Indonesia mourns passing of R&B artist, activist Glenn Fredly

Glenn Fredly, one of Indonesia’s most influential R&B singer-songwriters, passed away yesterday evening at 44 years old. Photo: Instagram/@glennfredly309
Glenn Fredly, one of Indonesia’s most influential R&B singer-songwriters, passed away yesterday evening at 44 years old. Photo: Instagram/@glennfredly309

Glenn Fredly, one of Indonesia’s most influential R&B singer-songwriters, passed away yesterday evening at a hospital in South Jakarta. He was 44 years old.

The singer’s family confirmed to local media outlets that he died due to complications from meningitis. 

“His condition had dropped in the last few days. So the process was, he was admitted to the hospital on Monday, still in the regular room, then the [next] morning his condition dropped and then he entered ICU,” Uci, Glenn’s younger sister, told Kompas today.

In a statement, Glenn’s family thanked fellow musicians as well as the public for their support, and urged them not to attend his funeral due to the ongoing social distancing advisory. He will be buried today at Tanah Kusir cemetery in South Jakarta.

Glenn left behind his wife, dangdut singer Mutia Ayu, whom he married in August of last year, and his daughter Gewa Latuihamallo, who was born two months ago.

Born Glenn Fredly Deviano Latuihamallo to a Moluccan family, Glenn kicked off his musical career as a vocalist in a rock band named Funk Section in the mid ‘90s. After leaving the band, he released his first album GLENN in 1998, when the R&B genre wasn’t popular in Indonesia at that time. His second album, Kembali (Return), was released in 2000, with single Kasih Putih (White Love) bringing him wider recognition.

Glenn’s 2004 album, Selamat Pagi, Dunia! (Good Morning, World!) contained songs that are considered as some of his best today, including Sedih Tak Berujung, Januari, and Sekali Ini Saja.

Glenn is one of the most productive musicians in the country, having released 10 full-length albums, one Christian album, and one compilation album. His latest album, Romansa ke Masa Depan (Romance to The Future), was released in November of last year.

Aside from his solo career, Glenn formed a trio named Trio Lestari with fellow musicians Tompi and Sandhy Sondoro, as well as produced albums for singers such as Yura Yunita. 

Following news of his death, fellow artists took to social media to mourn his passing, including Audy, who was featured in his 2002 single Terpesona.


“He was a very kind man and sincerely wanted to help fix the music ecosystem in Indonesia. [It’s a great] loss. Pray for him,” Singer-songwriter Kunto Aji wrote in a tweet.

Glenn also embarked on a career as a film producer in 2014, mainly working on films by director Angga Dwimas Sasongko. He was involved in the production of football drama Cahaya dari Timur: Beta Maluku and Filosofi Kopi, among others.

“Glenn Fredly is more than his music. Bigger than his concert venues. He brought art and activism to a different level. I watched him beginning from Mentawai to Aru and Papua. From GKI Yasmin church to Moluccan political prisoners. It’s been an honor to move with you, Bung!” Angga tweeted.

Glenn was also involved in various campaigns and social activism. In 2018, he wrote an op-ed calling for the pardon of political prisoners, which was published in The Jakarta Post.

Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer currently in exile in Australia for her work in Papua, took to Twitter to share that Glenn had once offered her assistance and support. 

“I’m really saddened by the passing of Glenn Fredly, an artist with extraordinary talent and humanitarian soul, a best friend to the activists. He twice asked me how he could help when there were mass arrests of Papuan students, on different occasions. Rest in Power,” Veronica wrote.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo also took to Instagram to post his tribute to Glenn, whom he remarked as inspirational.

“The late Glenn Fredly was a young figure who inspired Indonesia’s young generation, especially musicians, due to his dedication to the art that was extensive and deep as a songwriter, singer, and also activist. Glenn Fredly’s passing is a great loss to this nation’s music scene,” Jokowi wrote in the caption.

Many of Glenn’s songs resonated greatly with Indonesians, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, making his passing a great loss across the country. 

“Whoever their romantic partner is, their song is definitely one by Glenn Fredly. Thank you, Bung,” podcaster Iyas Lawrence wrote.

Prior to his passing, Glenn had set up a fundraising effort to help those whose livelihoods are impacted by COVID-19 on Kitabisa, which you can donate to here.


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