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James Ling has come out with a comeback album after an 18-year hiatus.

VETERAN singer James Ling, 68, is making a recording comeback after 18 years. Age is not a deterrent to the Muar-born singer’s musical pursuits.

The title of his latest Mandarin album, Qian Chui Bai Nian (or loosely translated as Still Going Strong), bears testimony to his strong-will, determination and commitment to return to the recording studio.

One of the eight originals of the 14-track album, titled Nian Ji Bu Shi Wen Ti (Age Is Not A Problem) seems to reflect Ling’s thoughts on the issue.

TRIBUTE TO FANS

Ling’s album, released early last month, was partly attributed to his legion of fans, who were clamouring for him to make a comeback after he stopped recording in 1996.

“I’d always wanted to do a collection of new songs but was never given the chance in my previous 49 albums (all cover versions and done on vinyl disc, for the record),” said Ling, who is popularly known as Ling Zhen.

The artiste has been teaching vocal classes at a singing school in Desa Petaling since the late 1990s.

“In order not to alienate my fans, I have included six covers of old favourites, including Pan Chun Gui and Jin Yue She Ri Meng.”

For this album, Ling has tasked his composers with songs that must not sound “too new” in the lyrics and melodies, thus retaining the evergreen flavour. Among the results were five new ditties by Low Yee Woh, including Shi Yu Hai Shi Lei (Raining Teardrops) and Ai Bu Bian (Never Changing Love), with Lawrence Cheah contributing three.

SINGING CAREER

Ling is grateful that his recording company, Everspring Delights, has allowed him to accompany the album with 14 music videos.

Though the songs selection and the recording process took two years to complete, Ling is optimistic. “If the response is good, I will come out with another album,” promised Ling, who started singing full-time in 1969.

He went into music part-time in the 1980s, with occasional stage performances or album recordings (he was then a distributing agent for recyclable materials). However, the 1997 economic crisis ended Ling’s his plastics business.

“I didn’t want to become a vocal teacher at first but I had to earn a living,” he said, adding that the classes helped keep his voice in tip-top shape.

Ling is slated for double duty as judge and guest artiste at the grand finals of the Golden Melody Singing Competition in Sungei Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, on Oct 26 at 1pm.

Ricky Yap

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