Melaka’s unsung hero Pop Moissinac bids us farewell

Pop was well liked, much respected and will be warmly missed by many.

By ANN MARIE CHANDY

Folk-pop singers like Melaka’s Hilary James Moissinac, more fondly known as “Pop” to everyone, are a rare breed these days. Amiable, well-respected, talented – they sure don’t make them like they used to. Which is why Pop’s recent passing is such a great loss, one that has reverberated throughout the Eurasian community and music scene. 

Pop Moissinac passed away on Monday due to health complications. He was 73 years old.

“I will always remember his smile and his friendliness,” said 70s pop singer Royston Sta Maria (of Roy&Fran fame), currently based in Perth, Australia, who remembers that both Pop and he attended the same school, St Francis Institution, in Melaka in the 1960s. 

“I grew up listening to musicians like Pop, my senior at school by a few years, and Don Beins. I was greatly influenced by their musical talents and certainly learnt quite a bit just from watching them perform,” Sta Maria said, adding that he last met Pop (and was really honoured to perform) at a concert to raise money for their beloved school together with several other musicians. “We managed to raise a quarter million dollars. Pop was a big guy with an even bigger heart. Rest in peace, Pop!”

Beins, an SFI alumnus and fellow musician, also mentions Pop’s happy disposition: “He always had a smile on his face,” he shared. “People loved him.”

Pop … back in the day.

Beins reminisced that Pop started off his career with the popular Melaka band Ghost Riders in the 1960s, before branching out to play in various two and three piece bands over the years. 

On the keyboards he could play a bit of everything, from Branyo – Jinkli Nona and the like, to R&B, and all the latest pop songs, songs that made people want to dance like the Cha Cha, and slow dance tunes. Up to when the pandemic put most musicians careers on hold, Pop had been a regular feature at the Malacca Club Rotunda in Tanjung Kling, on Sundays from 6pm to 10pm. 

Portuguese community leader and activist Michael Singho shared that he had known Pop for a long time more as a member of the community than close friend. “I was not among the fraternity of musicians like he was, and I left Melaka for KL during my early adulthood. Still I know him as a very affable person, a good Catholic, a veteran, consummate musician and a good singer whose delivery of the old standards and songs from the sixties was remarkably memorable.

“He was also very supportive and active in the Church, always willing to give a helping hand and was a mentor to many young, budding musicians. His involvement in music goes back a long time; coming from a music background with the Senior Moissinac (Pop’s pop Theodore) being a musician himself and the Instructor of the St. Francis Church Choir. Pop’s  brother, Emile, was a Radio 4 veteran DJ and also a singer-musician.”

Pop was a mainstay at weddings in Melaka.

Singer Lyia Meta remembers growing up listening to Pop. “He would sing during weddings held at The Town Hall in Melaka Town. Pop was the staple musician for weddings and was almost always the band at these events,” she said, adding that a few years ago, Pop’s house burnt down due to an electrical failure. “(My husband) Zack and I were a part of a fundraiser held at the Portuguese Settlement that was organised to help raise funds for him.” 

The year was 2016, and many will remember how, like Lyia and Zack, pretty much everyone in the community rallied round to help out Pop.

“When he lost his house in the fire, the whole community spontaneously came together to chip in so he could rebuild his house. It was not just here in Melaka … but the whole Eurasian diaspora, from KL, Singapore, Australia. It truly showed the measure of the man that Pop was,” said Colin Goh. “He was a wonderful guy, very humble, always willing to do something for you. The community loved him.”

Goh, a history and heritage enthusiast, explains that the Moissinac name has French origins. “Uncle Dodo (as Pop’s father Theodore was fondly known) came from Penang and married into the Dutch Westerhout family here in Melaka.” 

Goh has an extra special memory of Pop – that he was part of the band that played at his wedding reception at the Alor Gajah Town Hall in 1970. Four decades later, Pop was getting the crowd dancing at Goh’s son Daryl’s wedding too!

The Star arts editor Daryl Goh said: “In the Melaka music circles, Uncle Pop has been an unsung hero figure – be it playing the country pop classics of his era in the live scene, or planning a church choir performance. He lived for music and was well-loved by many who knew him down the years. A special memory for me was when he agreed to play at my wedding in Melaka. It was such an honour because he played at my parents’ wedding in 1970. He bridged the generations so effortlessly on stage, and will be sorely missed.”

