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Singer shines light on Tujia tradition at Cannes festival

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-08 08:04

But Deng also realized that like many other traditional cultures in China, the Tujia heritage faces a decline in the face of modernization of the country.

Young members of the ethnic group are moving to big cities for jobs and gradually becoming part of the urban culture.

"Singing and dancing are related to most aspects of Tujia life. We sing and dance to mark events, such as birth, marriage, death or even building a new house," she says.

Deng came to Beijing to further her studies at the Communication University of China in 2007, when she met veteran Chinese musician Jin Tielin. She learned singing from him.

In her debut album, Tujia Girls, released in 2015, Deng brought in elements of Tujia folk music to express the sadness young women and their parents feel when brides depart their parental homes after marriage. She used the ba shan folk dance in the album, too.

In 2016, she held a charity concert in her hometown and raised more than 1 million yuan ($143,000) for poor families.

Deng will go back to Yichang along with a team to collect ancient Tujia songs, which will be used in a musical.

She also plans to make a movie on the origins of the Tujia people. Both the musical and the movie are scheduled to be released in 2018.

"I want to keep it alive and let it be seen by the world," she says of the Tujia heritage.

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