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17 octobre 2008

Her eccentric Highness

Kenny Chee, Asia One, Tue, Oct 14, 2008

Chinese artiste Sa Ding Ding is poised to crack the Western market

By her own admission, Mongolian-born Chinese singer Sa Ding Ding can come across as a tad eccentric. "Even I think I'm a bit strange," the singer, who was born in Mongolia, told my paper. "That's because I tend to be very focused when I'm doing something and I'm apt to forget what's happening around me." To that end, she has shown up at recording sessions dressed in winter clothes in summer, oblivious to the fact until someone pointed it out.

Sa - who was in town recently to perform at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre as part of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix's entertainment programme - has been billed by some as Asia's answer to Icelandic singer Bjork. Sa fuses electronica with Chinese folk music, and this melange is topped by her warbly vocals.

She is also inspired by ancient Chinese texts such as the Materia Medica, a Ming Dynasty encyclopaedia of Chinese herbs written by naturalist Li Shizhen. She sings in Mandarin, Tibetan and Sanskrit, as well as a self-created language. Born to a Mongolian doctor mother and a Chinese government- official father, Sa was raised by her grandmother in the grasslands of northern China.

Her upbringing influenced her ear for ethnic music, and Sa later moved to Beijing to study philosophy and music at the Central Conservatory of Music. She released a debut album in 2001, followed by her sophomore release, Alive, last year. It caught the ears of the Western media, winning the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 3 World Music Award for the Asia-Pacific region in April.

That win led to Sa performing at London's Royal Albert Hall and the World of Music, Arts and Dance (Womad) festival, where she enjoyed four encores. After her performance, she was approached backstage by many who told her that she "completed (their) music experiences", she said.

"I was incredibly moved; I treasure that much more than fame or fortune," she added. And what did she think of the world's first night race, which she was here to support? "I've watched F1 races on television, but this is the first time I've seen it so up-close and it's very exciting," she enthused. "I sometimes ask why the cars need to be so fast. But maybe I ask that because I'm a girl."

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