U.K. Singer Bella Hardy’s Love Letter to Yunnan


It was winter 2015, the UK folk musician Bella Hardy first came to Yunnan and stayed in the land of "the south of cloud" for 6 weeks in which she loved the beautiful nature and friendly people here. And this May, Bella came back to her ever beloved city Kunming to compose the music that inspired her and of course, to meet her lovely friends and to enjoy life in this eternal spring city. 

Bella Hardy

Born and raised in Edale in Derbyshire, UK, Bella has set her foot on more than 60 cities in the world.

Folk Singer of the Year 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

Winner of the Best Original Song in 2012 for “The Herring Girl”

Founder of the female fiddle group with Eliza Carthy

Bella Hardy, who loves stories and people, and for her, these are what folk music is all about. As a singer and song writer, Bella Hardy also loves poetry, and she got inspiration from Chinese Poems and she writes lyrics based on her own feelings and poems.

(Meeting local traditional musician/Bella Hardy)

In winter 2015, she came to Yunnan as a singer from British Council and PRS Foundation in residence. She went to local markets, watched Dian Ju (Yunnan Opera) in one of the largest markets Zhuanxin Market in Kunming, Green Lake and she traveled to Jianshui and Mengzi during her stay. Through the high mountains and rice terraces, in which she met local traditional musicians. What’s more, she digged ginger from dirt with local farmers, which made her very emotional when thinking about the women with their smile and hardwork in the field. Local musician played Erhu to her and she learned the Toast Song from Yi people. She was overwhelmed by the generousness and kindness of local people since the first day she arrived in Yunnan.

(Rice Terrace in Yuanyang/Bella Hardy)

While she was sitting in Yuanyang Rice Terrace one night, she looked up the sky and she saw stars were shining and blinking. And she wrote the song “Stars” right after. “Yunnan, your stars are so beautiful, and some of your stars are my stars…”

About Kunming

(Bella's handwriting on her notebook)

Xishan (Western Mountain)

“Xishan, or Western Mountains. This range of hills lie along the side of the lake Dian Chi across from the sprawling city of Kunming. It is known locally as the sleeping woman, or ‘Sleeping Beauty’. This is the view northwards from Luohan Peak. Below, down the mountainside are a chain of Buddhist and Taoist temples and the Longmen ‘Dragon Gate’ grottoes, with spectacular pathways build from 1782-1854 carved into and through the edge of the rockface. “—Bella Hardy


Cuihu (Green Lake) Park

(local people dancing and singing in Cuihu Park/Bella Hardy)

(Cuihu Lake/Bella Hardy)


In terms about her resident city Kunming, Bella said: “I feel a great affection for Kunming. This is my second visit, so a lot of it is familiar and feels like home. I find the people are very friendly and are willing to help me all the time. I also love the weather, it is much warmer and more sunny than my home in the UK! Green Park is my favourite place in Kunming, I like to watch everyone dancing and listen to the music at the weekends. This is very special”.

(Writing songs in Kunming)

(Come back to Kunming)

Bella Hardy wrote the Toast Song which was inspired by Yi People

Guest from faraway places, friends from four seas

Though we don’t meet often we are still good friends

Yi tradition bids us, open the xing yong wine

We have so many good wines, all for our dear friends

Drink a cup of wine please, drink a cup of wine please

(Image Credits: Bella Hardy)