* aural cavity located on the sides of the head for insertion of local music scene

The "Voice of Puyuma" speaks up

Translated by Sharon Yang

Samingad is an aboriginal singer from the Puyuma tribe. Her albums include songs in her native tribal language and in Mandarin. For her first album, "Voice of Puyuma," released in late 1999, she received a Golden Melody Award for Best New Artist. Her second album "Wild Fire, Spring Wind" was released in September, 2001 and earned her a Golden Melody Award nomination for Best Dialect (Non-Mandarin Language) Female Vocalist. COMPASS Managing Editor Cheryl Robbins had a chance to speak with Samingad recently in Taipei. Following is an excerpt from that interview:

C: Can you tell me about your musical background? What made you decide to make music your career?
S: My whole family can sing well. But, when I was a little girl, I didn't have a good singing voice. However, my grandparents encouraged me to sing and never criticized my voice. Then, when I was 16 years old, my church held an Easter concert. Everyone in the church was to go on stage and sing. I didn't want to sing in front of everyone and tried to sneak out. My mother saw me and told me to go back inside and sing. So, I did. After I finished, everyone told me that they were amazed by my voice and the emotion that I put into my singing. I saw that even my grandmother was in tears. From that time on, I had more confidence and I began to sing more. I got a job working as a waitress in a local restaurant where I also sang from time to time. It was there that I was "discovered", and I had a chance to release my first album with Magic Stone Records in December of 1999.

C: How would you describe your music?
S: I have always insisted on singing in my native language. I guess I can't really describe my music in words. Once people hear me sing, it is clear what my music is about. When I perform in Japan, although people don't understand the words, some of them cry because they can feel the emotion of the songs.

C: As an Aborigine, was it difficult to enter the music market?
S: People are gradually becoming more accepting of aboriginal music in Taiwan, so that it is easier now for aboriginal artists to get a break.

C: Is there a large enough market for aboriginal singers to be able to survive in Taiwan singing in their native language? If not, do you foresee Taiwanese aboriginal music spreading overseas?
S: At present, it is not easy for aboriginal singers to survive if they are not pop stars. But, there is a lot of interest in Taiwanese aboriginal music in foreign countries. The only way to survive is to enter international markets.

C: What do you hope people will take away from listening to your music?
S: I hope people will come away with a respect and better understanding of aboriginal music. Aboriginal songs usually tell stories of life and culture. It is this culture that I hope people will come to know. Many people think that Aborigines are chronically unemployed or alcoholic. But, in actuality, we have a deep culture. I also hope that people will feel tranquility, or a sense of peace, when they listen to my music.

C: Are there any local pop artists that you like or respect?
S: I like Huang Hsiao-hu (¶À¤pµ[). She has a really good voice, and it is obvious that she works hard on her music.

C: What do you like to do in your free time?
S: If I have enough time, I like to go home to Taitung and spend time chatting with my relatives and helping out with the family business of raising chickens.

C: What are your future plans?
S: I hope to enter the European market. Currently, I am working in cooperation with people in the music industry in Italy, and plan to go there soon to perform.

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