China – A Great Singing Nation

China – A Great Singing Nation

By Paul Chong

Lin Miaoke Beijing Olympics Singer

The lip-synced girl, Lin Miaoke, who sang in the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony now has every potential in $$$ making; few movie directors in Hollywood hunting her out. The actual singer Yang Peiyi is virtually in the back stage.


The whole nation sings

The Minorities


The Majority

The illustrative display of the photos taken directly off the satellite TV with my little digital camera shows & verifies the truth that China is a great singing nation. On the stage comes a galaxy of singing stars, both male & female, known by the thousands & millions throughout China, though maybe little heard of in the western world. In all their brilliance & golden voices, they thrill & enthral the teeming audience in the thousands & millions. With shouts, cheers & tears they raise their hands & flags of all colours flying high. Truly a colourful event to celebrate the 60th. Anniversary of the founding of this new great ancient nation. This is a nation where everybody sings – young or old, rich or poor, male or female, indoor or outdoor, professional or amateur, from native folk songs, pop or rock to the very high class of opera – Chinese or Western. Singing could be backed up by a full orchestra or just simple musical instruments.


In terms of sheer numerical numbers, no other nations in the world can compare!

There is no shortage of talents with a pool of 1.3 billion population neither is there any lack of singing contests, festivals or celebrations to put the whole nation to songs! Often the audience would sing along as with the more popular tunes.

SANY2112On an amateurish basis, some may even be professional, Karaoke is very popular in China. Karaoke provides an excellent avenue for social life at home, bars or karaoke houses known as “KTVs”, & for business entertainment between suppliers & customers. Good deals are often sealed & there’s no shortage of attractive hostesses helping out in the entertainment. For the uninitiated this could be a daunting experience.


Audience of young girls singing in  unison with the star performer on stage.




More matured audience with red flags in hand

Pictures Below:

A male singer rendering a popular number.

A female performer

October 1 2009 is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People?? Republic of China (PRC) and Beijing will host a grand celebration.

Karaoke Extravaganza

Karaoke Extravaganza

IMGA Galaxy of Stars

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” – Psalm 96:1

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” – Psalm 63:5

( The word “Psalms” come from the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament where it originally referred to the stringed instrument like the harp, lyre and lute and then to songs sung with their accompaniment.)

Biblically, the word “sing” occurs some 32 times, most frequently being in the Psalms. For the romantics, you are probably more familiar with this saying “if music be the food of love play on.” It ‘s been said too that a merry heart is good medicine for the soul. No doubt, music has a way of melting even the most savaged hearts and changing lives. Therefore, sing and be happy!

Karaoke is a Japanese tradition, which has come to capture the minds and hearts of men all over the world. The Japanese word “Karaoke” literally means “empty orchestra”. The pastime has become so popular that it is listed in the latest editions of both Japanese and English dictionaries.

China is a singing nation. You’ll only have to watch CCTV on satellite TV to astound yourself with the galore of singing stars, both amateur & professional, young & old, vying to be heard. Just about everyone sings! From the pure basic home entertainment, bars & the stage, singing range from the traditional folk or classic, modern tunes, pop & rock to the very classic of Eastern & Western opera. Whenever & wherever festivals reign, singing grips the mind & hearts of people without restrain!

Karaoke is the ultimate “family friendly” form of entertainment. No doubt it is prevalent in bars and taverns and restaurants, especially some Chinese restaurants. Anyone can sing along to karaoke. A wide range of songs and music are available with lyrics and tempo indication to guide you along. Karaoke is always good for a laugh if you are plain amateurish. Some Karaoke singers are really “professional” and as with a few doctors and dentists known to me, they not only sway your hearts and minds but also provide you with something that no medicine can buy!

Often home parties are lavished with delicious home cooked foods and the rotation of hosting such parties, eagerly awaited for, is unending and more frequent than your social calendar can hold. With good food, good fellowship and good entertainment, what better alternative is there? The very serious enthusiasts go for voice training and professional coaching. We are never short of talents comparable to such singing greats as Teresa Teng, Anita Mui or Elton John and Elvis. For the more conservatives, Pat Boone, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and others are among the favourites. Some home groups like to sing Mandarin or Cantonese songs while others are more inclined to sing in English. Tribute must also be given to the Filipinos, the Burmese and Karens and Indonesians, for they’re known traditionally to be more singing oriented.