Pop’s funeral takes place on Nov 24, 2021 at the St Francis Xavier Church in Melaka, at 10am. The musician is survived by his wife Jennifer Amy Carvalho and children, Trixie Ann, Deana May, and Rueben James. 

18 comments

  1. Adeline Tan

    23 November 2021

    we love you uncle Pop & will miss you. RIP

  2. Agnes Lopez

    23 November 2021

    Yes. Pop was well loved by everyone who knew him. He was a very good friend, always smiling and cracking jokes when around friends. He was specially active playing the organ and singing as he played during the Saturday Sunset and Sunday 7am Masses. We miss him dearly especially when we attend Mass at St Francis Church. We will miss his loud and beautiful voice singing his favourite hymns. Farewell Pop. God loves you more. All your pains and sufferings are gone. The Lord has opened the gates of Heaven to welcome you and sing for the Lord forever with all the choirs of angels gathered around you. 🙏❤️

  3. Nicholas Aw

    23 November 2021

    Just one word to describe Pop, the unsung hero: “UNFORGETTABLE” – that’s what you are.

  4. Michael Sebastian

    23 November 2021

    Rest in peace, Pop

  5. Jane

    23 November 2021

    Really going to miss him..😭❤May u rest in peace Pop..🙏 I will miss u calling me Lady Jane whenever u see me…

    • Anthony Ng

      23 November 2021

      Rest In Peace POP
      Your class mate of 1963
      Anthony Ng

  6. Imelda Batarina

    23 November 2021

    Pop is like a big brother to me and family. He helped us a lot. I used to be his singer, until i created my own group but we using sequencer. Pop play live and now my daughter Ana was his singer until he stopped doing functions and singing.
    We’re going to miss him so much.
    We love you Pop❤
    Pop rest in peace🙏❤

  7. Terrance Marbeck

    23 November 2021

    Farewell Pop my good friend from my youthful days. You were a truly GOOD GUY. I’m sure you are singing & smiling with the Angel Choir.
    Rest In Peace

  8. Rest in Peace Uncle Pop. Knowing you is my great pleasure. You are a very good hearted and loving person.

  9. Jacqueline Sennyah

    23 November 2021

    He was a gem of a man. He will be remembered by our family because he truly touched our lives with his kindness and love.

  10. Sivarajah Arasu

    23 November 2021

    One cannot find a nicer and most obliging guy than Pop. We grew up as neighbours in Fort Terrace in Malacca in the sixties and he did me the greatest honour by performing at both my daughters weddings in 2008 and 2017

  11. Stephenie

    23 November 2021

    We will always love you and remember you forever Uncle Pop. Rest in Peace. Lots of love from Pat and family.

  12. Alison Barlow

    23 November 2021

    An excellent article, thank you! Everyone who mattered knew Pop; without him Malacca has lost a wonderful human being. Irreplaceable. We will miss you Pop when we are in Malacca again. Pray for us & enjoy your time in Heaven. God only takes the best! Love u xxxxxxxxxx

  13. Nicholas Jeremiah

    23 November 2021

    I wish he can play his organ during mass on Sunday.The way you played is very unique and rarely we can hear on these days. You’ll be miss.
    Rest in Peace,Uncle

  14. Desmond Austin Zuzartee

    23 November 2021

    POP.. THE GENTLE GIANT WITH A HEART OF GOLD AND A SMILE THAT LIGHTS UP YOUR DAY.
    HAVE A MUSICAL JOURNEY TO HEAVEN BROTHER.
    CHIVAS N CHEERS POP

  15. Philip fair

    23 November 2021

    I recall seeing Ghost Riders perform once at the Malacca Club when I was there as a schoolboy cricketer. Didn’t know who was Pop but think heard GR play Out in the Country by 3Dog Night.

  16. Ana Margarita

    23 November 2021

    I won’t forget u Daddy Pop.. lotz of memories together.. It’s been a great honor and privilege to be your singer of our band “The Mellows” from 2004 til 2018.. Everyone thought i am your daughter bcoz u always introduce me to everyone as your daughter wherever we go.. And thank you for being my second father.. Thank you for your advices, for being my mentor and most especially for the unconditional love you’ve given me and my family.. I’m going to miss u Daddy.. I love you always.. Till we meet again 🙏🏻💜

  17. Khoo

    23 November 2021

    Besides your wonderful involvement in the music world, you were good in sports, esp.cricket where I came to know you so well. I will never the friendship, compassion and true sportsmanship in you. RIP

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