Friday, March 21, 2008


Song for Tibet

I've been fascinated by new pop-singer Alan Dawazhuoma's single "Ashita He No Sanka" which I'm assuming means "Song for Tomorrow."

Alan hails from Tibet, but studied at the China National Chinese Opera and Dance Drama Company. She was scouted by Avex, the Japanese label for which Koda Kumi sings, and released her first single at the end of last year.

You have to get through the very J-pop beginning to the song, and then, when she wails (starting around 2:25), she really goes for it in that chilling, classical Chinese opera way (the effect of her voice at 5:30 and onward is almost visceral). The blog Channel-Ai gives a lovely, detailed review of the track. In the opening, she invokes the elements----land, sea, nature----then proceeds to point out disasters----global warming----before pointing out that music is shared by all people.

Yes, she has an accent because he is just learning Japanese. And frankly, she's a hell of a lot more talented than that other foreign import, Leah Dizon. Lest you think Alan's high notes are fully processed, here she is live.

Considering the struggles between China and Tibet, perhaps you'll consider supporting Alan's music in some way.

If you haven't had enough, here she is in her comrade outfit and showing off her virtuosic musical skills. The scenery is also gorgeous.

Finally, here is Alan with comrade Han Hong, also ethnically Tibetan. There are so many fascinating things about this video--from the enthusiastic uniform wearing youths, to Han Hong's freakishly musical voice . . . it feels like a rare peek into a true cultural experience.

Please at least listen to 2:48 and then again at 3:51 when Han Hong throws in her embellishments. It's staggering and I'm pretty much to the point where I want to go look for her CD. The quality of her voice and her phrasing are just so extraordinary. It's a kind of singing you would never hear in the west. Did you even know the female voice could do this?

Here's Han Hong singing the same song on her own with subtitles, so you know what she's saying. My favorite thing about this video is the audience--check out their gear. That is pride in fashion.

Han's a bit of an anomoly here -- she's known for her amazing voice, but "unfortunate looks", which is a darned shame, because she's such a force. I think that people like her all the more because she's not "beautiful" and therefore isn't expected to be a good singer. It's at once depressing and uplifting.
Also, you should be able to find Han's music at or any local Chinese music/VCD shop (if there are any!). If you can, find 歌唱 (Gechang), which has 天涯 (Tianya -- the far corners of the earth) in Tibetan. 天路 (Tian Lu), which you linked, is on 感动 (Gandong), in "World music version" and "traditional version".
Alai! Thank you so much for all the information. I'm lucky to live in a place where there are plenty of Chinese CDs. I have heard Han sing Tianya, and loved that too. It would be wonderful to see a DVD as well as her performances are so much fun to watch.

I'm glad she has a career--she does deserve it as she is enormously talented. And she seems very aware of this as well and I like seeing how people respond to her.

Thank you so much for the comments and information. I'm so glad I stumbled across this fantastic singer.
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