Auspicious Signs - it's just a name to Tsai Chin

No need to tell her to break a leg when she is about to perform, as the singer is not superstitious

The concert title points to Tsai Chin's aim to perform music as a positive force to lift the spirits of unhappy people.
The concert title points to Tsai Chin's aim to perform music as a positive force to lift the spirits of unhappy people.PHOTO: MEDIACORP VIZPRO INTERNATIONAL

The title of her concert in Singapore on July 11 might be Auspicious Signs, but there is no room for omen-reading in no-nonsense, straight-talking Taiwanese singer Tsai Chin's life.

Over the telephone from Taipei, she tells Life! she is "absolutely not" superstitious.

Instead, the concert title points to her music as a positive force to lift the spirits of unhappy people. It is also the name of the light-hearted theme song, one that is "full of blessings" and set to a Latin beat.

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    Where: The Star Theatre
    When: July 11, 8pm
    Admission: $68 to $178 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

The singer notes: "There's more and more bad news in the world and people are becoming less happy. What can Tsai Chin do about it?

"At least I feel that when I'm singing, I want to try my best to give you something beautiful. So what if a concert is only two hours long? I hope that these two hours can bloom and flower in your lives."

She has done that for her fans for a lot longer than two hours - she has been doing it for decades, in fact.

Tsai, 57, has kept fans happily enthralled with her richly evocative voice on melancholic ballads such as The Forgotten Time - memorably featured on Infernal Affairs (2002), Just Like Your Tenderness and The Last Night.

She has performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium a few times in the past decade.

In the course of a career which took off in the late 1970s, several of her hits were by the late, famed songwriter Vincent Liang, including Tenderness and Reading You.

She muses: "Even though he's been gone so long, till today, wherever I go, regardless of the age of the audience, I just have to sing the first line, and the entire crowd will sing along to (Just Like Your) Tenderness.

"I feel so lucky that I was the one who popularised the song."

She is planning to release her final physical album next year and it will include four gospel tracks.

While its theme is freedom, she says with characteristic wittiness: "If you have to think about freedom day in, day out, then you're not free at all."

The plan is to finance the production on her own because she does not want to be restricted in any way.

She adds: "I want to make a good souvenir. When the time comes, bring it to me for signing. Stand in line."

In her own life, she has felt free to take on different challenges.

From singing, she went into hosting radio programmes and then went into theatre and did stage musicals. "That was the hardest thing to do - to sing, dance and act - and I started that only at 40."

Her credits in that demanding discipline include Running Angel (2005), a take on the Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act (1992).

"Each time I cross over into a different area, I take a risk. And as long as I'm halfway confident, I would embark upon it. But, in the future, I'm going to take even bigger risks."

Certainly she seems to have no lack of confidence in conversation. She declares: "When I'm 60, I want to play the electric guitar on stage with my band."

Tsai, who was married to the late film-maker Edward Yang for 10 years, is currently making a documentary of her life. It is being helmed by feted director Wei Te-sheng (Cape No. 7, 2007), one of Yang's proteges.

She said: "We don't know about Teresa Teng's journey or Fong Fei-fei's journey. I have no family or children and I wish to share all that I've been through with the next generation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2015, with the headline 'Auspicious Signs - it's just a name to Tsai Chin'. Subscribe