Yang Xiu-qing (楊秀卿), the preserver of the important traditional performing arts "chant-song," passed away on June 17 at the age of 89. Throughout her life, she dedicated herself to the promotion and continuation of the "chant-song" (also known as the Taiwanese-language gezai narrative song form) and nurtured numerous talents. Upon hearing the news, Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te expressed his heartfelt condolences and instructed the Bureau of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture to assist her family in planning her funeral as well as proposed awarding a presidential citation posthumously to Yang.
Yang’s birth was registered in 1934, however, her birth was only registered two years after she was born. She lost her sight in both eyes when she was little, and learned chant-song from her adopted sister Hsiao Jin-feng, who was also blind, for a living. They began their careers as singers when Yang turned 13, and she later got married at the age of 23. At that time, it was hard to make a living as a chant-singer, and therefore she traveled around to sell medicine with her husband. Meanwhile, she improved the performing manner of narrative songs and succeeded in attracting audiences. She finally settled down in 1968 and started recording chant-song at radio stations, establishing her reputation for "narrative opera."
In 1989, she was awarded the "Folk Arts Heritage Award" by the Ministry of Education. In 2007, she was named the recipient of the National Award for Arts, and two years later, MOC named her an "Important Preserver of Traditional Chant-song Art," honored with the title "National Living Treasure." In 2021, the 40th National Cultural Award was presented to Yang.
Since 2009, Yang participated in "The Plan for the Preservation and Transmission of Folk Arts (民間藝術保存傳習計畫)." Minister Lee noted that Yang was deeply committed to promoting chant-song art, striving to invigorate more interest from the younger generation, and her legacy will be cherished forever by future generations.
(Photo Credit: National Center for Traditional Arts)