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Songs Sung Red


  Text by Gao Xin

  The irony is rich when WelshmanIain Inglis sings ‘red songs’criticizing the imperialism which England practiced somuch in centuries past. The poignant imagehas become the spotlight of many webportals in China.

  Iain believes ‘red songs’ to mean revolutionary tunes composed to promote socialism and communism. The singer has grown fond of red songs just as others develop affinity for symphonies orrock & roll.

  Persistent Red Singer

  Iain was born in the U.K. in 1978, oneyear before Margaret Thatcher was electedPrime Minister. She carried out market reformsin the country, cutting popular socialprograms. For example, she eradicated thepolicy of providing free milk for schoolchildren. Iain counts himself amongst themany who disliked the recently-deceased politician.

  At the end of 1991, 13-year-old Iain became interested in the “red world,” andtwo years later, he learned his first ‘redsong’–the national an them of the former Soviet Union.

  “Why were they our ‘enemy’? Whydid it collapse?” Iain queried. “I askedmyself such questions and wanted to findthe answers myself.” As a result, in 1998,Iain set off for Russia. Over the followingyears, he traveled across Eastern Europe,studying local languages and searching forred songs.

  “Communism appeals to me,” hestresses. “As an ideal and ideology, communismis just, fair and compassionate.”

  Iain studied Russian and German atuniversity. His global travels continuedfrom Eastern Europe to Siberia, further toJapan, North Korea and ultimately to China.

  In November 2004, after being inChina for only two months, Iain made his debut. On a talent show for foreigners, Iainsang a song titled “Socialism Is Great,”which made him an audience favorite.Until then, his red songs were only a hobby.

  In January 2007, Iain and his wife,a Chongqing native, settled in Sanya, acoastal city in southern Hainan Province.He was hired as a manager at the HiltonHotel in Yalong Bay. The same year, then-Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilaiwas appointed Party Secretary of ChongqingMunicipality, and he immediately started promoting the revival of red songs.Iain’s rare ability as a foreigner capableof singing red songs led to many invitationsand opportunities. Exhausted fromperforming on top of his day job, Iain quitthe hotel to become a full-time professionalred singer.

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