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Na Ying, one of the living legends of the Chinese music world and one of the longstanding judges on prolific reality singing competition The Voice of China has notoriously been known for her straight-talking, no-nonsense personality. Chatting about everything under the sun from her days as an amateur singer to her experiences as a mentor on “The Voice of China”, and even about her love for working out, the candid singer who will be coming down under to hold her Na Ying, That World tour had more than a few words of wisdom that she shared during our interview with her.

For the first time performing in Australia and New Zealand, Na explains her tour’s concept as one that seeks to give back to fans in a way only she can. “Actually the main theme of the concert has always been to give the audience an experience of being surrounding by my music, my style and my world. This kind of feeling. And also many of these fans have grown up with me and my music, and so in that respect, that is also another ‘Na world’, that’s the feeling we’re going for. “

After ending her world tour at our beachy paradise, Na asserts that it’ll be back to work for her as she prepares to take on her role of mentor on the fifth season of popular reality singing show “The Voice of China”. However, she shares that when initially asked to join the show as a mentor, she was hesitant to take up the opportunity. “Thinking back to when I first took on this program as a project, previously there was a long period where I was extremely conflicted. Very biased. And I always found a lot of reasons not to take part in it (The Voice of China). Because I felt that singing was singing, suddenly why take on a reality show?”

But after finally being persuaded by her team and enjoying herself so much that she is still here four seasons later, the reformed sceptic has nothing but praise for the show; as she now sees the opportunity to mould the singers of tomorrow sometimes as more meaningful than getting up on the stage herself. “In singing this is a very good show to prevent singers from veering off the right path. In comparison to us getting up on stage and singing, perhaps this is something that is even more meaningful.”

But so with auditions for the fifth season of the hit reality show coming around, Na Ying has some tips for amateur singers who may wish to win her over with their vocal abilities. “I think having been a judge on “the Voice of China” for four seasons already, one thing that I have always believed is that when singing you have to be real. The initial passion that you had for music is something that should never change. And towards every competitor, whether or not I will turn around for them; their attractiveness depends on their attitudes.”

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And after over 30 years in the industry, there is no one who can accuse Na Ying of not being true to herself. Coming from humble beginnings, the singer moved to Beijing from Shenyang to achieve her dreams, joining Shenyang’s dance troupe upon arrival. Even back then, the singer recalls that her blunt personality came through in everything she did, even when attempting to aid the recovery of her voice. She shares some of her words of wisdom (or lack thereof) about maintaining her pristine vocals. “I don’t have many methods to take care of my voice. My personality is that when my voice really can’t take it anymore I will immediately shut my mouth. At that time I remember there were several times my vocal chords almost went mute, and all my colleagues said to me ‘Don’t talk anymore, don’t talk anymore!’. So I nodded my head. And then when someone asked a certain question I would open my voice and start talking again! So at the end, my vocal chords really gave out, and I was honest about it too. I even stuck sticky tape over my mouth. But it was no use, for someone with my personality.”

But with or without maintenance, Na’s honest vocals have nevertheless rendered her one of China’s most successful musical exports, both economically and artistically. When asked about what she would like to see from future newcomers to the industry, her answer was simple, yet clear. “I think what the Chinese music industry needs are more singers who truly love music. I’ve always hoped to be able to find and discover people who are very calm and not wishing to use the reality show as a platform to make it big as a megastar or whatever. I have also often told my students, if you have this kind of ideas, don’t come to our team. We’ve sang 30 years worth of songs; at the time I was very lucky to have made it big. But on this journey after coming this far, I’ve realised that you still have to have a serene, passionate and pure heart that loves music. You need to be able to take up many obstacles. Possibly after 10 years in the business you may not be stronger than other singers in any way, but because of your perseverance which has added a foundation for your creative works and your singing journey, …your voice may not need to be all that big. But because of your serenity it will infect the entire audience.”

Many pithy words of wisdom about the industry from the veteran singer later, we were in for a surprise as we found out that the multitalented singer, actor, and mentor revealed herself to be something of a domestic goddess. Happily married with two children, the dedicated mom shares how she juggles work and family life successfully. “All the time that I spend with my children is after “The Voice of China” has finished. After “The Voice” has finished, it is very likely that no one will be able to find me anymore. In terms of family activities, it doesn’t have to be field trips or anything like that, perhaps at home when you are sitting next to them, watching them as they play with their toys and do their homework…When there is a secure person sitting close to them, this is what is called ‘accompaniment’.”

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The yummy mummy also is something of a fitness addict, and provides some much-needed ‘fitspo’ (a.k.a fit-inspiration) for couch potatoes like me; as she bubbles on about the energised working out makes her feel. Hell, the 48-year old has even stopped hiring a trainer because she practically is one herself! After several funny anecdotes about working out but not losing weight and fitting out a home gym but neglecting to use it, the fitness maniac provides us with a teaser to her morning workout. “Finally I got into the habit. Once I get out of bed, I don’t eat anything. I go and have a run first and go on the machines. And then I go downstairs and gorge myself.”

But after playing the name-game that many multi-talented creative types do, the singer still sees singing as her one and only true love. “In the heart of my fans, it does seem like I am someone who can sing and be a mentor and an actor in TV dramas and movies. Actually to me, I’m just trying all these things for the fun of it. But if I were to really turn one of these things into my main career-all in all, I am happiest when I am singing.”

So are we, Na Ying, so are we. But the singer who has always had a sweet spot for her fans did not close the interview without a lengthy yet meaningful parting message for all. “I want to tell all the listeners overseas I hope that you all can be very happy everyday. When you are happy, I hope you are doing what you want to be doing, study hard. A lot of you are ‘Eagle’ fans (older fans), and some ‘little eagle’ (younger fans) fans. I believe between the two types of fans your lifestyles are very different. So I still hope no matter what part of the world you are from, as long as you can hear music that moves you, being able to relate to your story, then continue to love music. Music can bring you a lot of different ways of healing; it can accompany you, and bring you happiness like a medicine with many uses. So continue loving music, and watching the shows you like. Of course, “The Voice of China” you just have to watch for me, the other three judges are not important. OK? Wishing everyone happiness and health.”

Sassy, witty, yet effortlessly warm, Na Ying imparts wisdom in erratic dialogues, peppered with fun, irrelevant anecdotes that can range from a 30-second answer to a 5-minute tangent. Driving a positive message of happiness that she herself embodies fully in her commitment to health and family yet with an eagle eye that strives for authenticity in her musical and mentoring career, she has an eclectic personality that comes through in conversation, but also in her versatile but ever-sincere vocals. Take time to listen to her songs, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Catch Na Ying live in Sydney and Melbourne on these dates:

Sydney
Date: 28th of March 2016 (Monday)
Venue: The Star Event Centre
Price: VIP $388/$338/$238/$138/$88

Melbourne
Date: 2nd of April 2016 (Saturday)
Venue: Melbourne Convention Centre
Price: VIP $389/$289/$199/$169/$129/$99

To learn more please contact: www.chinatowncinema.com.au
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Auckland no: (021) 996 494
Sydney no: (02) 9283 6166
Melbourne no: (03) 9662 3465

Photos courtesy of Chinatown Cinema