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Ginalina: Bringing Her Taiwan Roots Into Her Latest Album

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Photo Credit: Canadian Beats

Folk singer. Songwriter. Canadian. Polyglot.

All of these titles belong to Gina Lam, also known by her stage name Ginalina. In November 2022, she released her latest album titled Going Back: Remembered and Remixed Family Folk Songs, Vol. 1

As the name implies, she filled the album with Asian folk songs. Why? Margaret Gallagher on CBC's North by Northwest interviewed her to find out the answer and more. 

But first, who is Ginalina?

Ginalina is a Vancouver-born singer/songwriter known for her West Coast Family Folk songs. Music has always been a part of her life. From a young age, her brother encouraged her to play the violin, and later in high school, she also learned the guitar. For Ginalina, music was a way to work through and express her feelings starting in high school and continuing in her engineering degree.

Although music has been a huge part of her life since childhood, her professional career didn’t start until 2016. Since then, she has won two Western Canadian Music Awards and has been nominated for three Juno Awards and four Canadian Folk Music Awards. As well, her song Small but Mighty was featured in the CBC Music in the Classroom Challenge along with 24 other Canadian musicians. 

Ginalina’s music is known for being kid-friendly, so it’s no surprise that she’s also an award-winning children’s author.

Photo Credit: Canadian Beats

Now that you know who Ginalina is, what’s so special about her latest album?

As mentioned above, Ginalina is a polyglot. In other words, she speaks multiple languages, including English, French, Mandarin, and Tawainese. 

Her latest album shows off these multilingual skills. Not only are her songs inspired by traditional Asian folk songs, but she also alternates between English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. 

Why did she create this album?

According to Ginalina, she wanted to connect on another level with her parents, who grew up in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada. Ginalina grew up speaking English and Mandarin, but she never learned her parents’ native language of Taiwanese. Only once she learned the language did she truly begin to understand her parents and their culture. It was like finally finding a missing puzzle piece.

Not only did Ginalina not learn Taiwanese growing up, but she also missed out on her parents’ childhood songs.

“Certainly these songs ... would have been their childhood songs and after immigrating to Canada and taking on the responsibilities of all those things, I don't think they had time to necessarily consider bringing these songs into my life.” - Ginalina

Now that she’s older, Ginalina knew she wanted to reconnect with her roots in Taiwan. Furthermore, she wanted to make it accessible for children, whether they have Asian heritage or they’re just curious. 

“I grew up here in Canada and now I've got my West Coast roots. But I thought, "How are we going to bring this kind of nostalgic feeling to even those people who've never experienced that?” - Ginalina

With the help of her parents, Going Back: Remembered and Remixed Family Folk Songs, Vol. 1. was born. 

What’s next for Ginalina?

Unsurprisingly, Ginalina isn’t one to turn down an opportunity to perform modern and traditional folk songs. As such, Ginalina will be teaming up with the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble on Feb. 26 to do just that. She will be performing at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver Chinatown.

If you want to read CBC’s full interview with CBC, check it out here! Or check out a sampler from her latest album below! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbtF9N8Cy00