Luo Dayou

Luo Dayou
b. 1954, Taiwan
Folk singer/songwriter
In the winter of 1976, a young painter named Li Shuangjie, who had just returned to Taiwan, broke a bottle of Coca-Cola at a concert and yelled, right in front of the audience, ‘Sing our own songs!’ A contemporary folksong movement was thus started, of which the Taiwanese troubadour, Luo Dayou, became one of its main protagonists. The driving cultural force behind his music was as Taiwanese as Chinese. In the 1980s, Luo Dayou moved his base to Hong Kong and started his Music Factory label. In his music Luo Dayou shows a strong sense of social and political engagement.
He is above all an intellectual songwriter who constantly asks what ‘Chineseness’ is. He distances himself as much from essentialist interpretations of culture based on blood, race or soil as he remains critical of current processes of globalization-cum-Westernization. However, by insisting on the notion of ‘Chineseness’ and by juxtapositioning it with Westernization (for example, his song ‘Orphans of Asia’ (Yaxiya de gu’er): The West wind is singing sad songs in the East’), he at times reifies rather than challenges dominant binaries.
After retreating to Taiwan in the 1990s, in 2002 Luo Dayou established the Music Factory in Beijing, a place from which he was banned for most of his professional career. At a press conference held at a Confucian temple, he told reporters of his confidence that Beijing would become the capital of global Chinese music. His highly relevant and eloquent critique of the current imbalances in the global flows of popular culture, however, seems to have inspired Luo Dayou to an uncritical celebration of Beijing as the capital of Chinese culture and the power centre of Chinese transnationalism.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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