Liang Wern Fook



Liang Wern Fook (Dr) (b. 1964, Singapore)1 is a writer, singer-composer and educator in Chinese literature and the Chinese language. A pioneer of xinyao, a genre of Mandarin songs that is unique to Singapore, Liang’s name is synonymous with the xinyao movement. He has over 200 songs and two Mandarin musicals to his name.2 For his contributions to the local music scene, Liang was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Music in 2010.3

Early life and career
Liang grew up with his two younger siblings in a music-loving family. Liang’s father was a journalist with the Chinese press and his mother was an acupuncturist.4 Liang’s father was a member of the Singapore Press Holdings Choir for many years and as a child, Liang remembered his parents singing all kinds of songs, from folk songs to English and Chinese oldies. They also frequently played records of popular Mandarin singers of the 1940s, such as Bai Kuang and Zhou Xuan.5


When Liang was about 10 years old, he overheard the neighbour playing the piano one afternoon. He then begged his father for a piano and music lessons. His father obliged and Liang went on to attain a Grade 8 in piano by the time he was 18 years old.6

Not only did Liang love music, he also loved the Chinese language and Chinese literature. While Liang was a secondary school student in Catholic High, he started to write Chinese essays, prose and poetry, some of which were published in the local papers.7 He also took part in and won various Chinese writing competitions.8

A talented young man in both words and music, Liang wrote his first song, Xie Yi Shou Ge Gai Ni, when he was 16 after losing in a debate competition.9

Upon graduating from Catholic High, Liang attended Hwa Chong Junior College. Liang was an active student. He headed the student council as well as the Chinese Society Drama Club.10 During his college days, Liang became more prolific in song composition, largely for the college. One of the songs Liang composed, Chang Yi Shou Hua Chu De Ge, has continued to be used as the closing song for the society’s annual performances.11

Liang went on to pursue Chinese studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He was at the same time very active in composing songs and taking part in singing performances. In spite of his hectic schedule, Liang graduated as top student.12 He received the gold medal awards from both the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Chinese Studies Department (1988).13

In 1990,14 Liang decided to pursue further studies, first attaining a Masters from NUS (1992) and then a PhD in Chinese studies (1999) from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).15

Liang has written over 15 publications and won the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature in 1992.16 In 2010, he was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Music.17

Liang now does adjunct teaching as an associate professor at NTU’s Chinese Studies Department, mentoring students in Chinese language, Chinese literature and Chinese creative writing. He is also the language director for Xue Er You Language Centre, which was set up in 1997.18

Artistic career
Liang started to write lyrics and compose music for songs actively in the 1980s while he was studying in college and subsequently at university.19


In the 1980s, influenced by the Campus Folk Song Movement from Taiwan, students from junior colleges and polytechnics started forming their own singing interest groups. These groups performed songs that were composed by the students. These songs were given the newly minted term xinyao, meaning songs of Singapore or Singapore ballads. It is identifiable by clean acoustics, with a group of people singing and harmonising together, usually accompanied solely by a guitar.20

Liang penned many songs during this period and was regarded as one of the giants of xinyao. His works included popular songs such as Shui de Hua (1985), Lian Zhi Qi (1986), Xi Shui Chang Liu (Friendship Forever) (1987), Jiu Yi Na You Xin Yi Hao (Old Clothes Are Better Than New Ones) (1986), A Ben, A Ben (1986), Kao Shi Qian Xi (Before the History Exams) (1987), Yi Bu Yi Bu Lai (One Step at a Time) (1987), many of which have become evergreens.21

Liang released his first xinyao album, Men (Door), in 1986.22 He was the first xinyao composer to release an individual album.23 During his xinyao phase, Liang released five albums, some of which sold 20,000 copies.24

In 1992, after the release of his last album, Go East, Liang decided to focus on academic pursuits while his peers in the xinyao era, such as Eric Moo and Billy Koh, ventured into careers in the entertainment industry.25

When the xinyao movement ended in the early 1990s, Liang continued to pen many pop songs, some of which were sung by Mandopop heavyweights like Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Stefanie Sun, Kit Chan and Joi Chua.26

