Mando-pop singer Roger Yang (楊培安) belongs to a special breed of pub-trained crooners who are highly revered on the TV talent show circuit but who have yet to demonstrate the ability to fill venues. Dubbed the “high-register prince” (高音王子) by the media, Yang is known for his powerhouse delivery of inspirational, octave-jumping anthems such as I Believe (我相信) and See the Whole World (看見全世界), chosen as theme songs for a Taiwan Beer advertising campaign and the 2009 Kaohsiung World Games, respectively.
On Wednesday, Yang will test his commercial appeal by holding his first large-scale solo concert — Roger Yang: 2010 Back to the Ego (楊培安【2010 Back to the Ego:回歸自我】演唱會) at Legacy Taipei.
Yang will be putting his story to music — his 12-year struggle on the pub circuit before landing a record contract and the release of his debut album at the age of 35.
“I want to present my story,” Yang, now 39, said in an interview. “I’ve always believed that, besides hitting the right notes, music has to tell a story for it to linger in audiences’ hearts.”
Yang won the best vocalist award at the Yamaha National Pop Music Contest at the age of 19. At the age of 23, he started performing as a pub singer in Kaohsiung. “Those years in the pubs were formative because I was immersed in a lot of music,” he said. “In southern Taiwan’s pubs, we often had to continue singing when fights broke out in the audience or sometimes even when people pulled out guns. It was scary at the time, but fun thinking back on it.”
Acclaimed for his Mariah Carey-esque multi-octave delivery, Yang considers himself blessed. “I was lucky because after puberty, I didn’t lose my higher registers but instead broadened my range by gaining some lower registers.”
“When my friend Chen Kuo-hwa (陳國華) contacted me to tell me that his label wanted to sign me, I was initially hesitant,” Yang recalled. “I told them I don’t have the looks or the networking skills. All I have is this voice. It turned out that they wanted this voice, so I became a record newbie at the age of 35.”
Yang released his debut album 2AM After Midnight (午夜兩點半的我) in 2006 and has gone on to release two more studio albums. His live album 10,000 Thanks ... Live & More garnered him a nomination for best male Mandarin singer at the 2008 Golden Melody Awards, the same year he served as a judge on the hit TV talent show One Million Star (超級星光大道).
Yang became friends with Ricky Hsiao (蕭煌奇) while performing in Kaohsiung’s pubs. The two later joined forces to stage the best-selling joint tour Ricky Hsiao & Roger Yang 2008 Tour (蕭煌奇 & 楊培安 2008巡迴演唱會). “As soon as I heard Ricky’s voice, I was bowled over by his passion,” Yang said.
“Even though Ricky is blind, he doesn’t let anything get in his way,” said Yang. “His optimistic and warm personality has affected my outlook a lot. We chat on MSN every day.”
“For my future albums, I would love to try recording with a live band because that’s the most real and direct experience,” said Yang. “Even though there will always be some minor flaws, that will only make it more human.”