Yuna (singer)

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Yuna (singer).jpg
Yuna rehearsing at the 24th annual Juara Lagu.
Background information
Birth name Yunalis Mat Zara'ai
Born (1986-11-14) 14 November 1986 (age 29)
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia
Origin Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Genres Adult alternative, acoustic, folk rock, R&B, indie pop[1]
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, businesswoman
Instruments Vocals, guitar, ukulele
Years active 2008–present
Labels Yuna Room Records (2008–present)
Indie-Pop Music (2011–present)
Fader Label (2011–2012)
Verve Records (2013–present)
Members Yuna
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 14 November 1986 in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia to parents from Perak. Her father, Dato' Mat Zara'ai bin Alias is the current legal advisor of Mahkamah Tinggi at Johor Bahru[3] and her mother is a high school chemistry teacher.

Yuna attended SMK USJ 4 Subang Jaya, Selangor, where she completed her secondary education.[citation needed] After that, Yuna attended Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, where she studied legal studies at itsFaculty of Law.[4] In 2009, she graduated with a Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons.) degree.[5]


During her tertiary studies, Yuna was involved in the music scene. Yuna was once 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.[6] She released her debut US EP, Decorate, in the United States in March the same year.[7]

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 24 January 2012, her single "Live Your Life" debuted on iTunes. The track was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Pharrell Williams.[8] 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 16 February 2012, the official music video for "Live Your Life" was released.

On 24 April 2012, Yuna's US 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'.[9]

Yuna was the first runner-up of MTV Iggy's Best New Bands in the World.[10] 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.[11] 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".[12]

In 2012, Yuna was recognised with a National Youth Icon Award, awarded by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for her exceptional achievements in arts.[13]

In December 2014, Yuna released the song "Broke Her" as a single. It features a sample of Drake's 0 to 100.[14]

On 31 January 2015, Yuna performed in the closing ceremony of 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

In June 2015, she has been appointed as Malaysia's tourism adviser to boost tourist arrivals in the country alongside with Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and Jimmy Choo.

Yuna recorded the song Strawberry Letter 23 by singer Shuggie Otis used in a commercial for Swedish fashion retailer H&M starring Canadian model Daria Werbowy that aired in March 2015.[15]


Musical style[edit]

Yuna once described her music as "a cross between Mary Poppins and Coldplay".[16] She explains about this characterization of her 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."[17]


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.[18]


Anugerah Industri Muzik (The Music Industry Awards)

Anugerah Industri Muzik (or AIM) (literal English translation: The Music Industry Awards), is an annual event similar to Grammy Awards which recognises 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)
Year Category Nominated Work(s) Album Result Ref.
2010 (AIM17) Best New Artist Won [21]
Best Pop Song Dan Sebenarnya
(Yuna / Yuna)
Yuna (EP) Won
Best Song (Song of the Year) Won
Best Local English Song Deeper Conversation
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female) Dan Sebenarnya
(Yuna / Yuna)
2011 (AIM18) Best Album Cover Decorate Nominated [22]
Best Pop Song Penakut
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female) Won
Gelora Jiwa Nominated
Kembara Award
Special Award
2012 (AIM19) Best Pop Song Terukir di Bintang
(Yuna / Yuna)
Terukir Di Bintang Nominated [23]
Best Local English Song Memo
(Yuna / Yuna)
Photo of You
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Album Cover Nominated
Best Musical Arrangement in a Song Terukir di Bintang
(Arranger: AG Coco)
Best Music Video Sparkle
(Dir: Quek Shio Chuan)
2013 (AIM20) Best Duo / Collaboration Vocal Performance in a Song You're So Fine (duet with Guba)
(Gabriel Robert / Gabriel Robert & Yuna)
Hilang Nominated [24]
Best Local English Song Nominated
Best Pop Song Lelaki
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Song (Song of the Year) Lelaki
(Yuna / Yuna)
Best Music Video Dwihati (duet with Aizat Amdan)
(Dir: Syahir Ismail & Ili Amdan)
2014 (AIM21) Best Music Video Falling
(Dir: Yuna & Zul Luey)
Anugerah Planet Muzik (The Music Planet Awards)

Anugerah Planet Muzik (or APM) (literal English translation: The Music Planet 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
Year Category Nominated Work(s) Album Result
2008 (APM 8) Best Vocal Performance in a Song (New Female Artiste) Dan Sebenarnya Yuna (EP) Nominated
2009 (APM 9) Malaysia's Most Popular Artiste Nominated
2011 (APM 11) Regional Most Popular Artiste Nominated
2012 (APM 12) Best Female Artiste Nominated
Best Song Terukir Di Bintang Terukir Di Bintang Nominated
Most Popular Regional Artiste Nominated
New Media Icon Nominated
2013 (APM 13) Most Popular Regional Song Terukir Di Bintang Terukir Di Bintang Nominated
Most Popular Regional Artiste Nominated
2014 (APM 14) APM Most Popular Artiste Nominated
Best Duo/Group Dwihati (shared with Aizat Amdan) Nominated
2015 (APM 15) Regional Most Popular Artiste Nominated
2015 (APM 15) Social Media Icon Nominated
2015 (APM 15) Most Popular Song Nominated
Anugerah Juara Lagu (The Champion Song Awards)

