Elderly rock musician turned welfare activist

Dong Yunrong, founder of the rock band Yaogun Nainai, was selected to be the 2022 Chinese filial piety figure during the 8th Chinese Filial Piety Cultural Festival in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province last week, according to chinanews.com.

Dong, now 78, has actively participated in public welfare undertakings and brought joy to her audience for more than a dozen years.

In 2007, Dong picked up guitar after her husband passed away, and sought others to play with her.

Two years later, a band was established by Dong and her peers under the name Quyuan Fenghe, referencing one of the 10 scenic spots of the Hangzhou West Lake where the band’s rehearsals often took place.

“Our members have always been mainly composed of the elderly, and now the average age is close to 70,” said Dong.

As the band became famous, they started to appear on TV shows and a production team suggested that the band should go for younger style music.

Dong and her peers eventually decided to try out the style of rock and roll, and changed the band name to Yaogun Nainai.

“At first I didn’t know much about rock music, but later on I gradually found the feel for it,” said Dong.

The band also had to add new instruments such as drums, electric guitar and bass to accommodate the new style.

In 2011, Dong and two other members of the band were invited to perform for a public welfare activity for the first time at a school for the blind in Hangzhou.

As soon as the students heard the music and performance on stage, they got excited and sang along.

“After that performance, I learned that I can help others just by playing guitar and singing,” said Dong, adding that she was deeply touched by the students’ love for music.

Since then, Dong and her band have participated in all sorts of public welfare activities. They took their performances to communities, welfare homes and orphanages, and have used their music to bring comfort to many.

“In the process of volunteering and performing for welfare activities, I sometimes simply forget about my age,” said Dong.

Dong does not believe the elderly to be a demographic group that can only passively wait for and receive the services of others.

Since last year, Yaogun Nainai has been cooperating with Hangzhou’s “blue vest” volunteer program aimed at helping more elderly people learn to use smart phones and identify scams.

“I think the elderly should keep up with current trends. So while we perform like this, we are also helping others who are of our age,” said Dong.