King of Songs, Taiwanese crooner Ching Shan, going strong at 70

Singer Ching Shan has kept a low profile since his last solo concert five years ago.
Singer Ching Shan has kept a low profile since his last solo concert five years ago.PHOTO: BIZ TRENDS MEDIA

Taiwanese veteran crooner Ching Shan performs in spite of his many health problems

If you are a fan of veteran Taiwanese singer Ching Shan, you should catch his concert tomorrow.
 

As he rattles off a long list of medical conditions he suffers from, it is clear that staging a two-hour show takes a lot out of the 70-year-old.

"I have many ailments such as heart problems, a slipped disc, gastric reflux and gallstones. Every time I go out, I have to bring along a bag of medication," he says over the phone from Taipei .

"Because of my slipped disc, my legs will go numb if I stand for too long. I've fallen quite a number of times, the doctor says I can't take another fall."

The iconic singer has kept a low profile since his last solo concert in Hong Kong five years ago. He was persuaded to return to the stage by concert organiser Biz Trends Media and his tenacious long-time supporters.

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He had bumped into his loyal fans of 30 years when he was a guest star at local veteran singer S.K. Poon's concert here in January.

"They complained that I sang too few songs and told me to stage my own concert. I'm getting on in age, I should take the chance to stage a concert while I still can," says Ching San, who is divorced and has two daughters.

At Sunday's concert - 80 per cent of the tickets have been sold - Poon, who is better known to fans as Pan Xiuqiong, will be his guest star. They will be joined by Taiwanese guest singers Kong Lan Xun and Yu Ying Ying.

Ching San's dulcet vocals made him a hit in the 1970s and he was bestowed the title of "Taiwan's King of Songs". The singer, who debuted in 1968, released more than 50 albums that included classics such as Flower Of Tears, Adorable Life and Seeking The Gardens Of Dream.

"What I miss the most is travelling all over to perform. I went to countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. If I wasn't a singer, I wouldn't have had the chance to visit so many countries," says Ching San, who rarely travels now as it is tiring for him to walk for long periods.

The dapper crooner also starred in 1970s movies such as Don't Let The Wives Know and The Kite Flying Bride.

His heart was in singing, though, and he was worried that filming overnight for days would affect his vocal cords.

He needed enough sleep to keep his vocals in top-notch condition, he says. This was especially important in an era when singers performed daily in ge ting (music hall in Chinese).

Cherishing the connection with the audience, he says: "When I sing, I'm facing the audience. When I'm acting, I'm performing for the camera. It just feels unreal."

But he appreciates the support from two of his youngest fans the most - his five-year-old grandson and four-year-old grandaughter.

The proud grandfather recalls excitedly: "At one concert, my grandchildren were among the audience clapping for me and shouting 'Ah gong, jia you' (go, grandpa in Mandarin)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'King of Songs going strong at 70'. Print Edition | Subscribe