Being blind hasn’t stopped Alfred Ho from becoming a singer and a live performer. Regular commuters who pass through the LRT Concourse at KLCC in Kuala Lumpur know him as the blind busker who serenades them with songs by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and Pat Boone.
“My main forte is the oldies,” says Ho, though he also has Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Spanish tunes in his repertoire.
Ho, now 68, lost his eyesight when he was three years old after he contracted measles. He went to St Nicholas School For The Blind in Penang and received vocational training to be a phone operator. But difficulty in finding a job led him to a life in music instead.
“Someone recommended I participate in a singing competition called Bakat TV,” says the self-taught guitarist, who reached the semi-finals of the 1971 show.
He began pursuing a singing career after he moved to KL in 1985, performing at weddings, in pubs and shopping centres, and even corporate events. But as the gigs slowed down, he also had to stop appearing in bars and pubs when the cigarette smoke started to affect his health.
Ho believes not having someone to manage him is what’s holding him back from working more often. “It doesn’t matter if you’re blind; if you have the the right music agent, you’ll go places,” he says. Not that it’s dampened his spirit. Ho and Rufina, his wife, do all that they can to get him out there.
So his message to other people with disabilities, who are struggling to pursue their dream or facing challenges in trying to make a living, is to always persevere. “I’ve gone through a lot of pitfalls, but we should work hard at whatever we want and never give up.” – Yasmin Ahmad Kamil
Albert Ho can be heard most Thursdays, 5-7pm, at the AK Busk Stop in KLCC LRT. You can also reach him and Rufina at 012-346 1232 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.