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Yao Su Yong (sometimes Yao Su Rong) was born in 1946. Her breakthrough came in 1969, with the title track to the movie “今天不回家” (Today I Won’t Come Home). That one song swept her into fame, the song being sung by young and old alike, securing her a much-coveted Hong Kong record deal with 海山 (Haishan Records), selling 600,000 copies.
Before that, she’d been singing songs for a while, a minor hit being a Mandarin-language rewrite of a Japanese popular song, “負心的人” (Cruel-Hearted Lover). No longer would she have to worry about success — instantly, she was selling out shows and getting invited to concerts all across the Mandarin-speaking world.
Certainly, her catalog is extensive, with over 200 recorded songs.
On August 18th, 1969, Yao Su Yong sang at a packed crowd in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. The audience was crazy about her, cheering madly every time she appeared on stage, and pleaded and begged her to sing some of her banned songs. Initially, she declined as politely as she could, saying that she was not permitted to perform those songs, and that she hoped the audience would forgive her. However, the requests wouldn’t stop, and eventually, she sang “負心的人”, hoping the popular appeal of her song would override any official censorship.
Unfortunately, the police guards stationed at the theater didn’t agree. They called her offstage and questioned her, asking her to record her playlist and make an official confession. Failing to produce a playlist, her singer’s license was revoked, “leaving no door or window” open. Since she was no longer allowed to perform in Taiwan, she turned to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia to continue her career.
Now, she lives a quiet life in Singapore. Though Taiwan officially invited her to perform at the 1998 Golden Horse Film Festival (the biggest movie event of the island, government sanctioned), she politely declined, saying that now that her life was peaceful and stable, she preferred to remain out of the limelight. However, her legacy lives on. “Jin Tian Bu Hui Jia”, the movie, was remade in 1996, but still used her original song. Her records continue to be very popular, and her status in the annals of Chinese oldies divas is well-secured.