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March 25, 2010

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From timid kid to songstress

ONE of China's rising pop stars is a local Shanghai girl, Huang Ling, who once was painfully shy and withdrawn, reluctant to talk in front of strangers. Her parents sent her to a sports school to encourage her to be more outgoing.

The girl with Oriental "phoenix eyes" has come a long way.

She, who won a local singing competition at the age of 16 and rose to fame with her first album "Itch" (2007), is about to release her second album in May and cooperates with the fashion brand Shanghai Tang.

Huang, 23, is also known for a bit of old Shanghai style in her performances, her costumes and makeup, as well as a 30s-feeling to some songs. She also sings old songs, such as "Rose, Rose, I Love You" and "Ye Lai Xiang."

Today Huang is poised, confident and talkative, but as a girl Huang was extremely introverted.

"My parents sent me to a sports school to play volleyball in middle school because they wanted me to be more bouncy and brave," she recalls. "I used to be too shy and wasn't even brave enough to speak in front of strangers."

During three years in a sports school, her friends encouraged her to sing for them and enjoyed her sweet voice.

"After that I started to dare to sing aloud and found that I could sing," says Huang.

When she was 16, she joined a small local singing competition. She remembers it vividly.

"There were so many people and not enough time, so everyone could only sing half of a song," she says.

Huang sang "Past Love" ("Wang Ri Qing") by Taiwanese singer Coco Lee.

"I stood on the stage and asked the judges to give me the chance to complete the whole song," she recalls.

Her brave attitude, sweet voice and natural charisma impressed the judges, and she got her chance to enter show business.

In 2004 she started cooperation with the Shanghai To-Wing Culture Development Co.

Her first album "Itch" ("Yang"), released in 2007, combined rock, blues, R&B, as well as some old Shanghai songstress elements.

"As a new singer, I'm not afraid to try all styles in developing my own music style," says Huang.

The album recently received the "Golden Album" award from the Chinese Album Association in Beijing. Huang performed at the awards ceremony in January.

"I am happy with this major award and I'm confident and proud of the album. My team is really talented and deserves the award."

In her album "Itch," many songs have become signature melodies, such as "Aihiba," "High Song," "Miss You Along," "Rose, Rose, I Love You," "Itch" and "Red Eyes."

Some songs like "Itch" are performed in music competitions.

"They are great, but I think I am still the best one to sing these songs, because they are my songs, and I have more understanding of them and better skills to present them," says Huang.

She likes Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.

Her Chinese idols, teachers and friends include Chang Shilei, the composer and original singer of "You and I," (Beijing Olympic Games theme song), and Shanghai independent pop musician Wang Hao.

Huang is taking singing lessons and working hard on composing, playing guitar and piano.

Huang prefers writing sad songs, though her music covers a full range of emotions and life of young Chinese today.

"I hope I can develop into a really talented singer and songwriter who can give live shows playing the guitar or piano," she says. "I want to present my moods and my life through my songs."

Her Chinese-style look and the old Shanghai elements in her music attracted the attention of fashion brand Shanghai Tang.

Huang has performed at Tang's commercial events in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.

"I hope I can cooperate with some brands of musical instruments, so I can get more sponsors to make my music," she says.

Huang will go to Taiwan next month to film the music videos for her new songs, and will perform on some TV shows.

She also plays a role in the local stage drama "Master Hongyi," which toured China last year and will be staged again this year.

When she isn't working, Huang enjoys playing with her dog, going to the gym and playing snooker.


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