In an interview, Liang commented on his shift in song composing, “The music I write is shaped by the changing times and my own growing up process. Since I used to sing my own songs in the past, I was limited by my own vocal range. Now I get to stretch my song writing capabilities by working with different singers”.27

Liang also wrote the script and co-composed the music for December Rain (1996), the first Chinese musical produced by a Singaporean.28 Subsequently, he went on to collaborate with award-winning Hong Kong playwright Raymond To to produce a second Chinese musical, If There Are Seasons (2007). Both musicals had sold out runs and were restaged in 2010 and 2009 respectively.29

Liang’s songs enjoy immense popularity. In a 2003 poll conducted by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS), six of Liang’s works were voted into the list of the top ten xinyao songs.30 He was also voted as the Person Who Best Represents the Xinyao Spirit.31

Liang also won four MediaCorp Radio FM93.3 Awards for his compositions: Dan Xin (Worried) (1995), Mei You Ren (2001), Tian Leng Jiu Hui Lai (If There Are Seasons) (2003) and Pei Wo Kan Ri Chu (2005).32 Two of the songs he penned for local Chinese television dramas Wo Men and Que Qiang won Best Drama Television theme song at the Mediacorp Star Awards in 2010 and 2012 respectively.33

In addition to his illustrious career in music, Liang is also a published poet and essayist. He was voted Most Popular Writer by students in a poll organised by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao in 1990.

Liang continues to pen a few songs a year, which he offers to singers he feels are best able to convey the nuances and emotions of his works.34

Stylistic conventions
Whether it be xinyao ballads or Mandarin pop songs, Liang songs have a distinctive style.35 While most xinyao compositions express love, friendship and the feelings of young people, Liang’s works include personal reflections about social and political issues, local culture, social phenomena and love for Singapore.


Former DJ Zhang Mei Xiang commented that Liang’s songs have a strong sense of Singapore culture, which distinguishes them from other xinyao works.36 When he composes a song, Liang first has a theme in mind with a cultural vision behind it. Then he creates the music and the lyrics together.37

Considered a rare talent, Liang is a musician as well as a man of letters. He composes the music as well as wrote the lyrics to his songs. Liang loves music and Chinese literature. Thus, early in his musical endeavours, he decided to marry his two interests.38 The lyrics in Liang’s works are poetic, artful yet refreshing and appeals to the masses; the melodies are artistic and never overly dramatic.39

The late theatre doyen Kuo Pao Kun once referred to Liang’s works as a “bridge linking literature and music”.40

Family41
Wife: Liu Xiu Mei.

Awards42
1987: 新乐奖 The Young Songwriters Society, Sing Music Award, Best Album production for (Men).
1988: 新乐奖The Young Songwriters Society, Sing Music Award, Best Lyrics Award for 一步一步来 (One Step at a Time).
1989: 新谣节 Xinyao Festival, Best Composition for 从你回眸那天开始 [Cong Ni Hui Mou Na Tian Kai Shi].

1989: 新乐奖The Young Songwriters Society, Sing Music Award, Best Album production for 的名字 [Ai De Ming Zi].
1992: Young Artist Award (Literature).

1994: 新加坡金曲奖MediaCorp Radio, FM 93.3, Singapore Hit Awards, Highest Honour Award.
1995: 新加坡金曲奖MediaCorp Radio, FM 93.3, Singapore Hit Awards,Best Local Lyrics Award for 担心 (Worried).
1999: COMPASS Awards.

2001: 新加坡金曲奖MediaCorp Radio, FM 93.3, Singapore Hit Awards 没有人 [Mei You Ren].
2002: Asia Television Awards, Best Original TV Series Theme Song for 握住我的手[Wo Zhu Wo De Shou].
2003: 新加坡金曲奖MediaCorp Radio, FM 93.3, Singapore Hit Awards, Best Local Lyrics Award for 天冷就回家 (If There Are Seasons).
2004: Singapore Streets Festival, Best Chinese Composer Award.

