A Tribute to the Immortal Singer, Kim Hyun-shik

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A Tribute to the Immortal Singer, Kim Hyun-shik

Kim Hyun-shik, the legendary 1980s rock singer who died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1990 at the age of 33, remains a beloved icon for a generation that grew up on his music and those who only discovered his remarkable talent in recent years. Now, twenty popular singers collaborated on a tribute album of Mr. Kim's best-loved rock ballads and love songs, which was released on Nov. 14.

The album, which includes 27 covers of Mr. Kim's hits, commemorates the 10th anniversary of his death, and is evidence of his enduring presence. Nicknamed the "messenger of love" and the "wandering minstrel," Mr. Kim won over his audience with his vocal range and poetic, emotional lyrics.

"He was a remarkable singer. Today, there might be many singers who can sing well, but they cannot reach into our souls like he could," said Sun Sung-won, a music critic. "His music was refreshing, like a sudden rain shower during the dry season."

The new recordings give Mr. Kim's classics a contemporary treatment, while leaving intact his vocal signatures. The contributing musicians interpret the songs in a variety of styles and the album boasts many different vocal textures. From the upbeat "Bystreet," performed by the chart-storming Yoo Seung-joon, to one of the nation's favorite songs by Mr. Kim, "My Love Beside Me," sung by Kim Cho-han. Overall, the level of musicianship and arrangements on the album are impeccable.

Cho Sung-mo is likely the best-known name on the album, contributing a rendition of "Dream of Summer Night." Choi Min-soo, who found fame acting in this year's blockbuster movie "Libera ME" sings "I Loved You," as well as contributing certain narrative tributes to the late singer between songs.

All the artists that contributed songs to the album recorded them together, affording them a chance to remember Mr. Kim not only in their respective songs, but as a group, in a recording session that also served as a kind of memorial ceremony to the popular performer. "Lim Jae-bum, a singer with a distinctive high-pitched tone similar to that of Mr. Kim, moved the other performers when he recorded 'Like Rain, Like Music,'" said Kim Hyun-mee, a publicist for Warner Music Korea, the production company. And musicians listened in respectful silence while the band Shinchon Blues - of which Mr. Kim was once a member - recorded their heartfelt version of "After a Long Time."

The album has not sold as many copies as expected due, in part, to several postponed release dates. "I'm afraid that the promotion of the album has not been very effective," said Lee Sang-min, who works in a record shop in Seoul. "Many people don't even know that the album has already been released and are surprised when they see it on display."

The musicians who recorded the album plan to hold a commemorative concert for Mr. Kim and erect a monument in his honor, said Warner Music Korea.


by Kim Jae-seon

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