Ying Hua, best known by her stage name of Sakura Teng, was born in Muar, state of Johor, Malaysia, in May 1948. She grew up there, where she received her education in Chinese and English, but has always been mistaken for a Singaporean as she had been living in the republic until the mid '80s.
During her years in school, Sakura won many singing competitions as well as many public speaking awards. Despite being a top student, and having decided to become a singer, at the tender age of sixteen she quit school and moved to Singapore. Her music career began in 1965, when she was just seventeen, at the now defunct New World, an amusement park located in the central area of Singapore.
On her path to fame, Sakura was lucky enough to meet Su Yin (舒雲), a.k.a. Henry Foo, a Singaporean singer, songwriter and lyricist, who was also the A&R manager for the Chinese section at Columbia / EMI. He immediately recognized her potential, and in 1966 she was signed by the label. Her first 7" EP was an instant hit: it sold 25,000 copies and became the first in a very long series of successful releases which lasted until the early '80s.
Interestingly, her stage name is actually a literal translation of her Chinese name, which means 'cherry blossom' in Mandarin. Apparently she was given the nickname when she started singing Japanese numbers in Chinese during her early stage performances.
Sakura recorded many fabulous Mandarin covers of popular English songs and she was part of the pioneers who launched the Rock Movement in Singapore. Along with Rita Chao, with whom she joined forces on many recordings during the late '60s, they were both known as 'A Go-Go Queens of the Sixties'.
Sakura and Rita began performing as a double act in 1967, as both singers were doing well and EMI felt that pairing them would give both their careers a boost. Together they toured Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, building a fan base at each port of call. On stage, Chao usually played the part of the impish naif, while Sakura was the more mature half of the duo. They split up in the mid '70s but are still fondly remembered.
During her heyday in the '60s and '70s, Sakura cut more than fifty records and she also came to be known as the 'Yodelling Singer' for her vocal 'trademark'. She still is one of the most popular female Mandarin singers, and during her career she also recorded songs in many other languages including English, Japanese, Cantonese and Malay.
In 1985 Sakura relocated to the U.S.; since then she has quit recording but she kept on performing live until 2013, when she definitively retired at the age of 65.
Here's the track list for this 7" single:
01. 牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes) (2:53)
02. 我沒有人愛 (Nobody's Child) (2:24)
03. 做一對小夫妻 (I Need You) (3:09)
04. 要說就說 (Kopi Su Su) (2:00)
All tracks were remastered in February 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.
Please have a look at the comments for the download links.
Sakura's second EP was originally released sometimes in late 1966 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number ECHK 562. The EP was also available with an alternate cover, you can see it here.
The backing band is not credited anywhere on the cover or labels of this release, but since the same recordings were later spreaded across Sakura's first two albums, from the information and pictures included on them we know that they're no less than the mighty The Quests, a legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing unit - most notably for Sakura and Rita Chao - and as performers with their own hits and TV show.
Side A opens with a Mandarin version of "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes", a famous song written and originally performed by American Country singer-songwriter Hank Williams. This is Sakura's first published song that feature her trademark yodelling; you can listen to the original version by clicking here.
"Nobody's Child" is a song written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree. It was first recorded by Canadian Country singer Hank Snow in 1949 (...available here) and soon became a standard in this genre; among others, it was covered by The Beatles early during their career (here) and The Traveling Wilburys (here).
I am afraid that I can't tell you much about "I Need You", the first song on Side A... Its simple title doesn't help, and the only related result I could find is this hilarious clip on YouTube; it seems that the song is the same... In his book "Beyond the Tea Dance", Joseph C. Pereira asserts that this is a cover of a Beatles track written by George Harrison... Maybe he's right, but I can't find any similarity at all between these two songs: anyone can help about this?
The EP ends with "Kopi Su Su" (Coffee and Milk), a song originally performed by Dutch Indo singer Sandra Reemer in 1962; here's a link to her version.
Sakura and The Quests in session, 1966
The following clips offer a preview of the remastered EP, enjoy "牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes)" and "做一對小夫妻 (I Need You)"!
...and, as a bonus, here's Sakura performing a live rendition of "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes" with English lyrics in 1994, enjoy!
More information about Sakura is available here:
In the next months I will post more Hong Kong/Taiwan/Singapore/etc. Pop/Instrumental records released in the late-60s / mid-70s. As usual, I would like to provide information about these releases and their authors.
Unfortunately the Internet doesn't offer much information - written in English - about these artists and this is the reason why I need help: if you can translate from Chinese to English please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!
It's been difficult to obtain these vinyls, some are not in the best conditions and I'm currently working hard to properly master them. It seems that these artists and their music are poorly known in the West, of course it's a real pity because they made stunning releases: I'd like to share them with you with a proper presentation, hope that someone will be able to help.