Ayugo Huang: a singer who brings Hakka music to the mainstream

Birth name
: 黃連煜 (Huang Lian-yu)
Born: August 14, 1960
Birthplace: Miaoli County (Northern Taiwan)

Ayugo Huang is a Taiwanese music producer and singer-songwriter. He has been in the popular music circle for more than 20 years. Ayugo Huang sings Hakka folk songs and is flexible in using various musical tonalities, including folk songs, electronic sounds, reggae and jazz blues, to allow Hakka music to retain its original flavor while also displaying a refined and modern look. Huang is a regular nominee of the Golden Melody Awards. He won Best Hakka Album and Best Hakka Singer for the Hakka language albums "BANANA," "The Dirt Road (黃泥路)," and “Mountain Songs All Along the Road (山歌一條路)."

In 1992, Ayugo Huang and Bobby Chen (陳昇) jointly organized the New Formosa Band (新寶島康樂隊), which mainly sang Taiwanese and Hakka songs. His single song "The Passionate Man (多情兄)" is a mixture of Taiwanese and Hakka dialects that injected new musical elements into the Taiwanese music scene at the time. In the release of their fourth album, the New Formosa Band added a new member Chen Shih-lung (陳世隆), who is from the Paiwan indigenous tribe, to form a three-person group. They also added the music of Taiwan's indigenous people to their songs, which made their musical style even more diverse.

However, the lifestyle of holding singing performances over a long period of time made it difficult for Huang to concentrate on creating Hakka music, driving him to leave the band in 1997. During the time he was out of the entertainment circle, Huang opened a coffee shop at the Taipei National University of the Arts. Every week, he would buy a new CD and play it in the store. From time to time, he would have independent bands or student bands perform in the café. This slowly rekindled his desire to make music. Later he returned to music creation and began to release solo albums.

To find old Hakka folk songs, Huang went to China to collect traditional folk songs, and sorted out the rules of these orally communicated songs. After returning to Taiwan, he toured the island performing in the Hakka villages. Two years later, Huang turned these performances into his fourth personal album. Making under the concept of contemporary folk songs, "Mountain Songs All Along the Road" also recorded Huang’s journey of searching for his roots.

In 2017, Huang published his fifth solo album "The Dirt Road," which is a continuation of "Mountain Songs All Along the Road." This album compares the road that Hakka independent music has travelled to a muddy road, which is difficult to walk. It’s an album that integrated Hakka folk songs, Hakka Beiguan music and traditional Hakka rain prayer with blues, folk songs, rock, reggae, jazz, electronic dance music, world music and other styles.

Huang advocates that all Hakka songs are folk songs; Hakka folk songs are songs in life and without life, there is no mountain song. He lamented that because of modernization and changes in people’s lifestyle, folk songs are slowly disappearing. Therefore, he believes that the traditional Hakka folk songs should join the current point of view to give it new value, and the standard of singing should be clear, so that everyone can understand the songs and continue to sing them.