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Chinese language Christian Pop Star G.E.M.’s New Track Is Brave

In July 2022, the singer G.E.M., Chinese language identify 邓紫棋 (Deng Ziqi), launched her 14-track album Revelation. On August 9, the music video of the album’s first music, “Gloria,” was launched on-line. G.E.M. additionally recorded and launched a short video sharing her religious journey within the creation of the music.

Deng, nicknamed “China’s Taylor Swift,” is one in every of China’s hottest and profitable feminine singers. She is a Christian who has overtly talked about her religion on social media. She mentioned within the recorded message that “Gloria” was truly her actual English identify, given to her by her father when she was a toddler. She favored this identify very a lot since childhood “as a result of it seems like being stuffed with glory” and he or she named the music after her actual identify to “current the true me to everybody with out framing.”

The background of most scenes within the “Gloria” music video is a grey, desolate wasteland. The pc-generated imagery creates a vibe of the metaverse. The singer stands within the wasteland, with tears “falling into the wilderness.” She walks into the “Afterland” solely to search out it isn’t paradise however a spot stuffed with ache and numbness.

Nevertheless, the sunshine of hope gently shines by way of, and the singer hears a whisper from heaven that was “vague and therapeutic.” She slowly turns round and walks by way of ruins to a seaside the place the daybreak is rising. The background begins to vary colour. Because the singer is moved to tears and kneels to wish, the ocean elements. Because the lyrics of “I’m ready for you, ready so that you can come again” play, she walks towards a glowing door.

Deng mentioned that she hopes the visible results of the music video will create an “immersive expertise for the viewers as they stroll with me by way of these moments of ache, despair, and redemption.” She mentioned that the inspiration for your complete Revelation album got here from a supernatural expertise she encountered. Sooner or later, overwhelmed by disappointment, she was crying and praying within the lavatory. When she started buzzing a melody unconsciously within the bathe, she started to really feel it bringing her peace, transcending her circumstances.

The inspiration for an album emerged: She wished to make use of her new music to talk of her struggles, heartbreaks, and prayers, and to recollect how God answered prayers to redeem and bless her.

Strolling by way of the wasteland

G.E.M., now 31, grew up in Hong Kong. An alumna of Christian training, she realized to sing in her college choir. In 2008, on the age of 16, she debuted in Hong Kong together with her first solo EP “G.E.M.” and started touring around the globe.

In 2014, Deng entered the leisure business in mainland China and competed on the singing competitors present, I Am a Singer 2, a contest that despatched her reputation hovering throughout the nation. She is called the “Iron Lung Woman Singer” on account of her extensive vocal vary. She is the primary Chinese language-speaking singer whose music movies have exceeded 200 million views on YouTube, and the one Asian musician on Forbes’ 2016 checklist of “30 Under 30.”

However there have been tears and ache behind the glamor of success. Along with the critics and rumors that characterize the leisure business, G.E.M. additionally confronted warmth for her supposed political stance, although she didn’t like to speak about politics publicly. Some who help the Hong Kong pro-democracy motion accused her of supporting the then–chief government Leung Chun-ying, who they noticed because the Chinese language authorities’s pawn. On the opposite aspect, Chinese language censorship officers positioned her on a listing of “strictly controlled” individuals as a result of she prayed for Hong Kong “in bitter tears” in the course of the Occupy Central motion in 2014.

G.E.M. has spoken publicly about typically feeling bodily and mentally wasted and has damaged down at concert events a number of instances. However she additionally admitted on social media that it was her religion in God that stored her by way of the hardships of her profession and allowed her to develop in trials.

“I progressively realized that the end result isn’t a very powerful factor as a result of whether or not it’s a failure or a hit, I might achieve experiences both approach,” she mentioned. “I feel everyone seems to be a strolling witness to different folks.”

“Gloria” isn’t Deng’s first music that accommodates components of the Christian religion. She wrote and sung “Heartbeat” and “Walk on Water” with gospel implications earlier than. Within the lyrics of “Gloria,” Deng repeatedly talks about love utilizing Biblical language equivalent to “Don’t be afraid; there isn’t any concern in love” and “love by no means fails.”

Most Chinese language Christians recognize the music’s message

The discharge of the “Gloria” music video (MV) introduced out many discussions amongst Chinese language and abroad Chinese language Christians. In a latest livestream on the evangelism YouTube channel “All Issues Tea Home,” Cui Yu, a member of the Christian worship band and music writing workforce The Burning Bush, mentioned he admired G.E.M.’s excessive manufacturing values within the music video and the standard music composition. Cui was deeply moved by the picture of the Crimson Sea parting: “We learn concerning the Crimson Sea story within the bible typically, however the visible impact within the MV has such a robust inventive influence.”

Whereas he doesn’t contemplate himself a fan of her music, Chicago-based pastor Jiang Shaolong admired Deng’s braveness to make use of music to testify her Christian religion. “There are industrial and political dangers in as we speak’s China for a Christian artist to testify her religion publicly.” Jiang mentioned in the identical livestream. “Though Deng has participated in all kinds of common TV exhibits that may attain lots of of tens of millions of audiences, it’s unimaginable for her to be given any alternative to overtly witness her Christian religion on these exhibits. She knew that expressing her Christian religion within the music could trigger her to lose followers or be critically attacked, however she was decided to talk out utilizing her music.”

Deng’s use of biblical vocabulary to precise her Christian religion in her music could possibly be a superb “pre-evangelism work,” mentioned Jane Hao, additionally a member of “The Burning Bush” workforce. Hao additionally defended G.E.M. from Christians who criticized the music for not mentioning “God” or “Lord Jesus” straight: “Church buildings mustn’t depend on a Christian pop star to do the entire work of evangelism. Some non-believers could turn out to be inquisitive about Deng’s religion by way of her musical works, however it’s the accountability of the Christians round them to share the entire gospel with them.”

Kris Wang, elder of the Lansing Chinese language Church in Michigan and campus ministry chief who has been following and writing commentaries on popular culture, shared with CT, “It is extremely uncommon to see within the Chinese language pop music business {that a} singer would disclose her religion in songs and to generate concepts from the Bible for your complete album. There are examples in america that songwriters combine their religion into pop music, like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and DMX have accomplished. However in atheism-dominated China, doing so is progressive and artistic.”

“Deng Ziqi is a singer, not a theologian. It’s commendable that she presents religious encounters within the type of artwork and from a first-person perspective,” Christian creator Naxier mentioned in a WeChat article. “We will’t decide her work as cheap-grace gospel just because there isn’t any mentioning of sin and repentance within the music. We should always enable a murals to tackle one side of the Christian religion at a time.”

Based on Naxier’s interpretation, the MV is telling its viewers a narrative of redemption: Gloria was a scarred particular person, lured into false hope, dropping her identification and dignity as a human. After listening to the voice of God and turning to him, she is lastly full in her humanity. This music is a name to individuals who additionally reside within the wasteland to desert the disillusion of discovering a paradise in that world, to return to the love of God, and to enter the true paradise of God’s grace.

When Deng entered the leisure world, she gave herself a energetic stage identify, “G.E.M.,” which implies “Get Everyone Transferring.” Many amongst her Chinese language Christian followers are praying now that the love of God she witnesses by way of songwriting will get everyone moved—that her songs would transfer and luxury the hearts of many who’re nonetheless struggling within the wasteland.

Sean Cheng is Asia editor of Christianity Right now.

Translation by Yi-Ting Tsai

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