SA DINGDING (China)
WINNER - ASIA/PACIFIC
Given the eternal Afro/Latin bias of Western ears, Asian music in general and Chinese in particular seems to be the 'final frontier' of world music. Photogenic East/West fusionist Sa Dingding is the latest artist to challenge this state of affairs. She may have sold over 2 million albums in South East Asia, but it's too early to say what impact her recent signing to Universal will have.
Born in Mongolia to a Mongolian mother and a Chinese father, she developed an early interest in the 'ethnic minority music' of the region that she heard as a child. 'Before we start to talk, we know how to sing', she says of her formative years. Sa Dingding went on to study the zheng (a 25-stringed Chinese zither), the horse head fiddle and percussion. In 1998, at the age of eighteen, she released her first album, earning the title of 'Best Dance Music Singer' in China, and has since become a well known face on Chinese televison.
Sa Dingding's musical philosophy is very much informed by her studies of Bhuddhism and Dyana yoga. Her recordings make full use of impressive linguistic abilities, featuring lyrics she has written in Mandarin, Sanskrit, Tibetan and the near-extinct Lagu language, as well as an imaginary self-created language which she says is generated from the emotions evoked by the music.
Alive (2007) is her major label international debut and showcases an ethereal but versatile voice in a wide range of settings, with Sa Dingding sharing production credits with her long term musical mentors He Xuntian and Zhang Hongguang. Chinese folk melodies played on zheng, bamboo flute and ma tou qin (fiddle) mesh with electric guitars, keyboard washes and digital beats that suggest the influence of seminal trip hoppers Massive Attack one moment and Tibetan monks the next. As with last year's Chinese nominee Dadawa, there's some controversy over Sa Dingding's use of Tibetan music.
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:
Trefor Goronwy, London, UK
John Hall Enfield UK
Taiwan , Tibetean