Zhou Xuan

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Zhou Xuan
ZhouXuan1.jpg
Background information
Chinese name周璇
PinyinZhōu Xuán (Mandarin)
BornSu Pu (simplified Chinese: 苏璞; traditional Chinese: 蘇璞; pinyin: Sū pú)
(1918-08-01)August 1, 1918
Changzhou, Jiangsu, China
DiedSeptember 22, 1957(1957-09-22) (aged 39)
Shanghai, China
Other namesWang Xiaohong (former)
Zhou Xiaohong (former)
OriginShanghai
OccupationSinger, actress
Years active1932–1954
Genre(s)Shidaiqu
Spouse(s)
Yan Hua
(m. 1938; div. 1941)

Tang Di (m. 1951–1952)
Partner(s)Shi Hui (1947–1948)
Zhu Huaide (1948–1950)
Children
  • Zhou Min (son), with Zhu Huaide (?)
  • Zhou Wei (son), with Tang Di
Also known asGolden Voice (Chinese: 金嗓子; pinyin: Jīn sǎng zi)

Zhou Xuan (Chinese: 周璇; pinyin: Zhōu Xuán; born Su Pu simplified Chinese: 苏璞; traditional Chinese: 蘇璞; pinyin: Sū pú; August 1, 1918 – September 22, 1957), also romanized as Chow Hsuan, was an iconic Chinese singer and film actress. By the 1940s, she had become one of China's Seven Great Singing Stars. She was the best known of the seven, nicknamed the "Golden Voice", and had a concurrent movie career until 1954. She recorded more than 200 songs and appeared in over 40 films in her career.[1]

Early life[edit]

Zhou was born Su Pu (蘇璞), but was separated from her natural parents at a young age and raised by adoptive parents. She spent her entire life searching for her biological parents but her parentage was never established until after her death.[2]

According to later family research, a relative who was an opium addict took her at the age of 3 to another city and sold her to a family named Wang, who named her Wang Xiaohong. She was later adopted by a family named Zhou, changing her name to Zhou Xiaohong.[3]

At the age of 13, she took Zhou Xuan as her stage name, 'Xuan' () meaning beautiful jade in Chinese.

Career[edit]

A hand-coloured photo of Zhou in the 1930s.

In 1932, Zhou began acting as a member of Li Jinhui's Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe. When she was fourteen, she won second prize in a singing contest in Shanghai and was given the nickname "Golden Voice" (金嗓子) for her effortless high-pitched melodies.[1]

Zhou began her film career in 1935, and she achieved stardom in 1937 when director Yuan Muzhi cast her as one of the leads as a singing girl in Street Angel. Zhou rapidly became the most famous and marketable popular singer in the gramophone era up to her death, singing many famous tunes from her own movies.

Between 1946 and 1950, she often went to Hong Kong to make films such as "All-Consuming Love" (長相思), "Hua wai liu ying" (花外流鶯), Sorrows of the Forbidden City, and "Rainbow Song" (彩虹曲). After introducing "Shanghai Nights" (夜上海) in 1949, Zhou returned to Shanghai. She spent the next few years in and out of a mental institutions owing to frequent breakdowns. Through the years, Zhou led a complicated and unhappy life marked by her failed marriages, illegitimate children, and suicide attempts. Zhou's first husband was the composer Yan Hua (严华, 1912-1992), who wrote and sometimes also performed songs with her.

Having made a total of 43 movies, her favourite film was always Street Angel. This contained two theme songs: "Four Seasons Song" (四季歌) and "The Wandering Songstress", which enjoyed long-lasting popularity.[3] Other well-known songs by Zhou Xuan include "When Will You Return?", "Shanghai Nights" (title song from the film of the same name), "Yellow Leaves Dancing in Autumn Wind" (黃葉舞秋風), "Forever Smile" (永遠的微笑), "Hundred Flower Song" (百花歌), "Advice" (叮嚀), "Where Can the Soul Mate be Found" (知音何處尋), and "Picking Betel Nuts" (採檳榔).

