My Family History

Trace your ancestors and then immortalise them!

          Guo Lanying  郭兰英 ( 郭蘭英 ) December 1929 -

Guo Lanying 郭兰英 was born on December 1929 in Pingyao, Shanxi. She is a noted Chinese operatic soprano best known for singing patriotic songs such as "My Motherland" (1956) and "Nanniwan" (1943).

She was born into a poor family, and began studying Shanxi bangzi, a form of local opera, at the age of six. She performed with the local theatrical troupe in Taiyuan, the provincial capital, at the age of 11. In the 1940s, she majored in opera at North China United University (华北联合大学), and performing with that university's Song and Dance Troupe. With that troupe, she performed many dance dramas.

Following the Chinese Revolution, Guo became the chief performer in the Song and Dance Theatre of the Central Conservatory of Music, Central Experimental Opera, and China Opera House. She played the leading roles in many new operas, including The White Haired Girl and The Marriage of Little Er Hei. In the 1960s she appeared in the film The East Is Red.

Along with the singer Wang Kun, she was a member of the first generation of Chinese performing artists to train overseas. She visited the Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Italy, Japan, and other nations. Guo retired in 1982, continuing to teach at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing. In 1986 she established the Guo Lanying Art School in Guangdong.

"Nanniwan" - literally: "South Muddy Bend" -  is a revolutionary song written in 1943 with lyrics by communist playwright and poet He Jingzhi and music by Ma Ke. It was made popular by the Communist Party of China and continues to be one of the most recognisable songs in the People's Republic of China.

Nanniwan is a gorge about 90 km southeast of Yan'an, Shaanxi province. In response to economic blockades by the Imperial Japanese Army and Kuomintang in 1941, the Communists set up an Opium production committee with Ren Bishi as its head and began experimenting with small scale agricultural development as well as poppy production in a bid to become self-sufficient. The 359th brigade of the Eighth Route Army was deployed to Nanniwan to improve productivity. In 1943 Nanniwan was heralded a success, and a propagandist song was commissioned.

The song rose during the last years of the Second Sino-Japanese War and continued to be popular after the Communist victory in 1949. It is the signature song of the important revolutionary singer Wang Kun, and Cui Jian, widely regarded as the "father of Chinese rock," He created a rock music version of the song in 1991.