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Alena Murang

Alena Murang Biography

Alena Murang is an international artist from Sarawak who delves into her native heritage throughout her work. The first professional female sape’ player, she sings in the endangered Kenyah & Kelabit languages – original songs and ones that have been passed down to her. 

Deeply influenced by the lives of her ancestors, coupled with influences of rock and folk, her shows are a journey of past and present, along the mighty Baram river that runs from the coast to the highlands of Borneo, through the world’s oldest rainforest. 

Performing across the world, she aims to share the stories of her people. 

“Alena Murang’s songs evoke both the mystery of a faraway people and instant identification with their reverence for the sky”

– World Listening Post


Famed as a sape’ songstress, Alena sings in the endangered Kenyah and Kelabit languages and is the first woman to professionally play the lute instrument of the highland tribes of Borneo. Alena has carried the enchanting sounds of the sape’ to over 20 countries, from Iceland to Australia to Thailand to the USA. Also a visual artist, her artwork is inspired by her Dayak Kelabit heritage. Alena’s pieces have been showcased in venues across Taiwan, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur. 

Alena’s place in the music sphere is a unique one. Standing in the intersection of the past and the present, Alena’s songs transcend the borders of traditional and contemporary art schemes, producing soundscapes that are a medley of traditional Dayak tones and rhythms of the 21st century. She sees herself first as a storyteller and expresses her words not only through contemplative music but also through video production which is apparent in her music videos Midang Midang and Warrior Spirit.

Alena’s art, songs and tones are wholly intentional, pulling from the Kelabit stories of her community. For Alena, her art isn’t about preserving the Kelabit culture but rather actively living and breathing it through her music.  

Born in Kuching, Sarawak, to a Kelabit father and an English-Italian mother, Alena and her older brother were immersed in a mesh of cultures and environments since birth. With frequent trips to the rural interiors of Sarawak, Alena’s childhood was consumed with long hikes to waterfalls, nights in villages and staying awake through ceremonies. Alena was quick to learn that every rock, tree, mountain, bird, rhythm, and melody had a name and draws from the emotions of nature in her craft.

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