Celinedee Matahari
Celinedee Matahari Image Credit: Devadasan K P/Gulf News

Most 15-year-olds are glued to their gadgets or phones, but Dubai teenager Celinedee Matahari walks around with a ukulele strapped around her shoulders.

And while this aspiring French-Indonesian singer and songwriter, with over 114,000 followers on Instagram, waits for her interview, she has already come up with a catchy song about Gulf News. Clearly, she wants to strum her way to superstardom.

"This is what I love! My house has always been filled with music. My dad plays the piano and sings, while my brother plays the piano too. And being born here in Dubai, I get so many great opportunities to follow my dream," said Matahari in an interview with Gulf News.

Celinedee Matahari
Celinedee Matahari Image Credit: Devadasan K P/Gulf News

Often described as the Indonesian Taylor Swift, perhaps due to her commanding vocals, waif-like figure, and poker-straight bleached hair with green highlights, Matahari's voice was a dominant one at the Indonesian pavilion at the now-concluded Expo 2020. She has also performed privately at QE2 and possesses the uncanny ability to sing in Hindi, Arabic, and English.

"This summer, I am heading to Austria for a private birthday celebration. I have always dreamed of my singing taking me to different places around the globe... Performing at the Expo 2020 for four months straight was a memorable experience in my life. I was also selected to sing the UAE National Anthem at the Indonesian pavilion," said Matahari.

But how does she juggle her school and singing aspirations?

Her parents, who are incredibly supportive of her singing ambitions, made the decision to homeschool her after COVID-19. Her mother, a momager-in-the-making, keeps a close eye on her studies and the comments that flood her social media accounts.

"We monitor her social media accounts closely. She mostly sings her heart out, while we keep an eye on the comments she receives. So far, surprisingly, my daughter has only received warm and lovely comments on her singing, and that's heartening," said Matahari's mother, Purwanti Alissa Paille, who accompanied her for the interview along with her husband Frederic Paille and son.

The adage ‘A family who sings together stays happy together’ seems to ring true for this Paille clan.

“My family has been incredibly supportive… I was around five or six when I performed on stage among his co-workers. I love being on stage, and I feel I was born to sing,” said Matahari, who counts UAE talent DJ Bliss, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran as her biggest role models in music.

"I want to be this bridge which connects Indonesia, France, and the UAE through my music and songs," she adds.

ONDXB_DJ Bliss-1574169776211
DJ Bliss is one of Matahari's biggest idols along with Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

While she dreams of collaborating with DJ Bliss someday, Matahari began following Bollywood and Arabic songs when she realised that most of her fan following stemmed from this region and India.

“My mom has many friends who speak Hindi, so I often go to them to learn more about the accents of hit Bollywood or Punjabi songs. I learned ‘Raataan Lambiyan’ from YouTube and got the words right through my mom’s friends. Singing is my true passion, and Dubai has given me a great start,” said Matahari.

So what’s her advice to other teenagers who hope to make a splash in music?

“It’s not going to be easy. It will be a bit challenging, but you have to keep working. And when you put in a lot of work, you will get there eventually. I hope I do. My dream is to collaborate with DJ Bliss and sing at the magnificent Dubai Opera. Take baby steps towards your dream,” said Matahari.