesswoman.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Yunalis Mat Zara'ai was born on the 14 November 1986 in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia to parents from Perak. Her father, Dato' Mat Zara'ai is the current legal advisor of Pahang[3] and her mother is a high school teacher.

Yuna attended SMK USJ 4, where she completed her secondary education.[citation needed] After this, Yuna attended Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, where she studied law at its Faculty of Law.[4] In 2009, she graduated with a Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons.) degree.[citation needed]


During her tertiary studies, Yuna was involved in the music scene. Yuna is an independent Malaysian singer-songwriter. She began writing her own songs when she was 14 years old, and her first performance of her own songs was at the age of 19, after she learned how to play guitar. She has performed in numerous acoustic shows and events in many parts of Malaysia since 2006. The same year, she auditioned for the first season of One in a Million, making it to the top 40 round before she got cut from the competition.

Yuna was eventually discovered in the US by the Indie-Pop record label and management company. They flew out to Malaysia to convince her to sign with them and then proceeded to get her a deal with FADER Label, a record label based in New York, in February 2011.[5] She released her debut US EP, Decorate, in the United States in March the same year.[6]

One of the first few people who expressed interest in her music was Farhan Fadzlishah aka Pa'an (Telephony Delivery), who later became her supporting guitarist. Along the way, Efry Arwis (Lightcraft) helped her with the bass while Adib Azfar handled the drums. Adil Ali (Seven Collar T-shirt) replaced Adib Azfar after the latter quit to concentrate on his drumming role in Oh Chentaku. Yuna performs with her band when she is not active in acoustic gigs.

On January 24, 2012, her single "Live Your Life" debuted on iTunes. The track was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Pharrell Williams.[7] MTV Iggy described the track as, "polished until it gleams but instead of burying Yuna, it lifts her up. The track has hints that a diva is waiting to shine." On February 16, 2012, the official music video for "Live Your Life" was released.

On April 24, 2012, Yuna's U.S. debut self-titled album was released. Debuting at No.23 on the Pop chart and No.86 on the Top 100 Albums on iTunes, Yuna was also No.23 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart. Accolades from fans and critics alike, such as Billboard, NPR, Elle, NY Times, Vibe Claire and National Geographic, who raves that her sound is “as fresh, honest and deeply personal as anything by Bon Iver or tUnEyArDs," have been rolling in.

She performed "Live Your Life" on late-night TV shows Conan and Last Call with Carson Daly. She was featured on the CBS Evening News in a featured profile piece and toured with Graffiti6 with stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. She also contributed to the Savages soundtrack on the track, Here Comes the Sun.

Yuna started out as a solo MySpace artist in 2006, singing in both English and Malay.

Yuna's meteoric rise in the Malaysian indie music scene is largely due to the strong following she gained via Myspace. Having played at many gigs since the release of her Demo, EP and then two local albums, she is now focusing on promoting and performing music on her debut US Album. Yuna also will be a part of Lollapalooza 2012 line up.

In 2008, she released her self-titled EP which become a massive hit in Malaysia most notably the single 'Deeper Conversation'.[8]

Yuna was the first runner-up of MTV Iggy's Best New Bands in the World.[9] She performed at the historic MTV Studios in Times Square New York singing "Decorate", "Come As You Are", "Lullabies" which is produced by Chris Braide and her new single "Live Your Life", which is produced by Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D.

Yuna recently signed with Verve Music Group.[10] Multiple Grammy-winning producer David Foster, who heads the creative operations of Verve, tweeted: "I'm really excited about the next hot artist to join Verve Music. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for Yuna in 2013".

Charted in Heatseekers Album on Billboard "Live Your Life".[11]

In 2012, Yuna was recognized with a National Youth Icon Award, awarded by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for her exceptional achievements in arts.[12]


Musical style[edit]

Yuna describes her music as "a cross between Mary Poppins and Coldplay".[13] She explains about musical style, "I can’t believe people still hold onto that! It was a quote that I had on, like, my MySpace music page seven years ago. But yeah, what I meant to say is I like to incorporate a lot of different genres in my music, and, you know, having a sense of honesty and sincerity in the lyrics as well. But I’m still pop at the same time."[14]


Yuna has cited Coldplay, Bob Dylan, and Feist as influences, having been introduced to them by her father. Growing up in Malaysia, she listened to a lot of The Cardigans and Fiona Apple, Garbage.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Yuna co-owns a women's clothes boutique, IAMJETFUELshop, in Subang Jaya, Selangor.[16]

She was once romantically linked with the Malaysian TV host Qi Qushairi Razali,[17] but the relationship ended in early 2012 when it proved too difficult to balance their relationship whilst Qi lives in Malaysia.[18]


Main article: Yuna discography


Anugerah Industri Muzik (Music Industry Awards)

Anugerah Industri Muzik (or AIM) (literal English translation: Music Industry Awards), is an annual event similar to Grammy Awards which recognizes Malaysia's finest artists.[19][20] Yuna has received nine awards (including the special Kembara Award in 2011).

The year indicates the ceremony year, awarding the previous years' works.

