Suming performing in Taipei, in 2010
17 July 1978 |
Taitung County, Taiwan
Electronic dance music
|Alternative Chinese name|
Suming Rupi (born 17 July 1978) is an indigenous musician, singer and songwriter from Taiwan. He is a member of the "Lacienci" (拉千禧) age organization (a form of social organization that is characteristic of Pangcah) of A'tolan.
Suming Rupi is a member of the A'tolan community of the Pangcah (also known as "Amis") people, who live in Taitung County. Rupi is his grandmother's given name. He often only goes by his given name "Suming". He is also known as Chiang Sheng-min, his Chinese name. He sees tradition as fashionable and stylish, and often appears in Pangcah traditional dress on stage.
Suming began his music career with the band Totem (圖騰樂團) in 2002. He serves as one of the two vocalists and the main songwriter of the band. Totem won the first prize in the 7th Hohaiyan Rock Festival, which is held annually in Gongliao, Taiwan. Totem released two albums, Over There I Sing (我在那邊唱) in 2006 and Shepherd Boy (放羊的孩子) in 2009, and was nominated for the Best Band the Golden Melody Awards in 2007 and 2010 for both albums. Suming notably used the Pangcah language in rap style in a song "Panay, 19-years-old (巴奈十九)", taken from Over There I Sing. In 2006, the Association of Music Workers in Taiwan listed the song as one of the 10 Best Singles of the year, and Over There I Sing as one of the 10 Best Albums of the year.
In 2010, Suming released an eponymous first solo album, writing 10 out of the 11 songs; all the lyrics are in Pangcah. One reason Suming wrote lyrics all in Pangcah in his 2010 album, Suming, and the attempt to crossover in different music genres is to get the younger generation in his community, who have become fond of Japanese and Korean pop songs, interested in learning their mother tongue. He holds concert/talk tours in Taiwan to raise fund for the annual training of the pakalongay, Pangcah youths between 12 and 18 that are not yet admitted into the age organizations, to obtain basic skills that are required to become Kapah (the young men in age organizations) according to the Pangcah tradition.
According to anthropologist Futuru C.L. Tsai, "It is not the first Amis music album but is the first one attempting to crossover into popular music market in Taiwan, combining indigenous melodies such as Amis polyphony and flutes together with techno-trance, hip-hop, and Taiwanese folk music." The album is well received in the Taiwanese market, entered the KKBOX Western Chart TOP 100 List for 8 consecutive months. Suming received the Best Album and the Best Live Performance at the inaugural Golden Indie Music Award in 2011 for this album and its release party. The album also won the Best Aboriginal Album of the 22nd Taiwan Golden Melody Awards in 2011, and Suming was nominated for the best singer and the Best Album Producer (of all music categories, with Lin, Hui-Bin).
Suming also uses his music as a way to introduce non-indigenous people to indigenous cultures. For example, in "Kapah", a song mixing western electronic dance music and Pangcah lyrics, he evoked qualities considered attractive in young men in the matrilineal Pangcah society – the ability to sing, dance, fish and cook, hard-working and willing to be a team member. The music video of "Kapah" also portrayed elements of Pangcah tradition, including dance steps for Pangcah's traditional festival, and characteristics of the male age organization. When receiving his Best Indigenous Album in the 2011 Golden Melody Award from Ma Ying-jeou, President of Taiwan, he expressed his hope that the Taiwanese audience can become "fans" of indigenous cultures. He urged President Ma to support indigenous culture: "President Ma, we aborigines are 'a blue-chip stock.' Please invest in us. We will develop our own industry."  Anthropologist Futuru C.L. Tsai, specialized in the Pangcah culture, calls Suming's intervention in the contemporary Taiwanese pop music scene an "alternative cultural activism".
Besides his music career, Suming also played in the film Hopscotch and received the "Best New Performer" in 2008 in the Taipei Golden Horse Awards, Taiwan's equivalent to the Academy Awards, for his role in the film.
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