IMG_0001Truly Professional Stars

With the affordability and availability of DVD players, karaoke has come a long way from Japan’s Kobe City some 20 years ago . . . from long playing tapes, cassette tapes, big laser discs, VCDs to DVDs. Who knows what the future has in store with the rate of technological advances and computerisation.

Karaoke is good clean fun – an enjoyable form of cheap entertainment. It is an excellent way of bringing people together and keeping families together. Get goofy and sing off-key! Who cares! But just don’t “expire” and be interred with your bones with the best music waiting to be sung! You may yet be a singing great waiting to be head hunted by talent scouts from Hollywoods!

My only lament is that there is a lack of good Christian Karaoke VCDs or DVDs. Churchgoers sing in churches and when at home singing stops. You should have no fear or qualm singing to the LORD, for He loves you singing praises unto Him, just like King David did. Yes, sing to the LORD with a new song!

Karaoke Lunch

Sing & Be Happy!

Paul Chong

A Karaoke Enthusiast

Related Posts: Chinese Opera Stars Coming Of Age

Chinese Western Opera Stars Coming of Age

Chinese Western Opera Stars Coming of Age

Most of the average men & women in the street have never been to a night at the opera, or stepped into the grandeur of the Opera Houses in the world like The Vienna Opera House, Royal Opera House Covent Garden London, Paris National Opera House, Metropolitan Opera House New York, or the Sydney Opera House. A night there in any of those Opera Houses with real life tenors, sopranos, altos & contraltos will be a lifetime experience.

3491119840_f434542623Vienna Opera House

However, in modern times, with the availability of the multi-media, we have been privileged to hear “The Three Tenors” in the persons of Luciano Pavarotti (deceased), Jose Carreras & Domingo. The appearance of the three great tenors singing together has contributed much to the popularity of the opera. Most people are also familiar with The Phantom of the Opera, the stage musical & movie made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The original novel by Gaston Leroux tells of a disfigured musical genius (Gerald Butler) who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House.

My romance with the opera stretched back to my early school years in Taiping, Malaysia where we were taught simple appreciation of the classical music. Names of Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli & Björling, the legendary three tenors, come to mind vividly. Caruso with his famous rendering of Verdi’s Rigoletto “La Donna e Mobile” (better known in English as “Woman is Fickle”) was featured in a film by Mario Lanza. As a school cinema operator, with the carbon arc screening 35 mm projector, which by now must be long obsolete, I used to enjoy such great musical shows, and would you believe it, I used to have the voice of Caruso in the my ancient “wire recorder”- a souvenir from the war years.

This afternoon, Hunan Satellite TV presented a tremendous opera program featuring three tenors & three sopranos who have made their talent felt on the world stage. They were demonstrating the unique style of opera singing and what a difference with the conventional pop singing.

Australia’s answer to the famous Three Tenors are the Chinese Trio – Hao Zhou, Stephen Wu & Shidi Chen who came together in early 1990s and were first invited to sing as part of Sydney’s bid for the 2000 Olympics. Since that time the group has performed across Australia as well as in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. They have migrated to Australia charming & amazing audiences with their songs in Italian, French, German, English and Chinese, all in the one program.


It’s universally contended that authentic western opera can only be found in Europe. But another tenor Ding Yi has broken both the tradition & the mould. He’s made a place for himself on the world stage, while maintaining his strong foothold in his native mainland China. It’s been a long hard road.

Born of a composer father & a soprano mother . . . the teacher was telling him he lacked the talent to be a good opera singer. Doctor told him he should stabilize his voice with controlling his Adam’s apple.

“Concert of Chinese and Foreign Classic Songs” was performed at the Shenzhen Grand Theatre. Of the dozen singers, the most admired was Ding Yi, a tenor who the MC said is the No 1 singer at the Central Opera House in Beijing. He was certainly good. He and another soprano, Ma Mei (who was great too) wound up the concert with a duet from the famous Madame Butterfly.

Opera Arts described him as “a tenor that has made Italian directors sit up.” He has numerically represented China on the world stage & winning awards & praiseworthy criticism. At home, he is equally in demand whether it’s public or charity performance.

China with a pool of 1.3 billion people & millions taking up music, it goes without saying how much more impact the Chinese tenors & sopranos will have on the world stage. It will only be a question of time.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Friday, 17 July 2009