Mark Levine’s Songs of China

In January 2014, Mark took part in the Spring Festival gala for migrant workers on Shaanxi Television. His song Don’t Forget the Migrant Workers calls on people to spare a thought for those who, while contributing so much to China’s economic development, continue to live in great hardship.

Working as a rescue volunteer after the 1989 earthquake in California’s San Francisco Bay area, Mark came to understand the great sorrow of people affected by earthquakes. His song Earthquake Earthquake was written to commemorate the tragic Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 and to laud the resilience of Wenchuan people.

Mark likes to share experiences with people and a common question he asks those he meets is, “Where are you from?” However, it is interesting for him to discover that most of the people he meets in Beijing are from different parts of China. “Why do they leave their homes and family members? What are they striving for?” he often wondered. He soon found the answer and wrote his findings in the song The Ones They Call Beipiao, which refers to the large numbers of people from all over China and the world who come to Beijing to realize their dreams.

I came to Beijing from my home to work hard for my dreams.

I know I’m not the only one, there are many more it seems.

The number it has grown so large, they’ve given us a name.

No matter where we come from, Beipiao are all the same.

The life it can be thrilling, with great wonders in our view.

While other times we’re a little scared that our dreams may not come true.

But either way we keep on, ‘cause we know here we can try

To reach for stars not in the sky, but shining brightly in our eyes.

Mark Levine likes to see himself as a bridge between “foreigners” and the Chinese, and he feels great pride in this role. “I just do what I deem important and meaningful.”

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