Anugerah Industri Muzik Malaysia (AIM)
YearCategoryNominated Work(s)AlbumResultRef.
2010 (AIM17)Best New ArtistWon[21]
Best Pop SongDan Sebenarnya
(Yuna / Yuna)
Yuna (EP)Won
Best Song (Song of the Year)Won
Best Local English SongDeeper Conversation
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female)Dan Sebenarnya
(Yuna / Yuna)
2011 (AIM18)Best Album CoverDecorateNominated[22]
Best Pop SongPenakut
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female)Won
Gelora JiwaNominated
Kembara Award
Special Award
2012 (AIM19)Best Pop SongTerukir di Bintang
(Yuna / Yuna)
Terukir Di BintangNominated[23]
Best Local English SongMemo
(Yuna / Yuna)
Photo of You
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Album CoverNominated
Best Musical Arrangement in a SongTerukir di Bintang
(Arranger: AG Coco)
Best Music VideoSparkle
(Dir: Quek Shio Chuan)
2013 (AIM20)Best Duo / Collaboration Vocal Performance in a SongYou're So Fine (duet with Guba)
(Gabriel Robert / Gabriel Robert & Yuna)
Best Local English SongNominated
Best Pop SongLelaki
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Song (Song of the Year)Lelaki
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Music VideoDwihati (duet with Aizat Amdan)
(Dir: Syahir Ismail & Ili Amdan)
2014 (AIM21)Best Music VideoFalling
(Dir: Yuna & Zul Luey)
Anugerah Planet Muzik (Planet Music Awards)

Anugerah Planet Muzik (or APM) (literal English translation: Planet Music Awards), is an annual event participated by three different countries - Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Each year, one of the three countries will host the event where all artistes from the three participating countries would gather to compete in two main categories - Best Achievement (judged by professional judges from all three countries) and Most Popular (voted by voters from all participating countries through Short Message Service (SMS) and forms in magazines). Yuna has received nine nominations.

Anugerah Planet Muzik
YearCategoryNominated Work(s)AlbumResult
2008 (APM 8)Best Vocal Performance in a Song (New Female Artiste)Dan SebenarnyaYuna (EP)Nominated
2009 (APM 9)Malaysia's Most Popular ArtisteNominated
2011 (APM 11)Regional Most Popular ArtisteNominated
2012 (APM 12)Best Female ArtisteNominated
Best SongTerukir Di BintangTerukir Di BintangNominated
Most Popular Regional ArtisteNominated
New Media IconNominated
2013 (APM 13)Most Popular Regional SongTerukir Di BintangTerukir Di BintangNominated
Most Popular Regional ArtisteNominated
2014 (APM 14)APM Most Popular ArtisteNominated
Best Duo/GroupDwihati (shared with Aizat Amdan)Nominated
Anugerah Juara Lagu (Song Champion Awards)

Anugerah Juara Lagu (or AJL) (literal English translation: Song Champion Awards), is a yearly event which recognizes the musical composition of a song based on the collaborations of three parties - the lyricist, the composer (s) and the artiste. Its weekly programme will gather singles and song nominations from various artistes where they will compete until their songs are shortlisted as finalists before ultimately being nominated to be judged by professional judges. From 1986 until 1991, finalists were chosen based on monthly winners, and from 1992 until 2008, songs were separated into three main categories - Ballad, Irama Malaysia and Ethnic Creative Song and also Pop Rock. However, from 2009 onwards, the award show was revamped and all 12 finalists were made to compete against each other regardless of category. Throughout Yuna's four years of participating, five of her songs had qualified for nomination in the show. In 2012, she won the award show's highest title, the Champion of Champions with Terukir di Bintang, her seventh Malay language song.[25]

Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL)
2009 (AJL 24)Dan SebenarnyaYuna - EPYunaYunaOpenWon
(1st Runner-Up)
2010 (AJL 25)Cinta SempurnaDecorateYunaYunaOpenNominated
2011 (AJL26)Gadis SemasaYunaYunaOpenNominated
2012 (AJL 27)Terukir di BintangTerukir Di BintangYunaYunaOpenWon
2014 (AJL 29)LelakiYunaYunaOpenPending
Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian (Berita Harian's Most Popular Star Awards)

Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian (or ABPBH) (literal English translation: Berita Harian's Most Popular Star Awards), is an award ceremony that recognizes the most popular artistes of the year. The award is a yearly ceremony organized by one of Malaysia's newspapers, Berita Harian with results entirely based on votes cast by readers. Yuna has received five nominations and won three awards.[26][27][28]

Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian (ABPBH)
2009 (ABPBH 23)Popular New Artist (Female)Won
Popular Female SingerNominated
2010 (ABPBH 24)Popular Female SingerWon
2011 (ABPBH 25)Popular Female SingerWon
2012 (ABPBH 26)Popular Female SingerNominated
2013 (ABPBH 27)Popular Female SingerNominated
SHOUT! Awards

The Shout! Awards is an entertainment award show created to celebrate the Malaysian entertainment scene which is said has rapidly developed. The award recognizes people of music, television, film and radio industry as well as the entertainment industry as a whole. Yuna has received thirteen nominations and won five awards including the award show highest honour, The Ultimate Shout! Award.

