Tue, Jan 09, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Octogenarian gains popularity singing on karaoke machine outside 7-Eleven

By Hung Jui-chin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Eighty-seven-year-old karaoke singer Weng Chu-huang, holding his daily cup of coffee, stands outside a 7-Eleven convenience store in Tainan on Dec. 1 last year.

Photo: Hung Jui-chin, Taipei Times

An elderly Tainan resident has attained local celebrity status after performing karaoke through a portable speaker outside a 7-Eleven convenience store every morning.

Weng Chu-huang (翁築煌), 87, said the daily routine keeps him healthy, requiring him to follow the lyrics written in small letters on his portable player’s screen.

“Training one’s mouth, ears and heart to their best can stave off dementia,” Weng said.

Weng said he sings from 9am to 11:30am on weekdays, always buying a cup of coffee from the store before he starts his performance.

Coffee is also beneficial to his health, as it helps the functioning of the heart and arteries as long as it is not drunk in excess, he said.

Asked why he prefers to sing in front of a store rather than at a park, as is more common among elderly Taiwanese, Weng said: “Because the convenience store has a blood pressure machine. Occasionally I go inside and check my blood pressure.”

Responding to whether he is bothered by strange looks from passers-by, he said: “Life comes down to people always coming and going, it is like a dream. Everyone needs to find their own happiness, you cannot let the younger generation fret over you.”

Many people know his passion for singing, as he used to perform at community events regularly, Weng said.

He enjoys singing traditional Japanese enka songs the most, which contain sections of long vibratos and high notes, making them challenging to sing, Weng said, adding that he also enjoys the emotionally expressive lyrics of older Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) songs.

Weng said he makes sure not to sing louder than the sound of traffic as not to disturb others.

Weng is friendly to store staff and regulars, and treats everyone like his children and grandchildren, said a part-time store clerk, who is also a student.

Weng often invites people to dinner, they added.

Although there are occasional complaints about Weng singing in front of the store, most people are fine with it and some even stop to chat with Weng, they added.

A man surnamed Chen (陳), who works at a nearby store, said he enjoys walking by the convenience store on the way to work to hear Weng sing.

“It is therapeutic, he has a great voice,” Chen said.

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