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On the wings of a songbird

Updated: 2013-06-09 09:01
By Chen Nan (China Daily)
On the wings of a songbird

Sa Dingding's music is inspired by nature. Provided to China Daily

On the wings of a songbird

Grammy stars come to shine

Singer-songwriter Sa Dingding is to hold a live show in Beijing, celebrating the international release of her third album, The Coming Ones.

She has been working with UK bassist and music producer DJ Conrank on the new tunes, which will be presented during the show. The concert will also feature hits from Sa's old albums.

Known for ethereal vocals and fusing traditional folk music with avant-garde interpretation, Sa, 30, won the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award for her 2007 album Alive, which sold more than 2 million copies in Asia.

Each album carries Sa's reflections and emotions, inspired by nature.

Her third album, The Coming Ones, saw her undertake a trip to the mountains and plains of southwest China. Two years ago, Sa set off on an epic journey to capture the music and sounds of the country's past, before they are lost forever.

She began in Chengdu on the edge of the fertile plains in Sichuan province, finishing her trip in Kunming, capturing the sounds that became the inspirational elements for The Coming Ones.

As Sa puts it: "I was inspired to return to the roots of life, to get close to the sky and the earth."

Title song The Coming Ones features guqin, a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument, expressing Sa's idea of letting listeners find their own peace.

Sa's soft voice contrasts with the guqin's hard, male quality, creating an interesting musical harmony.

Another song Like A Shadow is Following You, features the Miao ethnic people from Xiaoshuijing village, on the outskirts of Kunming, Yunnan province.

On the wings of a songbird

The villagers have been Christians for over a century and local customs have remained unchanged. Sa recorded the village choirs' captivating performance of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Initially raised by her grandmother in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia autonomous region, from an early age all she heard was the music of rural China.

Before being Sa Dingding, she was Zhou Peng, studying at the Academy of Arts in Beijing. She released her first album Dong Ba La when she was 18 years old, for which she won the title of China's Best Dance Music Singer.

Moving away from pure pop to embrace the values and influences that were natural to her, Sa re-emerged in mid-2007 with the album Alive that was a combination of Western style electronica and Chinese ethnic influences.

Ever since she appeared with the name Sa Dingding in 2007, she has performed in Mandarin, Tibetan and Sanskrit, and a self-created language.

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