2005: 新加坡金曲奖MediaCorp Radio, FM 93.3, Singapore Hit Awards, Best Local Lyrics Award for 陪我看日出 [Pei Wo Kan Ri Chu].
2008: 南洋校友成就奖Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award.
2008: 新传媒933醉心龙虎榜“金曲权威25”《25位代表歌手》YES 93.3 POP Top Chart – 25 Most Representative Artist.
2010: 新加坡e乐大赏 Singapore Entertainment Awards.
2010: Cultural Medallion Award for Music.
2010: MediaCorp TV, Star Awards 2010, Best TV Drama Theme Song [Wo Men].
2011: Life! Theatre Awards, Best Original Score – 雨 (December Rains).
2011: Singapore Hit Awards, Best Local Lyrics – [Jue Jiang].
2012: MediaCorp TV, Star Awards 2012, Best TV Drama Theme Song [Jue Jiang].

Music Albums43
1986:
门 [Men].

1987: 好与不好之间 [Hao Yu Bu Hao Zhi Jian].
1988: 爱的名字 [Ai De Ming Zi].
1990: 新加坡派 [Xin Jia Po Pai].
1991: 我的歌在哪里 [Wo De Ge Zai Na Li].
1991: 笑说城事 [Xiao Shuo Cheng Shi].
1991: 斟情手记 [Zhen Qing Shou Ji].
1992: Go East东方情思录 [Go East Dong Fang Qing Si Lu].
2007: 绕梁一世 [Rao Liang Yi Shi].
2009: 天冷就回来 (If There Are Seasons).
2010: (December Rains).
2010: 请你告诉她 [Qing Ni Gao Su Ta].

2011: 华月心谣 [Hua Yue Xin Yao].