Death[edit]

In 1957 she died in Shanghai in a mental asylum at the age of 39 during the Anti-Rightist Movement.[4] A possible cause of death may be encephalitis following a nervous breakdown. Zhou's diary concluded that she suffered from cerebritis.

Zhou Xuan was survived by two sons, Zhou Min[5] and Zhou Wei, born of different fathers. Zhou Min was widely believed to be the son of the businessman Zhu Huaide, who left for Shanghai in 1960 after Zhou Xuan entrusted him with her savings and never returned, Zhou Min was born on that same year.[6] According to her elder son Zhou Min's biography, her younger son, Zhou Wei, was the son of the art designer Tang Di (唐棣), while Zhou Min himself did not know who his biological father was.

Zhou Wei currently lives in Toronto performing at times in the TTC subways, and participating in various musical projects, including teaching. He is known as a flautist.[7][8] He has two daughters, both musicians. The elder of the two, Zhou Xiaoxuan, is a classical pianist trained at Concordia University and now living in Beijing.

Cultural legacy[edit]

To this day, Zhou Xuan's songs still remain a staple in many Golden Oldies collections in Mandarin popular music.

There have been two biographies written by Zhou Xuan's surviving family members. The book My Mother Zhou Xuan (我的媽媽周璇) was written by Zhou Wei and his wife Chang Jing (常晶); while a later book, Zhou Xuan Diary (周璇日記), was written by Zhou Min.

Television[edit]

Zhou Xuan

An adaptation of the life of Zhou Xuan was TVB's Song Bird (1989), starring Adia Chan as Zhou Xuan and Leon Lai as her lover. In this series, Xuan's songs were re-written in Cantonese and sung by Chan. She sang the duets with Lai in the program while under the limits of Crown Records (娛樂唱片). Deric Wan replaced Lai's vocals on the soundtrack album.[citation needed]

Another adaptation, based on Zhou Wei's biography, is the Chinese serial titled Zhou Xuan (周璇), starring Cecilia Cheung. This version of the story was accused by Zhou Wei as a false representation of Zhou Xuan and damaging to the reputation of the Zhou family.[9]

Filmography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Yueh-yu Yeh, Emilie (January 1, 2012). "12. China". In Creekmur, Corey; Mokdad, Linda. The International Film Musical. Edinburgh University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-7486-3476-7.
  2. ^ Lu, Wenjing (April 8, 2004). "周璇身世越发离奇 原名苏璞竟是苏轼后人" [Zhou Xuan's life is even more bizarre, formerly known as Su Pu a descendant of Su Shi]. Epoch Times (in Chinese). Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  3. ^ a b ""Golden Voice" Zhou Xuan". CRI. March 31, 2004.
  4. ^ Atkins, Taylor (2003). Jazz Planet. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-609-3.
  5. ^ Shao, Hua (July 10, 2004). "周璇两儿子爆出几十年恩怨纠葛(图)" [Zhou Xuan's son bursts decades of grudges]. Chinese Business Network (in Chinese). Archived from the original on July 12, 2004.
  6. ^ "The Audience's Love in Old Films – Zhou Xuan - All China Women's Federation". www.womenofchina.cn. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  7. ^ Yao, Shan (April 3, 2006). "越洋连线专访周璇次子周伟:真实的周璇" [Inter-ocean special online interview Zhou Xuan Zhou Zi: the real Zhou Xuan]. Xinhua News Agency (in Chinese). International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
  8. ^ Shenyang Metro Network (December 7, 2006). ""地铁王子" — 周璇之子在加拿大" ["Metro Prince" — son of Zhou Xuan in Canada]. Liao1.com (in Chinese). Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
  9. ^ Chun, Zhang (March 28, 2006). "张柏芝版"周璇"面目全非 周家后人三大不满" [Cecilia Cheung version of "Zhou Xuan", the face of non-Zhou three generations of discontent]. Xinhua News Agency (in Chinese). Archived from the original on February 9, 2013.

External links[edit]