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Laodabao: The Lahu village of music

Updated:2018-12-30 17:18:17   Daguan Weekly

Located in southwest Yunnan’s Langcang Lahu Autonomous Prefecture, Laodabao is a Lahu village with 114 households.

Six years ago, the Laodabao Lahu Chorus sang the song “Happy Lahu” in a program broadcasted by CCTV 7, which brought the village to audience nationwide. So it is widely recognized that “Happy Lahu” becomes popular because of the efforts of the Laodabao Chorus.

As a traditional Lahu village, Laodabao is a “treasure house” of Lahu ethnic music. Among the 450 villagers, more than 250 can play guitar. Males and females, old and young, all of them are born as singers and dancers.

With a long history and profound culture, Laodabao is the birthplace of the Lahu people’s epic poem “Mu Pa Mi Pa”, which has been inscribed into the list of the national intangible cultural heritages. Li Zhage, known as the “Prince of Lusheng(a reed-pipe wind instrument)” among Lahu people, is the national-level inheritor of the  “Mu Pa Mi Pa”. Whenever he is interviewed, Li would start with the epic poem. He can even sing the poem while playing guitar. 

Li Naluo is the chairman of Langcang Laodabao Happy Lahu Performing Arts Company. According to her, all of the actors of the company are local villagers. Though they have performed in many famous stages like CCTV, they are farmers in nature when they are back to the village. Taking off makeup, they still plant and harvest crops. 

Like other villagers, Li Naluo is also a very talented musician. She learned how to play guitar when she was 13 years old. And she began to compose songs at 16. Many of her songs are getting popular, including the “Unwilling to Leave”. In 2011, Li Nanuo won the first prize of Dream Choir Contest held by CCTV.

After the success in 2011, Li received many offers from performing companies in China’s first-tier cities. But she refused. In her view, art has its own roots, and Laodabao has the earth for the art she loves. She wants to stay in Laodabao and cultivate more flowers of arts. 

Source:Daguan Weekly

Editor: John Li

Keywords:   Lahu music