|Major Areas of Influence:||Taiwan, China|
|Birth Name||Zhang Hui Mei (Huimei)|
|Other Name:||Chung Wai Mui|
|Birth Date:||August 9, 1972|
|Family:||Mother, 3 older brothers, 3 older sisters, 2 younger sisters|
|Ethnicity:||Puyuma (Taiwan aborigine)|
|Chinese Zodiac:||Rat (Water)|
|Languages Spoken:||Japanese, Taiwanese (Painan dialect), Mandarin, English|
|Hobbies:||Hunting, Jogging Taekwando (black belt)|
|Record Company:||Warner Music|
|Favorite Food:||BBQ, fat Meat|
|Favorite Singers:||Sting, Janet Jackson, TLC, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner|
|Favorite Colors:||Black, Blue|
A-Mei was born in 1972 in a mountainous region of eastern Taiwan, the third youngest in a family of nine. A genuine princess, her parents were tribal leaders of the Puyuma, an aboriginal clan. Like indigenous cultures around the world, Taiwan’s natives have been displaced by an influx of settlers from Mainland China. Recently, after years of discrimination, and economic disenfranchisement, there is popular interest in the culture of Taiwan’s aborigines (who make up less than 2% of the population). This could be in large part to the fame of Hui Mei Zhang, better known to her fans as A-Mei (a name she does not use in her personal life).
Growing up, song was always a part of her daily life, apparently a trademark of the Puyuma culture. Her parents encouraged her professionally and in 1994 she competed, and took first prize, on the televised “Five Lights Singing Contest. Soon she began performing in Taipei with her cousin’s rock band “Relax” and began to develop a fan base who started referring to her as A-Mei.
IT was after singing the theme song for a TV show that she landed her first record contract with the small record company, Forward Music. Popular male singer, Zhang Yu-Sheng sought her out for a duet, “The One Who Loved Me Most, Hurt Me The Most,” and shortly thereafter her first album, Jei Mei was released in 1996.
Within two weeks the first single, “Sister”, hit #3 on the Taiwan pop charts and stayed there for several weeks, an almost unheard of overnight success.
On May 20,2000 A-Mei was invited to sing Taiwan’s ‘national’ anthem at the inauguration ceremony of President Chen Shui-bian. Without realizing the repercussions, she accepted.
For any Taiwanese singer, the biggest most accessible market for their music is mainland China. China wants reunification with Taiwan, and those opposed to the idea are harshly criticized and called “splitters”. A-Mei’s singing of Taiwan’s national anthem was seen as a political declaration in support of Taiwanese independence. A-mei claims to be completely apolitical and was surprised at the reaction, including being banned from performing in China.
After two years, the ban was lifted. Nevertheless, A-Mei’s tour of China in August 2004 was plagued with protesters demanding that she sing the Chinese National anthem. One concert had to be cancelled and A-mei broke down in tears at her Beijing appearance saying, The pressure I felt for this concert is 1,000 times greater than past concerts.