Yao Su Yong
Yao Su Yong
Before that, she'd been singing songs for a while, a minor hit being a Mandarin-language rewrite of a Japanese popular song, "負心的人" (Cruel-Hearted Lover). No longer would she have to worry about success -- instantly, she was selling out shows and getting invited to concerts all across the Mandarin-speaking world.
At the height of her popularity in the late sixties/early seventies, it is said that one Hong Kong nightclub owner offered her 60,000HKD for a month's worth of performances (now about USD$7600 or over $10,000 Canadian dollars). An extravagant amount back then, when the highest-paid Hong Kong singer was earning only about 10,000HKD a MONTH.
Audiences said what set her apart was her complete immersion into the emotion of her songs. Most of her songs are sentimental love ballads, wistful, nostalgic melodies, and her entire composure and movements would reflect the mood of her music. She often cried as she sang on stage.
However, there is a mark of controversy that stains her career. Though seemingly trivial now, it was enough to drive her to retirement.
Certainly, her catalog is extensive, with over 200 recorded songs. However, during the most intense period of martial law in Taiwan (basically, 1949 until 1975, when Chiang Kai-Shek died), 80 of her songs were banned, supposedly for stirring up unhealthy morals amongst the youth (too many sentimental songs about love would drive the population to immorality!) and being too depressing (for a happy nation is a strong nation).
On August 18th, 1969, Yao Su Yong sang at a packed crowd in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. The audience was crazy about her, cheering madly every time she appeared on stage, and pleaded and begged her to sing some of her banned songs. Initially, she declined as politely as she could, saying that she was not permitted to perform those songs, and that she hoped the audience would forgive her. However, the requests wouldn't stop, and eventually, she sang "負心的人", hoping the popular appeal of her song would override any official censorship.
Unfortunately, the police guards stationed at the theater didn't agree. They called her offstage and questioned her, asking her to record her playlist and make an official confession. Failing to produce a playlist, her singer's license was revoked, "leaving no door or window" open. Since she was no longer allowed to perform in Taiwan, she turned to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia to continue her career.
Now, she lives a quiet life in Singapore. Though Taiwan officially invited her to perform at the 1998 Golden Horse Film Festival (the biggest movie event of the island, government sanctioned), she politely declined, saying that now that her life was peaceful and stable, she preferred to remain out of the limelight. However, her legacy lives on. "Jin Tian Bu Hui Jia", the movie, was remade in 1996, but still used her original song. Her records continue to be very popular, and her status in the annals of Chinese oldies divas is well-secured.