The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Alan Dawa Dolma is her name, a mouthful for a pop star. But this ethnic Tibetan - from China's southwestern Sichuan province bordering Tibet - has become the most successful Chinese artist in the lucrative Japanese popular music market. She got to number three in the Oricon weekly charts - the Japanese music-sales-statistics-collecting equivalent of Billboard - with her 9th single since moving to Japan in 2007: 'Kuon No Kawa.' The uber-urbanised Japanese have a penchant for ethnic fare and travel to remote territories.  Maybe that helped Alan Dawa to win a 2006 audition of 40,000 hopeful Chinese artists by Japan's Avex Trax label. The Japanese have taken to artists playing the erhu, a mournful Chinese fiddle. Alan Dawa was a child prodigy of the instrument and has since mastered the piano, though the songs she's recorded, mostly written by Japanese producers, are mainstream smiley pop affairs.

 Alan Dawa Dolma

A devout Buddhist, Alan, as she's known is also practised at the traditional Tibetan wail, a demanding high-pitched style synonymous with Tibet. The tunes are used to sell goods in mainland China, where Tibet in the popular mindset is a mystical, pure-aired Chinese province. Recently I've spotted posh Beijing hotel the Opposite House using Ban Ya Ka La, toiletries marketed in a Tibetan style but made in Shanghai, and only the latest in a wave of cash-ins on Tibetan themed products in China.

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Nuggets from our archive

2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).