A few years ago, my trip to one of the many 'antique' shops in Singapore proved fruitful when I managed to buy a *10-inch Pathe Long Play vinyl of 10 songs that I had been searching for some time. Li Xiang Lan (or Lee Hsiang Lan in Wade-Giles) who probably recorded it in 1957, was one of my mother's favourite female singers. Although she loved pop westerns and Indonesian keroncongs we listened to Mandarin songs too.
The album, Lan Gui Ji Ji - CPA 134 - (above), literally meant, Orchid Chamber, Quiet, Quiet. The back sleeve is both in Chinese and English and subtitled, My Lonely Boudoir. The promotional material went: "Soprano Lee Hsiang Lan is well known to all music fans. Ten years ago she made many hits with the recordings of Mandarin songs such as Song Of The Sweet Seller and We Met Too Late. She has very clear diction and an entrancing voice. Indeed one of our most outstanding artises!"
The songs that were recorded reflected the mood of the album cover. Side One: My Lonely Boudoir, The Crow And The Phoenix, A Wandering Life, The Moon Over The River and Song Of The Heart (cover for the Western hit, Eternally). SideTwo: Young Days, Three Years, Ten Square Miles, We Met Too Late and Only You (not The Platters version).
Li Xiang Lan was one of the seven Shanghai greats. Another diva Zhou Xuan, appropriately dubbed the lady with the 'Golden Voice', is a personal favourite too. Just for the record, the other 5 divas were Bai Guang (White Light), Bai Hong (White Rainbow), Gong Qiuxia, Wu Yingyin (Queen of the Nasal Voice) and Yao Li (Silver Voice).
Li Xiang Lan, who tipped the scale as one of the most versatile entertainers born this side of the Pacific, was also a popular film star and had acted in both Chinese and Hollywood movies. One of her hits on the big screen was House of Bamboo. This coloratura soprano (lyric soprano of a high range) had a career in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and the U.S. But do you know her real name and nationality? She is also known as Shirley Yamaguchi, Li Hsiang Lan and Ri Koran. Real name: Yoshiko Yamaguchi.
More about her in the next posting.
*78 rpm versions should be available too. Any comment?
Images: Google images and Andy Lim Collection.
Information: Li Xiang Lan from Wikipedia. Others from record sleeve.