When searching for a picture or video of Nasida Ria or El-Hawa, you will be presented with a group of women using headscarf, wrapped in long clothes that cover their arms and legs. Similar clothing was also found worn by a singer known as Ratu Kendang (Queen of the Drums), Nida Mutik, who often performed dangdut shalawat (prayer). This style of fashion corresponded with the songs they performed, most of which contain guidance or teachings based on Islamic values.
Religious attributes and song lyrics that hold Islamic values incorporated in the performances of some dangdut singer inseperable from the closeness of dangdut to the practice of art in Islam, such as recitation of the Quran by men (qari) and women (qariah), qasidah, and gambus music. Women performers of Islamic music generally wear clothes that cover their bodies, and some of them carry the practice when performing dangdut music. Kurniawati is one of the singers who had consistently donned headscarf while performing both Islamic art and dangdut songs.
The singer began exploring the dangdut scene after meeting Emha Ainun Najib, better known as Cak Nun – a cultural and religious figure from Jombang, East Java. Kurniawati was then invited to join KiaiKanjeng, repertoire Cak Nun often used as companion while doing da’wah. As it was stated on Cak Nun’s official website, Kurniawati’s involvement during KiaiKanjeng’s tours prompt her to study dangdut, Malayan, Javanese, Banyuwangi, pop, Arabic music, and other ethnic music. In 2000, Kurniawati contributed to KiaiKanjeng’s album Dangdut Kesejukan. When performing with KiaiKanjeng, Kurniawati always wore a headscarf.
The look that was presented by Nasida Ria, El-Hawa, Mutik Nida dan Kurniawati, with their religious attributes, in a way also strengthen their personal branding. Coordinating the clothes their wearing with the songs their singing is to imply to the audience that their brand of dangdut is religious – one that contain advice – though it does not rule out the possibility of them singing songs with a different theme.
But it’s not just female dangdut singers who performed religious songs that decided to incorporate Islamic style to their looks. More and more female dangdut singers singing non-religious themed songs are now coming out with modest looks. Such singer is Elvy Sukaesih. During the Indonesian Dangdut Award 2017 event, Elvy Sukaesih performed the hit single that catapulted her name, “Sugar”. Her appearance is different from what can be seen in the song’s music video that was made in the late ‘80s. In the video, Elvy Sukaesih was seen wearing a more open and revealing dress, and she has not yet worn a headscarf.
Then there’s qasidah dangdut group Qasima which, in addition to performing religious-themed songs, also sing songs with other themes such as “Jare Sopo” – a song about dangdut that is no longer seen as tacky. In one of their live shows, the group also did cover of songs from other singers such as “Bojo Galak”, which was popularized by Via Vallen.
Evie Tamala, Ikke Nurjanah and Cici Paramide are another examples of female dangdut singers who decided to don a headscarf at the peak of their careers. If the look of Nasida Ria and El-Hawa is closely related to the content of their songs, then Ikke Nurjanah and Cici Paramida attributed their appearance to personal experiences. In an interview with JawaPos.com, Ikke Nurjanah stated that she decided to wear a headscarf she went to do the Hajj pilgrimage. The following is an excerpt of Ikke Nurjanah’s story as told to the reporter of JawaPos.com:
“There was a moment where I was no longer comfortable without a hijab, so I wore hijab. I feel more peaceful… My parents were very delighted. I told them that I’m not perfect, but I will learn. My children also gave me their support because I was contented.” (JawaPos.com, February 19, 2018)
Cici Paramida also voiced a similar reason. The singer of “Wulan Merindu” said that she felt more at peace and complacent since she started wearing headscarf. Furthermore, the decision of some celebrities, including female dangdut singers, to wear headscarf is supported by the fact that they would still have career opportunities even if they changed their look into a more style. This sentiment was implied by Cici Paramida in a story published by Viva.co.id in 2016, “… In my opinion, there are many artists that wear headscarf or hijab and still managed to keep their career running smoothly. So, I’m confident to wear hijab.” (Junianto, 2016)
So, it is to be understood that the entertainment industry does provides opportunities for the diversity of representation for the people involved. Specifically in the scene of dangdut, the vast career opportunities for these female singers can slowly shift people’s perspective about dangdut, that it isn’t always synonymous with sensual appearances. Moreover, contestants in dangdut talent search contests series such as KDI, D’Academy and Bintang Pantura, are starting to appear wearing religious attributes, like the headscarf.
Ikke Nurjanah Beberkan Alasannya Berhijab. (2018). Jawapos.com. Diakses dari