The late Dawn Gan: Five tracks to remember the xinyao pioneer by

Dawn Gan performing at the Xinyao Reunion Concert in 2014.
Dawn Gan performing at the Xinyao Reunion Concert in 2014.PHOTO: TCR MUSIC

SINGAPORE - With her bubbly personality and bright pipes, singer Dawn Gan was a sunny presence in the home-grown music scene.

And it is how her fans will remember her after she died on Saturday (Sept 22) from cancer at the age of 55.

Many of her songs were written by fellow xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook, including her signature song Youth 123 and the hit ballad Your Reflection.

Xinyao is a genre of local Mandarin folk-pop music popular in the 1980s and 1990s.

Liang posted a Chinese poem on Facebook dated Sept 22 titled Li Ming, which is Gan's Chinese name and also means dawn.

"I will sit in a corner
Where the light reaches
Quietly rehearsing your warm laugh"

Here are five tracks to remember Gan by:

1. Qing Chun 123 (Youth 123)

"Let me always have that pure soul/Constantly creating miracles in my ordinary life"

The chirpy theme song for the Channel 8 show The Happy Trio (1986) was one of her biggest hits. In effect, she became that embodiment of irrepressible youth, and endeared herself to a generation of music fans.

2. Wo Men Zhe Yi Ban (Our Class)

"Our class, didn't pay attention, gazed at the basketball court/Our class, cheated on tests, had the same score/Our class, idolised stars, ignored teacher's words"

The constant themes of xinyao were school life and friendships, and this was a track aimed directly at the movement's student fanbase.

3. Xin Yi Na You Jiu Yi Hao (New Clothes Aren't As Good As Old Ones)

"Now the new clothes are old, wearing regrets which can't be mended/Without meaning to, I keep thinking/Of mother's kindly smile"

Gan often shared the limelight in group anthems such as Young Hearts and duets. This sweet and jaunty ditty about a mother's love was performed with Liang and collected on his seminal debut album Door (1986).

4. Shui De Hua (Water Tales)

"A cloud drifting north south east west/No one knows my whereabouts"

Gan had told The Straits Times in past interviews that this was her favourite xinyao track. "The song was a reflection of what I felt and was also about my life in some way. A lot of people didn't know where I went after I got married," she said. She had settled in Hong Kong with her businessman husband and their children in recent years.

5. Ni De Dao Ying (Your Reflection)

"Hardest to forget is your slender and beautiful reflection"

Chaste love songs with a literary bent were very much part of the xinyao oeuvre and Gan could also be wistful, such as on this ballad with singer Hong Shaoxuan.