|Country Of origin:||China|
Being the first musical artist from mainland China to release an international album since 1950, Dadawa (born Zhu Zheqin in Guangzhou Province, China, during the early '70s) went to Tibet to draw on that culture for her first record. Dadawa's father was a science editor and she studied to be a teacher, but switched to professional singing in her early '20s. When she entered and won a TV talent contest, composer He Xuntian along with his brother, He Xunyou, discovered her. Under their mentorship she changed her name and was soon performing on television in France, Spain, and Sweden. In 1993, they spent several months in Tibet and in 1994, they started composing and recording.
Warner Brothers International released Dadawa's debut album, Sister Drum, in 1995. On it, the Chinese artist sang her own interpretation of Tibetan music accompanied by drum, horn, and flutes, creating a mystical and ethereal atmosphere. Because of the Chinese government's suppression of Tibet, Sister Drum met with considerable fury from those concerned with the brutal exile of Tibetans and the squashing of its religion. Many felt it was an expression of Han cultural imperialism, finding unbearable insults in Dadawa's wearing a nun's robe on the cover jacket and chanting and mispronouncing sacred mantras accompanied with a pompous orchestral background. This Chinese claim on the traditional Tibetan culture was also haunting to many as it implied the Tibetans are ancient and backward, but not a different country than China. The political overtones were also evident when the single "Sister Drum" came out, showing Dadawa hugging the wall of the Buddhist's sacred temple, Jokhang, a place where even the international media are barred. Perhaps because of the controversy, the album sold over a million copies and gave Dadawa the honor of recording the first international album to come out of China in over 45 years.
Dadawa chose Sire/Electra in the U.S. for her sophomore album, Voices From the Sky, released in February 1998. With her exotic, flexible voice resonating with the help of sustained synthesizers, Dadawa played on the theme of her first album. Tracks included "The Sixth Dalai Lama's Love Song," "Himalayans," and "Melodious Goddess," and was also sung in Chinese with English in the liner notes. It is an album for listening to, for you can neither sing nor dance to it.
The Kiigo label released Dadawa's third album, Yellow Children, in February 2001. The album reflects letting go of the past with songs like "The Sea Is Gone," "The Unknown Father," and "The Child Going Far Away," yet the liner notes indicate it was recorded in 1992. Singing in her native Chinese, Dadawa remains passionate yet strong, while blending with the background of both Asian and Western instruments. ~ Eleanor Ditzel~ Rovi