The inner gatefold contains a short piece about Sakura which is now included towards the bottom of this post courtesy of our best friend Brian, who translated it in English for all of us Western fans of the glorious Singapore 60s, thank you!
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.
"提醒你 - Like I Do" inner gatefold contains lyrics, a short piece about Sakura and two Sakura / Rita Chao pictures
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.
"提醒你 - Like I Do" back cover
Here's the track list for this 7" single:
01. 提醒你 (Like I Do) (2:17)
02. 可愛的春天 (My Bonnie) (2:58)
03. 知心話 (Sad Movie) (3:26)
04. 心事無從說起 (Listen People) (2:32)
All tracks were remastered in September 2014 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 debut EP was originally released sometimes in late 1966 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number ECHK 557. The record is housed in a gatefold sleeve which is quite similar to the one used for Rita Chao's debut EP (...available here...) making them a sort of 'twin releases'.
The band credited on the labels as the Sounds Anonymous is no less than the mighty The Quests, a legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing band - most notably for Sakura and Rita Chao - and as performers with their own hits and TV show.
Side A opens with "Like I Do", a song written by Richard Manning based on a segment from "La danza delle ore" by Amilcare Ponchielli. This tune was first released and brought to success by Nancy Sinatra in the U.S. during early 1962 (available here) and by Maureen Evans in the U.K. (here).
The song is followed by "My Bonnie", a traditional Scottish folk song which was also recorded by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers - an alias for The Beatles! - in 1961 (...original version is available here).
On Side B we find "Sad Movie", a cover of "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)" written by John D. Loudermilk and originally performerd by Sue Thompson (available here) in 1961.
The EP ends with an effective cover of "Listen People" by English Beat band Herman's Hermits which was a U.S. hit in April 1966 (available here).
The following is a translation of the short piece about Sakura included on the inner gatefold:
«This is the year of Cherry Blossoms (Sakura). Or you can say that when cherry blossoms bloom they are bold, bright, and brings music and dancing. People are always enticed by the excitement and joy which Sakura's music brings. A music that people of all ages adore.
Sakura's music is beautiful in every way. She has strong enunciation skills and her appearance is very natural. Sakura brings a lot of emotion to her songs as well.
Sakura's has a very sweet look and innocent smile which attracts her fans. How could such a young lady not be loved and admired!
Sakura Teng grew up in Southern Malaysia where she received her education in Chinese and English. During her years in school, she won many singing competitions as well as many public speaking awards. She is a very open and happy person. EMI has asked Sakura to record "Reminding You" and four other pop hits. These song are awaiting to satisfy the ears of fans. Definitely a release not to be missed. It will leave you with unforgettable joy for years to come.»
Sakura, circa 1966-67
The following clips offer a preview of the remastered EP, enjoy: "提醒你 (Like I Do)" and "知心話 (Sad Movie)"!
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.