The background music playing is Zhang singing Primacaine village girl (1947). It is 256 kbps which is very high mp3 quality. If you wish to stop this music, please go to the foot of this page and adjust the small player accordingly.
Zhang Yi-Wen's real name was Wang Bao-Zhu. She was born in Shanghai in 1927. During the summer of 1946, the northern part of Jiangsu Province suffered catastrophic weather conditions, leading to the displacement of tens of thousands of people. In view of the seriousness and extent of this disaster, the Refugee Relief Association of Northern Shanghai Ways and Means Committee was set up on June 24th. It held various fundraising events, with celebrities and entrepreneurs helping out.
One of the events was "Miss Shanghai", which was held at the New Xianlin ballroom on August 20th. There were various categories, and Zhang was runner-up to Han Jingqing in the singing contest, earning her the nickname "Shanghai's #2". (The voting figures, which numbered many thousands are still on record!) This earned her a contract with EMI (Pathe) to record an album in 1947. Eleven of these songs were included on the Pathé 100 series 06: Zhang Yiwen / Dong Peipe, which was issued in 2005 on cd. 01 distant Send Acacia 02 Weiyun fluttering 03 grinning 04 good girl 05 love 06 to tour peony 07 wandering 08 funeral flowers 09 Primacaine village girl 10.I met him loved him 11 floral difficult than the daughter of incense. Her song "Miss Shanghai" is not on the Pathe collection, but was recorded at the time of the 1947 album on EMI 35672. The song became a big hit and Zhang was on her way!
The song itself celebrates the qualities of Shanghai Women, and the lyrics are "politically correct", in accordance with the furore caused by Shanghai's first ever beauty contest, which was one of the categories of "Miss Shanghai". Everyone from politicians and entertainers to ordinary citizens expressed their opinions. The idea of a swimsuit section was particularly unacceptable to most chinese people. Eventually a compromise was reached, where an emphasis was put on other qualities desirable in a young lady besides just physical beauty. In a photo of the beauty contest, there only appear to be twenty participants, though originally there were thirty-eight.
Such was the interest in the whole event, and the controversy caused by the beauty contest itself, that there is much documentation available at various websites. Suffice to say that this was a landmark in both Shanghai and Chinese Society, and the next three years saw the entertainment industry in Shanghai at its peak, particularly the music. The political events of 1949 would soon put an end to the city's so-called decadence.
Twenty-one years later, in Hong Kong, she recorded "Miss Hong Kong" which has almost identical lyrics except for a few words. Shanghai is replaced by Hong Kong, just as it would be in her own life and the lives of many of her contemporaries. Here is a translation of the Miss Shanghai lyrics:
Shanghai is the Metropolis of the East - With Shanghai ladies so charming - Forward-thinking, physically fit and strong - Brave, lively and intelligent - Working hard to transform this new era - Women who strive for glorious honour - Shanghai is the metropolis of the East - Shanghai ladies so charming.
Zhang relocated to Hong Kong just before the Communist takeover in 1949, and continued her career there, establishing a reputation that allowed her to sing in many of the premier nightclubs of the city. She recorded several songs for the Great Wall Record Company during the early 1950s. In 1953 she was featured in the film Love Song (戀歌) singing the song "You're in My Dreams" (到我夢中). In 1963 she was forced by a serious sickness to put her career on hold for two years before returning. She recorded several albums on Columbia during the late 1960s, and early 70s, in what was a golden period for her. At the age of forty, she had never sounded better. Thank you to http://blog.roodo.com/macaenese5354/archives/16821081.html for much of the information about her Hong Kong recordings. An invaluable resource for fans of Zhang.
In 1970 she opened a singing school, sharing her experience with the new generation of performers. Her voice has been described as a blend of Bai Hong, Ouyang Fei Orioles, and Wu Ying-yin, during her Shanghai days, developing to a style more akin to Yao Li and Zhang Lu during her Hong Kong period. An interesting set of comparisons, and just listening to her version of 'Alishan Girl', I think she must have been an inspirational teacher. Her late 1940s Shanghai work, and then her late 1960s Hong Kong work showed her versatility. I would love to have attended her school!
In 1990 she broke her pelvis, making her immobile, and in July 1995, she died due to an unspecified illness. One of China's great singers.
Her recordings and sleeves (in order) from 1968-1972. Thank you to http://blog.roodo.com/macaenese5354/archives/16821081.htm.
Happy Birthday. Wish Christmas (Columbia Records - 1968/MSEP-1007)
1.O Holy Night, Silent Night 2.Christmas Ringtones Jingle Bells
Second side 1.Birthday song Happy Birthday To You 2.Good Luck, Good Health, God Bless You
Wang Zhaojun (Columbia Records - 1968 69/MS-1016)
1.Midnight kisses The second side
2.The Dependent 1.Miss Hong Kong
3.Lovers' Bridge 2.The distant Send Acacia
4.Starry night 3.Blue Bridge Dream
5.Wang Zhaojun 4.Probe lover
6.Hangzhou girl 5.Wang Zhaojun
Mayer sound everywhere to smell (Columbia Records - 1969 70/MS-1022)
Ungrateful (Columbia Records - 1969 to 70 / MS -1038) 1971
1.The Ungrateful the people 1.Asked Baiyun
2.Thoreau Riverside 2.Alishan girl
3.Blue melancholy 3.Memorable kiss
4.Grape Fairy 4.Off Dana Merah
5.Meet the night 5.Love You Deeply
6.The suction bottles of soda 6.Tonight is the adventure
Tears of rain the (Mandarin Records - MR-1011) 1972
1.Tears rain 1.The Ungrateful the people
2.Acacia inch of tears 2.Last night when you wake up
3.Monthly child like lemon 3.Do not abandon me
4.Good night can not stay 4.You Come Again
5.Voice of the tears 5.Let me go
6.Journeying 6.Wang Zhaojun
People who have no conscience (Great Wall LP / CSLP-8023) 1971
1.The conscience 1.Acacia infinite Love Without End
2.A water separated the End of the World 2.Girls Are to get married
3.Love and hard to defend 3.Love illusory between
4.The butter drizzle Like Wind 4.Rose everywhere open lyrics
5.Unlimited Acacia infinite melancholy 5.Twilight small singing
6.Do not abandon me 6.Acacia inch of tears
Zhang at You Tube
The first video opens in a new window at You Tube. The others play here.
Zhang Yiwen - Miss Shanghai 1947
Miss Hong Kong 1968
Valentine's Bridge 1968
Alishan Girl 1969 (note her 'wild' middle section in song)
Midnight Kisses 1968
Blue Melancholy 1969