Sneha Girap (Editor)

Zhou Xuan

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Chinese name  周璇
Genre(s)  Shidaiqu
Partner  Zhu Huaide
Occupation  Singer, actress
Role  Singer

Birth name  Su Pu (蘇璞)
Name  Zhou Xuan
Pinyin  Zhou Xuan (Mandarin)
Years active  1935-57
Spouse  Yan Hua (m. 1938–1941)
Zhou Xuan httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Born  August 1, 1918 Changzhou, Jiangsu, China (1918-08-01)
Died  September 22, 1957, Shanghai, China
Movies  Street Angel, Night Inn, Children of Troubled Times, Sorrows of the Forbidden City, Dream of the Red Chamber
Similar People  Li Li‑Hua, Lin Dai, Yuan Muzhi, Bu Wancang, Huang Zuolin

zhou xuan blooming flowers full moon

Zhou Xuan (August 1, 1918 – September 22, 1957), also romanized as Chow Hsuan, was an iconic Chinese singer and film actress. By the 1940s, she had become one of China's seven great singing stars. She was the best known of the seven, nicknamed the "Golden Voice", and had a concurrent movie career until 1953. She recorded more than 200 songs and appeared in over 40 films in her career.


Zhou Xuan Zhou Xuan also romanized as Chow Hsuan popular Chinese singer

Early life

Zhou Xuan Zhou Xuan Songs Shanghai Night Chinese Folk Songs CD

Zhou was born Su Pu (蘇璞), but was separated from her natural parents at a young age and raised by adoptive parents. She spent her entire life searching for her biological parents but her parentage was never established until after her death.

Zhou Xuan Zhou Xuan Dont Sing 1947 YouTube

According to later family research, a relative who was an opium addict took her at the age of 3 to another city and sold her to a family named Wang, who named her Wang Xiaohong. She was later adopted by a family named Zhou, changing her name to Zhou Xiaohong.

Zhou Xuan CCTVEnglish Channeldocumentary

At the age of 13, she took Zhou Xuan as her stage name, 'Xuan' (璇) meaning beautiful jade in Chinese.


Zhou Xuan Songs of Zhou Xuan Lovely Songs

In 1932, Zhou began acting as a member of Li Jinhui's Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe. When she was fourteen, she won second prize in a singing contest in Shanghai and was given the nickname "Golden Voice" (金嗓子) for her effortless high-pitched melodies.

Zhou began her film career in 1935, and she achieved stardom in 1937 when director Yuan Muzhi cast her as one of the leads as a singing girl in Street Angel. Zhou rapidly became the most famous and marketable popular singer in the gramophone era up to her death, singing many famous tunes from her own movies.

Between 1946 and 1950, she often went to Hong Kong to make films such as "All-Consuming Love" (長相思), "Hua wai liu ying" (花外流鶯), "Qinggong mishi" (清宮秘史), and "Rainbow Song" (彩虹曲). After introducing "Shanghai Nights" (夜上海) in 1949, Zhou returned to Shanghai. She spent the next few years in and out of a mental institutions owing to frequent breakdowns. Through the years, Zhou led a complicated and unhappy life marked by her failed marriages, illegitimate children, and suicide attempts. Zhou's first husband was the composer Yan Hua (严华, 1912-1992), who wrote and sometimes also performed songs with her.

Having made a total of 43 movies, her favourite film was always Street Angel. This contained two theme songs: "Four Seasons Song" (四季歌) and "The Wandering Songstress", which enjoyed long-lasting popularity. Other well-known songs by Zhou Xuan include "When Will You Return?", "Shanghai Nights" (title song from the film of the same name), "Yellow Leaves Dancing in Autumn Wind" (黃葉舞秋風), "Forever Smile" (永遠的微笑), "Hundred Flower Song" (百花歌), "Advice" (叮嚀), "Where Can the Soul Mate be Found" (知音何處尋), and "Picking Betel Nuts" (採檳榔).


In 1957 she died in Shanghai in a mental asylum at the age of 39 during the Anti-Rightist Movement. A possible cause of death may be encephalitis following a nervous breakdown.

Zhou Xuan was survived by 2 sons, Zhou Wen and Zhou Wei, born of different fathers. According to Zhou Wen's biography, the younger son, Zhou Wei, was the son of Tang Di (唐棣), while the father of Zhou Wen is unknown.

Zhou Wei currently lives in Toronto performing at times in the TTC subways, and participating in various musical projects, including teaching. He is known as a flautist. He has two daughters, both musicians. The elder of the two, Zhou Xiaoxuan, is a classical pianist trained at Concordia University and now living in Beijing.

Cultural legacy

To this day, Zhou Xuan's songs still remain a staple in many Golden Oldies collections in Mandarin popular music.

There have been 2 biographies written by Zhou Xuan's surviving family members. The book My Mother Zhou Xuan (我的媽媽周璇) was written by Zhou Wei and his wife Chang Jing (常晶); while a later book, Zhou Xuan Diary (周璇日記), was written by Zhou Wen.

Biography controversy

After Zhou Wen's biography was published, Zhou Wei accused Zhou Wen for altering Zhou Xuan's diary and copying the contents in an attempt to mislead readers into distorting the image of Zhou Xuan. The rebuttal also revealed that Zhou Wen had hated Zhou Wei since youth. Zhou Wen was sent for adoption after birth, followed by alleged dark influences. Zhou Wei then legally inherited Zhou Xuan's wealth over Zhou Wen.


An adaptation of the life of Zhou Xuan was TVB's Song Bird in 1989, starring Nadia Chan as Zhou Xuan and Leon Lai as her lover. In this series, Xuan's songs were re-written in Cantonese and sung by Chan. She sang the duets with Lai in the program while under the limits of Crown Records (娛樂唱片). Deric Wan replaced Lai's vocals on the soundtrack album.

Another adaptation, based on Zhou Wei's biography, is the Chinese serial titled Zhou Xuan (周璇), starring Cecilia Cheung. This version of the story was accused by Zhou Wei as a false representation of Zhou Xuan and damaging to the reputation of the Zhou family.


  • 狂歡之夜 (1935)
  • Street Angel (馬路天使, 1937)
  • 西廂記 (1940)
  • 孟麗君 (1940)
  • Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦 (1944)
  • Night Inn 夜店 (1947)
  • 長相思 (1947)
  • 清宮秘史 (1948)
  • 花外流鶯 (1948)
  • 歌女之歌 (1948)
  • 莫負青春 (1949)
  • 花街 (1950)
  • References

    Zhou Xuan Wikipedia