Photographer Bob Lee latest photography book offers a vivid and fascinating glimpse into the Getai scene.
It was out of curiosity that he started shooting getais (translated literally as song stage). These are boisterous live stage concerts, held annually in the Housing Board Estate (HDB) heartlands during the Hungry Ghosts’ Festival.
What draws people to these concerts? What is the allure of these getai performers, whose fan-base and appeal more than doubles at every Ghost festival? Why is it that these concerts, which are deemed kitschy as some, still reigns year after year?
Singapore-based photographer Bob Lee, 37, sought to answer these questions, as he ventured into the getai scene with camera in hand, two years ago.
This collection of photos in his fourth and latest photography book On Stage Off Stage captures the preparation, anticipation, excitement, professionalism and emotions of getai performers and the getai pulse that riddles through the heartlands every 7th month of the lunar calendar.
From these pictures, their passion and professionalism is evident on stage – even more so backstage. From divine intervention and prayers for good weather to technological reliance of monitoring ‘Likes’ via iPad, makeshift wardrobes to custom-costumes… there’s no lack of want and desire to please the audience, visible or not.
These colourful pictures compiled in this self-published photography book, documented true stars mingling amongst Singapore’s heartlanders, performing to their best, a showcase to the young that culture and tradition reigns even if we choose to bask in i-World.
Bob said: “Getai is a part of our collective memory, and I recorded this form of grassroots performance through my lens. Should it become a thing of the past, at least there are photographs of these getai entertainers who gave their best for every performance to show our future generations.”