NANJING, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- It has been an unforgettable Spring Festival for Hu Qiuxiang. The 27-year-old migrant worker had her dream come true as she made her stage debut at a festival gala show.
Working as an equipment operator at an electronics plant in Suzhou, eastern China's Jiangsu Province, Hu never gave up her childhood dream of becoming a singer.
Her chance came eight years ago when her friends introduced her to a newly established band -- Changsanjiao (Yangtze River Delta) Migrant Workers Art Ensemble.
She started to receive vocal training and has been working hard to improve herself. "I am almost practicing all the time. I sing at home and work and even when traveling between the two," she said.
Hard work pays off. She got the chance to sing at the Spring Festival gala in an art and sports center of Suzhou on Jan. 26, jointly staged by local authorities and the band. Around 1,000 audience members enjoyed the gala, and the live stream of the show received 170,000 views online.
"One of our aims is to help people like Hu realize their dreams," said Xu Xiaomeng, founder of the troupe.
Fifteen years ago, 20-year-old Xu bid farewell to his hometown in Henan Province and started to work in an electronic factory in Suzhou. Bored by the monotony of factory life, he would amuse himself by singing.
After leaving the factory in 2007, he changed jobs many times working in a cafe, at bars and then a tourist company. However, the one thing that did not change was Xu's hobby of singing.
"We decided to sing for our fellow migrant workers," he said. In 2010, he set up the troupe in Mudu Town of Suzhou. Members in the band have written dozens of songs, mostly about their own lives in the cities.
With the help of government departments and individuals, they put on over 60 shows in places such as factories and private schools for migrant workers' children. They released their first album in 2013.
Many of their earlier songs, such as "The Ugly Duckling," describe the hardships they encountered in the city and their desire to realize their dreams. More recent work, such as "My City, My Home," mostly expresses their sense of belonging and growing confidence.
"We want to show others the changes happening to us and our gratitude for those changes through song," Xu said. "At the beginning, I was only making about 1,000 yuan (147 U. S. dollars) a month, now I am married and have my own car."
Some of the members have already bought houses and set up their families in Suzhou, according to Xu.
China has around 280 million rural migrant workers in cities who have played important roles in the country's urbanization.
Governments of all levels have been making efforts to improve their wellbeing by measures such as supervising payment of their wages and organizing professional training.
Hu Qiuxiang will go back to work in the factory on Wednesday. She is looking for more performances and singing activities in the new year.
"We plan to publish a second album and three new songs this year. Hopefully, I can join in the production of some of the songs," she said.