Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grace Chang | Mambo Girl



Freshly reupped on Feb 15,2015, here.

Found in Manhattan's Chinatown, on Bowery, about a block or so above Canal. Born as Chang Yu Fang in Shanghai in 1933, Grace Chang moved with her family to Hong Kong in 1952. Two years later she auditioned for the Tai Shan film company and began her film career. Though a Mandarin speaker, she picked up Cantonese quickly (as well as English, for a role in "Soldier of Fortune" with Clark Gable). In the late fifties she reached superstar status, signing on with EMI's Pathe and starring in a spate of hits, including Mambo Girl, Wild, Wild Rose and Air Hostess.

This CD includes a few early recordings, plus the complete set of songs Chang sang in "Mambo Girl" and "Air Hostess," and three songs in Thai recorded in 1956. (Interestingly, in the 50s, Thai film was still silent, with live orchestras playing background music and a narrator embellishing on the images. A few years ago there was a fad among poets for this sort of thing, which we dubbed "neo-benshi": Check out my own contribution to the form here and here.)

Chang married in 1961 and retired from film in 1964. She's still alive and, although long out of the limelight, supplied photos and fact-checking for the 32-page booklet that came with the CD (some of which was, blessedly, translated into English).

Here's a clip from "Mambo Girl":


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