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Zhang Chu (Chinese: 张楚; pinyin: Zhāng Chǔ, born November 11, 1968) is a Chinese musician who was born in Xi’an, Shaanxi.

Lauded by many as “the most lonesome singer-poet”, Zhang Chu has remained a prominent figure on Chinese rock scene despite not releasing a new album since 1997. In fact, his lyrics continues to be quoted frequently by a whole new generation of Chinese youth to this day, though few seem to truly grasp its meaning.

Mainstream audience got a first taste of Zhang Chu’s distinctive brand of folk rock in 1992 through the by-now classic single “Sister”. The song recounts a dark story of familial abuse and repression through the eyes of a child. The repeated exclamations of “Sister! I wanna go home. Take a hold of my hand, I’m a bit sleepy. Sister! I wanna go home. Take a hold of my hand, you don’t need to be afraid” during the rousing chorus moved countless listeners to tears. The memorable melody and the emotional vocal delivery made the song an instant hit in China mainland, with its influence spreading to other Chinese speaking regions and countries. Zhang Chu himself confided years later that the song carried a political overtone which few seemed to detect. This is typical of his style, social satire which is subtle and easy to miss by the unsuspected. Similarly, his rollicking punk cover of the Red Standard “Socialism is Good” also left some of us wondering if this was not a tongue-in-cheek dig at the “People’s Government”.


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