- 15 Aug 17
Already one of the songs of the new century, Brendan Graham’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ has been selected as the end title track in a 30-episode epic on the man who is credited – along with his daughters – as a founding figure, in the People’s Republic of China
‘You Raise Me Up’, performed by Martin Hurkens, has been chosen as the end title track in a major Chinese blockbuster TV series currently running in the People’s Republic of China. The lyrics of the song are written by the Irish songwriter, Brendan Graham.
The series – Charlie Soong:FATHER – is based on the life of Charlie Soong, who was born in 1863 and went on to become one of China’s most successful businessmen and who, with his family – in particular his three daughters – was responsible for China’s march towards democracy. The one-time Methodist minister married Ni Kwei-Tseng and their Shanghai-based family extended to six children, all of whom – like Charlie – were educated in the United States.
The eldest of his sons, T. V. Soong, later served as Finance Minister, Foreign Minister and the Governor of the Bank of China. His brothers, T. L. and T. A. (they were known by their initials) were also successful bankers and industrialists.
Charlie’s daughters were also both powerful in their own right and highly influential. Most prominent was the middle daughter Ching-ling (or Qingling), who controversially married Sun Yat-sen, who became the President of China, following the overthrow of the Q-ing dynasty in 1912. Estranged from Charlie as a result, she herself went on to become Vice Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, after her husband’s death.
Meanwhile, the youngest daughter Mei-ling married Chiang Kai-shek, who was responsible for a bloody military campaign against communists in China. Mei-ling subsequently became the ‘First Lady of China’. His daughters’ marriages and alleged motivations, including those of the eldest Ai-ling, have perhaps been best summarised in the Maoist saying "One loved money, one loved power, one loved her country."
With that as backdrop, in a major biographical work written by Sterling Seagrave, and entitled The Soong Dynasty, Charlie Soong himself has been depicted as the founding father of the People’s Republic. But there have also been links to the opium trade and prostitution, as well as a secretive association with US diplomats, among other less than savoury activities, providing more than enough drama, intrigue and controversy for what is seen as one of the biggest ever TV productions in the increasingly sophisticated sphere of Chinese TV drama.
In the 30-part series, Charlie is played by Tse Kwan-ho, an award-winning, 54 year-old, Hong Kong-born actor, who has starred in almost forty films since his debut in 1989, and as many major TV dramas.
The TV programme is a major production, which tells the complex story of the birth of the People’s Republic of China, through the prism of the lives and experiences of Charlie Soong and his family. Charlie Soong died in 1918 but his and his daughters’ legacy lives on in the China of today.
The use of 'You Raise Me Up' – a western song – as the end title song in all 30 episodes, demonstrates yet again the phenomenal reach of the song across both cultural and geographical divides and is just the most recent among a fresh series of high profile uses for the song, which was written by Irishman Brendan Graham and Norwegian, Rolf Lovland. In April, it was performed in the first ever East West Friendship Concert in Moscow; in May, it featured in the soundtrack to the new Netflix series Girlboss; that same month saw it recorded for the new album Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Songbook (produced by eleven-time Grammy winner Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds); and on May 28, it was sung, for the second time, at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington – with Russell Watson handling vocal duties on this occasion, backed by the US National Symphony Orchestra.