Singer Yao Beina mourned amid controversy

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 20, 2015
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A public memorial service for pop singer Yao Beina was held in Shenzhen on Tuesday after a series of controversies.

File photo taken on Aug. 27, 2014 shows singer Yao Beina at a performance staged in Qiqihar, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. 

The "Let It Go" singer died on Jan. 16 in Shenzhen after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 33.

Hundreds of family members, friends, fans and celebrities showed up at Shenzhen Funeral Home to bid their last farewell to the young star.

"Yao Beina is a fairy. A musical fairy, a singing fairy, an artistic fairy. She always tried to reach high peaks along the path of pursuing the arts," her father Yao Feng said in a teary speech.

"Ten days or 20 days ago, she said to me, 'Dad, I'm not afraid to die. But what will become of my dad and mom after I die?'" Yao recalled. "She always cared about others' feelings and didn’t want to cause trouble to others, including us, her dad and mom."

Yao’s father described her as a "perfect genius" and said his daughter's early passing was a fatal blow to her family.

Pop diva Na Ying, Yao Beina's mentor on the talent show "The Voice of China," also came to pay tribute to the singer. "Knowing she was gone, I felt like I had lost a member of my family. She is a real singer who loves music so much," Na said.

Yao Beina's manager Bo Ning wrote on his blog that Yao's ashes will eventually be taken back to her hometown in Wuhan, Hubei Province. There will be another memorial service for Yao in Beijing in early February. Her label, Huayi Brothers Music, will also release a greatest hits album of Yao’s work along with some unreleased materials performed by the singer.

Grief over Yao’s death has turned into controversy about how the press should cover celebrity deaths after many accused one media outlet of crossing the line.

Three reporters from Shenzhen Evening News were accused of dressing up as medical staff on the day Yao died and sneaking into the operation room to take pictures of her dead body as doctors removed her cornea for transplant.

Shenzhen Evening News did not apologize the next day. Instead, they posted an announcement saying they were forming a charity foundation in Yao's name to collect money from fans. This triggered another round of angry criticism.

Eventually, the newspaper apologized for its action and abandoned the foundation after pressure from the public and requests from Yao’s family. The doctor who performed the cornea operation denied claims that he had accepted payment from the newspaper, which explained that they just wanted to photograph the process of the surgery rather than take pictures of Yao’s dead body.

It is reported that Yao's father has already forgiven the newspaper.

Yao was born on Sept. 26, 1981 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei. She won the award for best pop song performance at China Central Television's Young Singer TV Grand Prix in 2008. She has also sung several theme songs for hit movies and TV series, including the TV drama "The Legend of Zhenhuan," Feng Xiaogang's "Back to 1942" and the Chinese version of "Let It Go" from Disney's "Frozen." Her popularity received a boost from her appearance on the Chinese reality talent show "The Voice of China" in 2013.

However, the stress of performing on "The Voice of China" made Yao’s condition worse. According to Dr. Cao Yinming, who removed Yao's tumor and galactophore in May 2011, Yao Beina was recovering very well after the surgery. But due to her busy schedule and hard work on "The Voice of China," the cancer was found to have spread to her brain, bones and lungs during an exam to check her progress on June 27, 2014.

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