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Awards for World Music 2008
Sa Dingding
Sa Dingding album cover

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.

Jon Lusk


Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Her music is very beautiful though a mixed bag of ethnic cultures that also deserve to remain traditionally defined. Her country's politics obstruct the harmonies of her wonderful music.

Tommi Cheah/Malaysia
Very good voice & very good music. Her choreography & choice of artwork is really hauntingly beautiful.

Sa Dingding was born in inner Mongolian which is part of China. Her music is so beautiful. Her voice will be heard by west,hopefully more knowledge about Chinese multiple culture. Tibetan-Chinese,Han-Chinese,Mongolian-Chinese are all part of Chinese culture

Ken, Liuzhou
Almost no one in China has heard of her and the album is very difficult to find. I had to get mine in Hong Kong.

Trefor Goronwy, London, UK
The sound world she draws on is rich in possibilities, so it is a great shame to see it merely being used to provide an "exotic" backdrop to yet more tedious pop.Nice voice though. But then she wouldn't be here if she didn't have one.Enigma with a pretty face and a touch of songwriting. Vastly more listenable than the crud churned out all day on the sub-MTV freeview channels, but if it's making any claims to being anything more than that it falls far short of the mark.

nikos GREECE
congrach!!!! I'm U'r gr8test F@N!!! keep on!!!!!!!

John Hall Enfield UK
Fabulous, has any one else heard a connection between this track in particular and music played by Franco/spanish troubadours?

H Uerslen
I came from inner Mongolia, so know her very well that she is came from Inner Mongolia, a part of China. Mongolia is a independent country. just be clear it again, we are Chinese Mongolian...

Jon London
Music is great and her website is even better.

Taiwan , Tibetean
it's terrible, Sa is wearing the Buddha in her body and she act as a buddha herself.She is ruin our trandition and religion!!!BBC should not support this kind of fake religions music.

Dean, Leicester
Thanks for posting Oldster. It is an amazing mix of mongolian music with electronica.

WANG luo
sa dingding was born in inner mongolia where is part of china, not mongolia.that is very basic.

Alex, China
Certainly an interesting sound, but as stated Chinese music seems to currently be on the outside of popular world music. I think that is quite understandable as long as the BBC continues to focus purely on the obscure Chinese genres rather than Chinese pop, R&B, jazz and hip hop etc. After all, so much of the BBC site is dedicated to modern Indian and south Asian music (Bhangra etc.), it would be nice to see Chinese (and indeed Korean and Japanese) music given the same chance. Perhaps if Chinese talent like Jay Chou, Landy Wen and Naomi Yohani were given the same platform in the west as Latin/African/Indian music, Chinese music would not seem quite so foreign.

in China the alumb has an exclusive artwork than the international versiaon. It's amazing, i mean the music, the artwork,the voice, everything of her. She is such a charming artist!

I bought her album and all I have to say is damn! It's really good if you like to listen to what I call New Modern Music, clash of East meets West, classic asian instruments mixed in with western instruments on top of such a beautiful and powerful voice.

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