Across China: Former migrant builds music career in the country
NANCHANG, April 23 (Xinhua) -- In the bar that occupies his former country home, Luo Minghua plays his guitar and sings a song he wrote himself.
"This is my hometown, not beautiful when I had to leave. With flowers falling to the ground, the house was left shabby and dusty. This is my hometown, now shiny and pretty. With birds singing songs, it so fascinates me," Luo sings.
Tourists drink beer while listening and occasionally clapping.
"I sang from my heart, because it's my own hometown, and my own experience," said Luo, 44.
Luo was born in Dalong, a mountainous village in Dayu County in east China's Jiangxi Province. Residents once lived in clay houses in extreme poverty.
China's national rural revitalization drive has helped draw city dwellers to the countryside for rural tourism, and improving conditions in rural areas have also attracted migrant workers back to their home villages.
Luo became interested in music as a child, when he often heard farmers singing while he was herding cows.
To make ends meet, he left his family and worked in cities like many other villagers. Some 70 percent of village houses had been left empty five to six years ago, said Lan Shanrong, Party chief of Dalong Village. "One definitely could not support oneself by singing," he recalled.
Luo sold bean curd and later worked at construction sites in cities. Meanwhile, he signed up for singing contests across China. The income could barely cover his expenses for life and music.
It was during this period that another local villager, Tang Xiangyang, returned home to set up a tourist resort there with savings from his mining business.
"The green mountains, clean rivers, fresh air and peaceful environment are all precious to urbanites, but the reason I started the tourism business was not only to woo people from cities, but to attract locals to return," Tang said.
In 2012, when Luo returned home to repair his house after flood damage, he was impressed by the new and renovated houses. His village had become part of the Yashan tourist resort.
Fed up with an unstable life in the city, Luo came back home.
"Being away for years made me feel lonely sometimes and guilty toward my family members," he said, adding he was not around when his parents passed away.
Luo ran a lime putty sales business until 2015, when a gold prize he won in a singing contest in Guangdong Province drew Tang's attention.
Encouraged by Tang, Luo converted his house into a "bicycle bar" to attract cycling tourists. He was invited to form a band to perform at the resort. The band also accepts invitations for commercial performances.
The bar's income and the band's salary total a combined 60,000 yuan (9,533 U.S. dollars) a year. His wife runs a restaurant at the resort, which is also fairly profitable.
Since returning home, Luo has written more than 30 songs.
"The resort has given me the chance to realize my dream of being a singer. I will try to sing better, write more songs and contribute more to the resort as well as my hometown," he said.