Indigenous Taiwanese singer Abao's "Kinakaian" ("Mother Tongue") emerged as the biggest winner at the 31st Golden Melody Awards in Taipei Saturday.
"Kinakaian" won Album of the Year, Best Indigenous Language Album, and the track "Thank You" clinched Song of the Year at the awards ceremony held at Taipei Music Center. The jury commended the album, saying that the unique performance of Abao, whose full name is Aljenljeng Tjaluvie, transcended the language barrier.
"I want to tell all Indigenous people: don't waste your talent but also don't rely just on your talent," the 39-year-old singer said in her acceptance speech.
She thanked everyone willing to listen to an album that they might not be familiar with.
"Through this album, I hope you can understand the life of a minority," she said. "I hope to foster more understanding and less misunderstanding." "If you don't get why this is the album of the year, please go ahead and listen to it. If you still don't understand it, listen to it a second time," Abao said with a laugh.
The 11-track album, released in December 2019, reflects the traditions of Indigenous people and covers a wide range of topics, such as food and the life of Indigenous children. Among the electronic and soulful vibe of the album, she also invited Taiwanese rapper DJ Didilong to feature on "tjakudain," where the duo presents a Paiwan-Taiwanese language cultural crossover track that tells the story of two lovers and the challenges they face because of their different ethnic backgrounds.
Another highlight of the album is the house-inspired track that shares the same title as the album, where Abao highlights the beauty of her native language.
No stranger to the Golden Melody Awards, the Paiwan R&B singer received an award for best duet in 2004 as a member of female duo Abao & Brandy. She received another award in 2017 for Best Indigenous Language Album with her album "Vavayan."
Abao's family is originally from Taitung County before they moved to the southern port city of Kaohsiung. Even though she grew up in Kaohsiung, Abao had said that she returned to her home village every summer and winter vacation so she wouldn't lose touch with her culture.