Anugerah Juara Lagu (or AJL) (literal English translation: The Champion Song Awards), is a yearly event which recognises 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)
Year Song Album Composer Lyricist Category Result
2009 (AJL 24) Dan Sebenarnya Yuna – EP Yuna Yuna Open Won
(1st Runner-Up)
2010 (AJL 25) Cinta Sempurna Decorate Yuna Yuna Open Nominated
2011 (AJL26) Gadis Semasa Yuna Yuna Open Nominated
Penakut Yuna Yuna Open Nominated
2012 (AJL 27) Terukir di Bintang Terukir Di Bintang Yuna Yuna Open Won
2014 (AJL 29) Lelaki Yuna Yuna Open Nominated
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 recognises the most popular artistes of the year. The award is a yearly ceremony organised 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)
Year Category Results
2009 (ABPBH 23) Popular New Artist (Female) Won
Popular Female Singer Nominated
2010 (ABPBH 24) Popular Female Singer Won
2011 (ABPBH 25) Popular Female Singer Won
2012 (ABPBH 26) Popular Female Singer Nominated
2013 (ABPBH 27) Popular Female Singer Nominated
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 recognises 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
Year Category Nominated Work(s) Result Ref.
2010 Break Out Award (Best New Act) Won [29]
Popstar Award Won
Mobile Artiste of the Year Dan Sebenarnya (WkndSessions) Nominated
Ultimate Shout! Award Won
2012 Popstar Award Won [30]
Power Vocal Awards Nominated
Music Video Awards Terukir di Bintang Nominated
Fresh TV Series Awards Bintang Di Langit Nominated
Wired Celebrity Awards Won
2013 Music Video Award Dwihati (shared with Aizat Amdan) Nominated
Popstar Award Nominated
(shared with Aizat Amdan) Nominated
Wired Celebrity Awards Nominated
Other Awards
Year Award Category Nominated Work(s) Album Result
2008 VIMA Music Awards Best Pop Vocalist Won
2009 AVIMA Awards Best Song To Play At Camp Fire and To Do Away With Monday Morning Blues Deeper Conversation Decorate (EP) Nominated
Best Overall Female Vocalist Nominated
Junksounds Awards Best Acoustic Act Nominated
Song of the Year Backpacking Around Europe Yuna (EP) Nominated
2011 MACP Awards Most Performed Malay Song Dan Sebenarnya Yuna (EP) Won
MTV Iggy Best New Band in the World Nominated
2012 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards Favourite Asian Act}[31] Nominated
MTV Europe Music Awards Best Asian Act[32] Nominated
Newbie Awards Best New Female Artist Nominated
PPMH Awards Stylo Artist Award Nominated
Promising Artist Award Won
2013 Bella Awards Bella Creative Award Nominated
2014 World Music Awards Worlds Best Song Lelaki, Rescue Material, Nocturnal Nominated
Worlds Best Album Nocturnal Nominated
Worlds Best Video Lelaki Nominated
Home Nominated
Worlds Best Female Artist Nominated
Worlds Best Live Act Nominated
Worlds Best Entertainer of the Year Nominated
MTV Europe Music Awards Best Southeast Asia Act Come Back Nocturnal Nominated
2014 Brandlaureate Awards Grand Master Brand Icon Award Special Award
2014 MACP Awards Most Performed English Song I Wanna Go Nocturnal Won
2015 The Boombox Awards R&B Video of The Year Come Back Nocturnal Nominated
2015 Festival FIlem Malaysia 27 (FFM27) Best Original Film Song Lautan Material Won
2015 MACP Awards Most Performed English Song Rescue Nocturnal Won

Business/ Entrepreneur[edit]

Yuna co-owns a women's clothes boutique, IAMJETFUELshop, in Subang Jaya, Selangor.[33] In 2014, she re-opened the shop with the new name, November Culture also in Subang Jaya but this shop operate worldwide through online. 14Nov by Yuna Zarai (the brand name) is the clothes and scarves that designed by herself. She started to bring this brand slowly in US by joining the fahion show (Fashion Fighting Famine or #FFFShow) in California. Other than that, she opened the pop store in NY and also in LA.

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.[34] 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 V. 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". Not only that, this song was also featured in Being Mary Jane. 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. Lights and Camera was also used as one of the soundtracks from Beyond the Lights. Yuna's version of A Whole New World from the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, featured in the Deluxe Edition (bonus track) for the album We Love Disney (2015 compilation album).[35]

Lights and Camera from Nocturnal has been spotted in Top 50 Global Hits chart on spotify.


Main article: Yuna discography


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  25. ^ Chua, Dennis (9 January 2013). "Aizat rules with Yuna’s song". New Straits Times. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  26. ^ "Siti Nurhaliza makes it No. 7.". New Straits Times. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
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  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. ^ "Yuna Zarai Brings Her Sound and Style to the U.S.". Marie Claire. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  33. ^ "Arrow Music | Season 1". CWTV. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  34. ^

External links[edit]