For close to half a decade, the name of Daud Bukit Abal (Mat Daud Che Mat) was synonymous with the Dikir Barat tradition of his native state of Kelantan.
Born in the Pasir Putih district of Kelantan, his interest in Dikir began in light hearted fashion, imitating famous Dikir masters of his time. His deep and melodious voice however made him an increasingly popular singer, and he eventually emerged as a leading Tok Jogho.
Since 1961, when he made his debut, through the 1970's and 1980's, and till he was declared and granted the title Master of the Dikir Barat by his contemporaries in 2006, he ensured the ascendency of the Dikir tradition in Kelantan. As other traditional art forms in Kelantan were proscribed by the PAS led state government, Daud Bukit Abal further widened the platform of Dikir to embrace musicians and artists from these other 'outlawed' traditions.
In 2005, when there were suggestions that Dikir Barat, too, be proscribed and brought within the 'reins of control', he, along with other renowned Dikir performers, put up a formidable protest which led to state authorities rescinding their decision.
Along with the other renowned Tok Jogho, the late Salleh Jambu and the legendary Tukang Karut, Seman Wau Bulan (composer of the legendary Dikir song, Wau Bulan), Daud Bukit Abal ensured the expansion of the Dikir Barat by experimenting with style and new mediums of performance. Still, it was always the deep grain of his voice which left audiences "entranced."
He remained active, performing, teaching and ensuring the transmission of Dikir to a younger generation of performers till his passing on 17.09.2011, so that every contemporary performer of Dikir can trace his lineage to Daud Bukit Abal whom they, and the vast Dikir audience in Kelantan and elsewhere, still embrace, with the deepest veneration, as 'The Godfather of Dikir Barat.' - Eddin Khoo (Pusaka)
Video by Indrani Kopal
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