Shout! Awards
YearCategoryNominated Work(s)ResultRef.
2010Break Out Award (Best New Act)Won[29]
Popstar AwardWon
Mobile Artiste of the YearDan Sebenarnya (WkndSessions)Nominated
Ultimate Shout! AwardWon
2012Popstar AwardWon[30]
Power Vocal AwardsNominated
Music Video AwardsTerukir di BintangNominated
Fresh TV Series AwardsBintang Di LangitNominated
Wired Celebrity AwardsWon
2013Music Video AwardDwihati (shared with Aizat Amdan)Nominated-
Popstar AwardNominated
(shared with Aizat Amdan)Nominated
Wired Celebrity AwardsNominated
Other Awards
YearAwardCategoryNominated Work(s)AlbumResult
2008VIMA Music AwardsBest Pop VocalistWon
2009AVIMA AwardsBest Song To Play At Camp Fire and To Do Away With Monday Morning BluesDeeper ConversationDecorate (EP)Nominated
Best Overall Female VocalistNominated
Junksounds AwardsBest Acoustic ActNominated
Song of the YearBackpacking Around EuropeYuna (EP)Nominated
2011MACP AwardsMost Performed Malay SongDan SebenarnyaYuna (EP)Won
MTV IggyBest New Band in the WorldNominated
2012Nickelodeon Kids Choice AwardsFavourite Asian Act}[31]Nominated
MTV Europe Music AwardsBest Asian Act[32]Nominated
Newbie AwardsBest New Female ArtistNominated
PPMH AwardsStylo Artist AwardNominated
Promising Artist AwardWon
2013Bella AwardsBella Creative AwardNominated
2014World Music AwardsWorlds Best SongLelaki, lights & cameraNominated
Worlds Best AlbumNocturnalNominated
Worlds Best VideoLelakiNominated
Worlds Best Female ArtistNominated
Worlds Best Live ActNominated
Worlds Best Entertainer of the YearNominated
MTV Europe Music AwardsBest Southeast Asia ActCome BackNocturnalNominated

In popular culture[edit]

Yuna covered "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles for the 2012 film, Savages. The song was featured during the ending credits."Tourist" was featured as part of the soundtrack in season 1 of a US TV series, Arrow.[33] Her song "Favourite Thing" was featured in another US TV series, Pretty Little Liars. She was featured in the Malaysian version of KakaoTalk advertisement, released in Malay, English, and Chinese language. She also recorded a song in collaboration with Adam Young of Owl City called "Shine Your Way" for the soundtrack of the animated film The Croods. The film was released by DreamWorks Animation in March 2013. A remix version of her song "Live Your Life" by MeLo-X appeared on the in-game radio station WorldWide FM in the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. Another Yuna song "Lullabies" was also featured in the twenty-second episode, the season finale of the fifth season and also the series finale of 90210, the reboot of "Beverly Hills, 90210". Yuna also had her song "Lights and Camera" featured on an episode of the third season of the US reality show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.


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  3. ^ "EXCO of Pahang". Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Chin, Koh Lay (29 November 2010). "Yuna on being "Malay Malay"". The Nut Graph. 
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  8. ^ "Someone Out of Town by Yuna Music on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free". Retrieved 2012-02-07. 
  9. ^ "BEST NEW BAND 2011". Mtv Iggy. Retrieved 2012-02-07. 
  10. ^ "It's Official: David Foster Named Chairman of Verve Music Group". Billboard. December 15, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Pandelela, Yuna Win Youth Icon Award". Malaysian Digest. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Joseph, Charlene (July 15, 2009). "Yuna reveals her dark side". Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
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  15. ^
  16. ^ "Yuna Zarai Brings Her Sound and Style to the U.S.". Marie Claire. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Yuna gets inspired by spider". The Daily Chilli. 1 February 2011.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  18. ^ Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli (30 September 2012). "SHOWBIZ: Yuna’s Homecoming". New Straits Times. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "About RIM". 24 October 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Suraya al-Attas (13 December 1993). "Countdown to local Grammys". New Straits Times (New Straits Times Press). p. 27. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
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  23. ^ Jenilyn Alexia (November 19, 2012). "English song the biggest winner of the night". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  24. ^ Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli (December 15, 2013). "Hafiz, Yuna big winners of AIM20". New Straits Times. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  25. ^ Dennis Chua (January 9, 2013). "Aizat rules with Yuna’s song". New Straits Times. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  26. ^ "Siti Nurhaliza makes it No. 7.". New Straits Times. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  27. ^ Dennis Chua (August 4, 2011). "Newcomers win big at ABPBH". New Straits Times Press. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  28. ^ "Shouts of joy". theSun. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  29. ^ "Yuna shines at Shout!". New Straits Times. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  30. ^ "Asian Acts Wonder Girls, Agnes Monica, Charice, & Yuna Rock The U.S. [VIDEOS]". 3 April 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  31. ^ "Yuna nominated for MTV Europe Music Awards". New Straits Times. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  32. ^ "Arrow Music | Season 1". CWTV. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 

External links[edit]