Thu, Jan 04, 2018 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: Puyuma musicians inspired by ancestors

RITE OF PASSAGE:The Puyuma continued to hold their traditional festivals during the Japanese colonial era and never lost their ear for tones and singing, an elder said

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Puyuma dancers perform in Taitung County in this undated photograph. Puyuma singers have brought their community fame by winning 14 Golden Melody Awards.

Photo: CNA

Inspired by the spirits of their ancestors, Puyuma musicians from Nanwang Village (南王) — also known as Katratripul, or Jhihben (知本) — and who are part of Taitung’s Beinan community — have won 14 Golden Melody Awards.

During the Japanese colonial era Puyuma singer Lu Sen-bao (陸森寶), who was also known as BaLiwakes, transcribed ancient Beinan songs so they could be passed down.

In the past, Beinan people only sang at traditional festivals.

Lu’s song Beautiful Rice Grain (美麗的穗稻) was made popular by Puyuma singer Ara Kimbo, who originally gained fame under his Chinese name, Hu De-fu (胡德夫).

During Taiwan’s folk-music movement, Kimbo was hailed as the “father of Taiwanese folk music.”

Wan Sha-lang’s (萬沙浪) Where Does the Wind Come From (風從哪裡來) continued the trend, and folk music became very popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

Singer Kao Tien (高田) entered then-popular television singing competition Five Lights Awards and was awarded the highest recognition five times in a row.

Singer Lai Hsiu-hsing (賴秀星), known by her stage name Tien Chen (甸真), was honored with first place in the Golden Melody Awards.

Puyuma police officer-turned singer Chen Chien-nien (陳建年) — also known as Pur-dur — won the Best Male Singer award at the 11th Golden Melody Awards with his album The Ocean (海洋), defeating other nominees such as Jacky Cheung (張學友) and Wang Lee-hom (王力宏).

Chen’s victory shocked the Puyuma community.

However, he would only rank 26th if he returned to the Puyuma community to sing, said Agilasay Pakawyan — also known as Lin Chih-hsing (林志興) — who was the master of ceremony that evening.

Everyone in the community is a good singer, Pakawyan said.

Along with Chen, Puyuma singers Samingad, Hao-en (昊恩), Jia Jia (家家) and the Nanwang Sisters (南王姐妹花) have won a total nine Golden Melody Awards.

At the 20th Golden Melody Awards ceremony in 2009, the Nanwang Sisters thanked their ancestors for their success.

Their comments moved Beinan elder Chen Kuan-nien (陳冠年), who was watching the ceremony on television, to tears, he said.

The ancestors should be thanked for the Beinan community’s good voice, Chen Kuan-nien said.

During the Japanese occupation, many Aborigines were afraid to practice their traditions, Chen Kuan-nien said, adding that many ritual festivals were stopped.

Only the Puyuma community continued with their festivals, Chen Kuan-nien said.

He said that ancient songs must be sung at festivals — such as the “monkey festival” which marks a Puyuma man’s rite of passage, the women’s “crop-reaping festival,” the “hunting festival,” the annual festival and the “mourning-ceasing festival.”

Puyuma begin singing and developing an ear for music and tones at a young age, Chen Kuan-nien said.

“Two-thirds of us are singers,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) said.

The Katratripulr community has also won five Golden Melody Awards, with its first Golden Melody Award in 2001 bestowed on singer Chen Ming-jen (陳明仁), who won the Best Singing Group Award with his band Peiyuan Shanmao (北原山貓).

At the 28th Golden Melody Awards in June last year, Sangpuy won the Best Aboriginal Singer and Best Album of the Year awards, as well as a technical award for his album Yaangad.

Sangpuy has won four Golden Melody Awards, including Best Aboriginal Singer in 2013.

Sangpuy incorporates ancient tunes with modern melodies, and also performs original music in the Puyuma language.

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