Zhang Qiang: China's 'Disco Queen'

March 21, 2014
Editor: Amanda Wu
Zhang Qiang: China's 'Disco Queen'
Chinese singer attends Real Talk, a talk show of Phoenix New Media (PNM), a global leading new media company, with an integrated platform consisting of Internet portals, mobile channels and video channels. [ifeng.com]

Singer Zhang Qiang has been hailed as China's 'Disco Queen', for releasing more than 20 albums in two years, and setting a sales record of 2.5 million copies in the 1980s.

At the peak of her music career, Zhang chose to study in Australia and later got married.

In late 2013, Zhang returned to public life with her latest album, titled My 80's. In early 2014, Zhang was invited to appear on Real Talk, a talk show of Phoenix New Media (PNM), a global leading new media company with an integrated platform consisting of Internet portals, mobile channels and video channels.

As a pop culture icon of the 1980s, Zhang shared her remarkable memories and emotions from that era on the program. "In the 1980s, all Chinese people were positive in life and worked hard so as to live well," she recalled.

Going Abroad

Driven by the craze of going abroad, Zhang gave up her promising music career to study in Australia in 1986.

Looking back on her choice, Zhang said, "At the time, we were curious about foreign life and looked forward to living in a foreign land. Even when young people looked for partners in marriage, they often asked, 'Do you have overseas relations?' Having overseas relations meant a new lease of life."

Apart from her curiosity about foreign lands, Zhang also wanted to make breakthroughs in her career. "At the time, singers usually reproduced old songs. It was indeed difficult to find a new, fresh song," she explained.

"I thought that studying abroad might bring about opportunities, getting my life to start afresh," added Zhang.

Predicting the Fame of Singer Cui Jian

Zhang started her music career with cover songs which took her to the summit of her career, but domestic original pop music was underdeveloped at the time. Zhang couldn't find any good original songs, so she decided to part with music.

Shortly after Zhang's decision, original music began to take off in China. By chance, Zhang heard singer Cui Jian's first album titled Rock the New Long March at a recording studio.

"At the time, I had decided not to sing any longer. That day, I visited one of my friends at the studio and heard Cui's song. I asked my friend, 'Is this a song off Cui's album?' He answered, 'Yes.' Then I said, 'Cui has a promising future. His age is coming.'"

Cui, better known as 'Old Cui,' rose to fame with his original rock songs in 1986. As one of the first Chinese artists to write rock songs, he is often labeled 'The Father of Chinese Rock'.

At the mention of this experience, a sense of loss showed up in her face. "Life doesn't have to be too glorious. I also made remarkable achievements in my life. Fame is not a big deal. I prefer to be an evergreen, to remain fresh and vital," said Zhang.

Interesting Stories

Zhang grew up in the residential compound of the Chinese Movie Orchestra. Her favorite activities were listening to music in her mother's recording studio, and watching movies shot for the orchestra.

"My mother played the violin in the orchestra. When she accompanied veteran singers Jiang Dawei and Li Guyi to record songs, I would like to sit off the stage," recalled Zhang. "The signer stood in the middle of the stage, facing a band with more than 60 members, with the conductor between them."

"When the parents watched movies shot specially for the orchestra, we children usually took umbrellas there, saying, 'It's going to rain, so we've brought umbrellas for our parents,'" said Zhang.

"The watchman asked us to wait at the door, but we begged, 'The movie is about to end. Please let us in.' The watchman failed to stop us, a small group of children, from rushing inside," she said with a smile.

Looking back on those interesting stories in her childhood, Zhang, who has a deep feelings of nostalgia for her life in the 1980s, talked on and on in a flow of eloquence, bringing old scenes back to life one after another. It seemed, to Zhang at least, as if that age had never drawn to a close.

(Source: ifeng.com/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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