My Family History

Trace your ancestors and then immortalise them!

        Tse Wei ( Zi Wei )  紫薇  13/11/1930 - 04/03/1989

Zi Wei was born on November 13, 1930 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Taiwan, and died of cancer on March 4, 1989. Her real name was Hu Heng. She first came to public attention in on March 26, 1953 when she sang "Evening Primrose" on "Jazz" (People Radio) Taiwan's first live radio music program She was married to a soldier and had two children, and decided to make a career in music to help support her family. She chose Zi Wei as her stage name after the Crape Turtle which is the principle star in the oldest Chinese Astrology – the Zi Wei Dou Shu.


Regular radio broadcasts followed her successful debut. Her sweet, clear, articulated voice soon made her the first Taiwanese singing star to receive international acclaim.  In 1954, she recorded "Green Island Serenade" which became her signature song. She recorded it again in 1958. It was composed by Zhou Rampling with lyrics by Yang Zhengzhuan. Pan Yingjie (潘英傑) or Gao Yudang have also been credited with writing the lyrics.

In 1954, Tsu Wei first sang "Green Island Serenade" which became her signature song.  She recorded it again in 1958. It was composed by Zhou Rampling with lyrics by Yang Zhengzhuan. Pan Yingjie (潘英傑) or Gao Yudang have also been credited with writing the lyrics. They describe a young man's remembrance of his beloved young girl. Political meanings have been given to the lyrics because the actual Green Island lies off the southern coast of Taiwan, and was a place of confinement for political prisioners. So the lyrics were thought by some to imply the homesickness of the prisioners as they looked up at the moon, and remembered their homeland and families across the sea.

The song first became popular in the Philippines, then became popular in Taiwan itself in the early 1960s. Before then, because of political unrest, it had been prohibited by some authorities from being sung! The song was adapted into Cantonese as "The Light of Friendship" (友誼之光), sung by Maria Cordero, for the 1987 film Prison on Fire.

I think that the first video opposite is Zi Wei's original recording of Green Island Serenade, preceding her better known 2nd recording in 1961. It is from her 1958 LP made by Feng Ming Record Company. The strings are more in evidence here - true to the 1950s style - than in her 1961 recording, though her voice here sounds less smooth. The second video opposite is definitely her 1961 recording of the song from her 1961 LP on Four Seas Records.