Author
Chor Poh Chin



References
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Victoria Junior College. (2013). 梁文福 [Liang Wen Fu]. Retrieved from Victoria Junior College website: http://www.vjc.moe.edu.sg/fasttrack/chinese/culture/sp_authors/Au_liangwenfu.htm
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李白娟 & 周文龙 [Li, B. J. & Zhou, W. L.]. (2007, August 5). 梁文福自在自识, 无用之用 [Liang Wen Fu zi zai zi shi wu yong zhi yong]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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11. 李白娟 & 周文龙 [Li, B. J. & Zhou, W. L.]. (2007, August 5). 梁文福自在自识, 无用之用 [Liang Wen Fu zi zai zi shi wu yong zhi yong]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. 李白娟 & 周文龙 [Li, B. J. & Zhou, W. L.]. (2007, August 5). 梁文福自在自识, 无用之用 [Liang Wen Fu zi zai zi shi wu yong zhi yong]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Nanyang Technological University. (2009). Liang Wern Fook. Retrieved from Nanyang Technological University website: http://chinese.hss.ntu.edu.sg/About/Faculty/Adjunct%20Faculty/Pages/LIANGWernFook.aspx
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Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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Media Development Authority. (2013). Singapore Media. Retrieved from Media Development Authority website: http://sgmediagallery.mda.gov.sg/Lists/Music/DispForm.aspx?ID=16&ContentTypeId=0x0100AFB8F2C79E090141843C51A10AF4A4C6
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National Arts Council Singapore. (2013, October 4). Cultural Medallion & Young Artist Award Recipients for Music. Retrieved from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/art-forms/music/local-directory/cultural-medallion-young-artist-award-recipients-for-music
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Nanyang Technological University. (2009). Liang Wern Fook. Retrieved from Nanyang Technological University website: http://chinese.hss.ntu.edu.sg/About/Faculty/Adjunct%20Faculty/Pages/LIANGWernFook.aspx; Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Xinyao Singapore! An Introduction to Xinyao. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://xinyaoorganisationsingapore.blogspot.sg/p/introduction-to-xinyao.html; Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
21. 胡文雁 [Hu, W. Y.]. (2010, October 13). 三文化奖得主搭建多元艺术桥 [San wen hua jiang de zhu da jian duo yuan yi shu qiao]. Retrieved from http://chinese.hss.ntu.edu.sg/News/Documents/mediaUpdates/LHZB_13102010.pdf; Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
22. Media Development Authority. (2013). Singapore Media. Retrieved from Media Development Authority website: http://sgmediagallery.mda.gov.sg/Lists/Music/DispForm.aspx?ID=16&ContentTypeId=0x0100AFB8F2C79E090141843C51A10AF4A4C6
23.
李白娟 & 吴炳强 [Li, B.J. & Wu, B. Q.]. (1995, June 12). 梁文福个个想你的日子 [Liang Wen Fu ge ge xiang ni de ri zi]. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
24. Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
26. Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
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28. Chin, S. F. (1998, January 15). Xinyao craze over? But recording firms still get lots of demo-tapes. The Straits Times, p. 86. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
30. Chan, B. (2013, August 1). Xinyao uniquely Singapore. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from Newspaper SG.
31. Nanyang Technological University. (2012). Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award Recipient (2008). Retrieved from Nanyang Technological University website: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/NanyangAlumniAwards/Recipients/PreviousYearAwardRecipients/2008/Pages/DrLiangWernFook(%E6%A2%81%E6%96%87%E7%A6%8F%E5%8D%9A%E5%A3%AB).aspx
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Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
33. Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
34. Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Nanyang Technological University. (2012). Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award Recipient (2008). Retrieved from Nanyang Technological University website: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/NanyangAlumniAwards/Recipients/PreviousYearAwardRecipients/2008/Pages/DrLiangWernFook(%E6%A2%81%E6%96%87%E7%A6%8F%E5%8D%9A%E5%A3%AB).aspx
35.
Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
36. Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
37. 胡文雁 [Hu, W. Y.]. (2010, October 13). 三文化奖得主搭建多元艺术桥 [San wen hua jiang de zhu da jian duo yuan yi shu qiao]. Retrieved from http://chinese.hss.ntu.edu.sg/News/Documents/mediaUpdates/LHZB_13102010.pdf; Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
38. Chin, S. F. (1998, January 15). Xinyao craze over? But recording firms still get lots of demo-tapes. The Straits Times, p. 86. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. 胡文雁 [Hu, W. Y.]. (2010, October 13). 三文化奖得主搭建多元艺术桥 [San wen hua jiang de zhu da jian duo yuan yi shu qiao]. Retrieved from http://chinese.hss.ntu.edu.sg/News/Documents/mediaUpdates/LHZB_13102010.pdf; Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
40. Kong, K. Y. (2010, August 20). Liang Wern Fook (梁文福): The singing academic. Retrieved from MusicSG.
41. Hong, X. Y. (2007, August 6). The original campus superstar. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. National Library Board Singapore. (2014). Liang Wenfu. Retrieved from MusicSG; Media Development Authority. (2013). Singapore Media. Retrieved from Media Development Authority website: http://sgmediagallery.mda.gov.sg/Lists/Music/DispForm.aspx?ID=16&ContentTypeId=0x0100AFB8F2C79E090141843C51A10AF4A4C6
43.
Media Development Authority. (2013). Singapore Media. Retrieved from Media Development Authority website: http://sgmediagallery.mda.gov.sg/Lists/Music/DispForm.aspx?ID=16&ContentTypeId=0x0100AFB8F2C79E090141843C51A10AF4A4C6



Further resources

梁文福 [Liang, W. F.]. (1990). 斟情手记 [录音资料]: 梁文福抒情作品1987-1990 [Zhen qing shou ji] [Sound recording]: Liang Wenfu shu qing zuo pin 1987-1990]. 新加坡: 冠和制作.
(Call no.: Chinese LR 782.42 LWF)

梁文福 [Liang, W. F.]. (1997). 搖一搖新謠 [录音资料] [Yao yi yao xin yao] [Sound recording]. 吉隆坡: 南方唱片機構.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 782.42 LWF)

梁文福 [Liang, W. F.]. (2005). 梁文福抒情创作手记 [录音资料] [Liang Wenfu shu qing chuang zuo shou ji] [Sound recording]. Kuala Lumpur: 南方唱片机构.
(Call no.: Chinese LRSING 782.42163 LWF)

梁文福 [Liang, W. F.]. (2007). 绕梁一世 [录音资料] [Rao liang yi shi] [Sound recording]. 新加坡: 海蝶音乐私人有限公司.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 782.42163 LWF)

梁文福 [Liang, W. F.]. (2010). 请你告诉她[录音资料] [Qing ni gao su ta] [Sound recording]. Singapore: Ko-nen Creative.
(Call no.: Others RSING 784 LWF)



The information in this article is valid as at 6 March 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Personalities
Arts