Veteran singer to mark 50 years with 38 songs

On singer Ling Xiao's line-up for Sunday's gig is Ku Qing Hua, his 1960s hit.
On singer Ling Xiao's line-up for Sunday's gig is Ku Qing Hua, his 1960s hit.PHOTO: BIZ TRENDS

Local singer Ling Xiao was just 17 when he sang Ku Qing Hua (Melancholic Flower).

In the ballad, he pines for a beautiful girl, crooning: "I want to seek, I want to seek/Seek your whereabouts/Where you've gone, where you've gone/Leaving the melancholic flower to bloom alone."

But he tells The Straits Times: "I was young then, so I didn't fully convey the mood and essence of the song."

Regardless, it became one of his biggest hits, one that his fans would always request at his shows, even now, 50 years later.

The veteran entertainer will mark the half-century milestone with a concert at Resorts World Theatre on Sunday.

He plans to sing 38 tracks drawn from across the decades and a body of work of more than 100 Mandarin albums, since he broke into the music scene after taking part in a Rediffusion music contest in 1967 - he used to churn out a four-track 45rpm vinyl record every month or so.

  • BOOK IT / LING XIAO GLORIOUS 50TH HITS CONCERT

    WHERE: Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway

    WHEN: Sunday, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $38 to $88 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

While Ku Qing Hua is definitely part of the line-up, it will not be the same as the 1960s version.

"(Some fans) want me to sing it the way they remember it. But my voice can't return to the past," he says.

He has recorded the song at least four times.

"Each time, the way of singing and the expression of the emotions are different. With age and experience, the feel is different."

While he listens to his old recordings from time to time, he has no interest in remaining stuck in the past.

"As artists, if you don't advance, you will regress. I don't want to stay at the same stage. I don't dare to say I sing very well now, but I feel that I'm still improving. We have to move with the times."

The desire to improve himself has seen him branching into acting and hosting.

His acting debut as a down-and-out singer in the Channel 8 drama, Facing The Music (1998), introduced him to a new generation of fans and he is also a resident judge on the ongoing Golden Age Talentime television show.

He says: "I want to be more versatile. In the 1960s, you could get by on singing alone. Nowadays, you have to do everything."

There is another change he has observed in the show business scene. Back then, artists did not really have managers or personal assistants.

"We did everything ourselves - from head to toe, from hairstyles to costumes. We relied on ourselves and I think we are stronger for that."

Despite being dubbed Auntie Killer by the Chinese press, Ling, who has never married, says his love life has been a blank these past years.

"I'll just be a happy bachelor and that's fine. Sometimes, I'll feel a little lonely, but that's the price you pay.

"My life is simple. When I'm not singing, I'll be at home, watching television shows, doing chores. Occasionally, I'll have a few drinks with friends.

"Health, happiness - that's what's important. And a little money to spend so you don't have to borrow from or cheat others. I've managed to do that."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'Veteran singer to mark 50 years with 38 songs'. Print Edition | Subscribe