Who is Dao Lang? Many people had no idea a year ago. But today you will hear Dao Lang's songs in most audio-video shops in many Chinese cities. Not only in these shops, but almost all garment stores and beauty salons have this man's husky voice floating on the air.
Dao Lang's popularity came from out of the blue, without any packaging or promotion. He became the center of attraction for the mass media, but for a certain time, none of the media were able to interview him. Speaking of publicity, Dao Lang said: "It's all too frivolous. I'm afraid it'll take my inspiration away."
As for his origins, people only know that he hails from Sichuan in southwestern China and is Han in ethnicity. But what is his life like? A reporter from Sichuan eventually interviewed him and learned something about him and of his understanding of music through his wife and friends.
His real name is Luo Lin. His hometown is Luoquan Township in Zizhong County, Sichuan Province.
On the way to success
"Actually I am an ascetic in the world of music," Dao Lang said. "When I was
16 years old and had yet to graduate from secondary school, I went to the city of Neijiang to learn to play keyboard instruments. Two years later, I toured Chengdu, Chongqing, Tibet and Xi'an for more than four years as a bar-hopping musician. I did not spend a single day in a university. I met my wife in 1995 when I was a singer in Hainan. Her family name is Zhu and she is from Xinjiang.
"When I arrived in Xinjiang with my wife, I knew nobody and didn't know what to do. So my wife let me listen to music for a pastime. The music from Xinjiang inspired me so much that I decided I would do something. I published a disc of sundry pop music in 2001. But only a little more than 2,000 discs were sold. I buried myself in a library for many days after this failure.
"Then I traveled to the Gobi Desert to meet Uygur people and study their music. I wrote three to four songs a day, and over a year I wrote more than 1,000 songs. So far, I have written more than 3,000 songs. The fact is that many of the songs are no good, but I got experience from writing them.
"I published another disc, Songs from the Western Region in 2001. The songs on it are all old ones sung by me but written by others. I was impoverished at that time and had no money to hire singers. So I had to try and sing myself.
"Some people from Beijing listened to my record and told me: "You have done an excellent job. Your voice is the most beautiful. Why not use your own voice? Songs from the Western Region became a hit instantly.
"Many people say my voice is unique. The fact is that I have combined the bold and rough Uygur music with the high pitch of Sichuan opera. The result is I have created something different."
"I had a failed marriage before I met my current wife. I met her in Hainan in my most difficult time. My family now has four people, with two daughters, one from my ex-wife and the other from Zhu.
"My wife inspired me when I was feeling very down. When I got popular, she told me to keep a peaceful mind."
"When I was making the disc, Songs from the Great Desert, particularly when I was recording The Grapes in Tulufan, I thought a lot about the unsophisticated customs of the Uygur people and also about the years when I was drifting. I thought about nature. The music flew into my soul, and tears flew out of my eyes.
This disc happened to be the most successful. It was like a fire spreading quickly from Xinjiang to the northeast, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu and other areas of the country. The only city that remained unmoved was Beijing. You are not successful if you are not popular in Beijing.
"Later in May, Mr. Song Ke, a famous producer, recommended my disc to Beijing audio-video shops. And in less than five days, many people in Beijing knew my songs.
Out of sight
Many media agencies began seeking after me after I became popular in Beijing. I switched off my mobile phone. I developed a sense of fear. Now many record companies are trying to contact me.
Although I am not leading an affluent life, I don't want to show off in order to remain sensitive to music and retain peace of mind. I fear if I become frivolous, I would damage my pure inspiration for music. I don't want to be a flash in the pan. People buy my discs. That's great support for me.
"I don't want to be in variety shows. I don't want to be on performance tours. I don't want to give autographs to sell discs. As long as people buy my disc and speak favorably about it, I am happy. I want to thank them with the most beautiful music."
Dao Lang gained national prominence in just over a year. He has been called "Wang Luobin of the 21st century" (Wang Luobin was a famous musician who wrote many famous songs based on Uygur folk music). A record company manager said Dao Lang had created a miracle in China's music circles.
Dao Lang said he was making a new disc. "When I finish it, I will hold concerts in five Chinese cities, including my hometown Chengdu," he said.
The First Snow in 2002 (audio source: sina.com.cn)
(Shenzhen Daily June 25, 2004)