American Boy, Clay Garner, Becomes China's Justin
Clay Garner (or Gaoshan in Chinese) might be China’s answer to Justin Bieber. Through the powers of social media, the 18-year-old high school student has become famous among Chinese netizens after he posted homemade videos of himself singing Chinese pop songs on Youku. The videos have captured millions of views and the amateur musician has gained close to 30,000 Weibo followers (that number is still growing!). He has also appeared on a bunch of media, including Beijing TV and 56.com.
This trilingual boy, who has mastered Mandarin, English and Spanish, studied Chinese for three years and has a deep passion for China and Chinese culture. He covers a lot of Chinese songs including Jay Chow, and actively uploads videos on the Internet, ranging from his personal website, Weibo, 56.com and YouTube.
We got a chance to speak to Clay, who explained his love of Chinese pop songs.
“I actually love the sound of Chinese pop music, especially the chord progressions and the lyrics of artists like Jay Chou and Wanting Qu. I think there's more flexibility writing songs in Mandarin because a lot can be said emotionally with such a short phrase--it's like classical Chinese poetry.” Clay told us.
He even writes his own Chinese songs, check out his original below.
Clay is passionate about singing, songwriting and playing guitar. He has been doing live performances back in the States since 2011 and he is now ready to explode in China. In June, he flew to Beijing from the States to appear on talk shows and give performances in TV programs and a concert. His talent is not limited to pop songs, but also R&B and traditional Chinese styles. He once performed and collaborated with the famous Chinese comedian Guo Degang.
However, Clay is well aware of the difficulties.
“Honestly, although it is probably easier for me to become famous in China than most Chinese people (I have been invited to perform on most of China's TV stations already), it is MUCH harder for me to be taken seriously as a musician. This is a struggle that I face everyday as I write songs and produce recordings/videos for my audience. My Chinese is obviously not perfect, but I work very hard everyday to improve it and I am still very young. My dream is not just to be well known in China, but to be respected as a Chinese musician and to make genuinely good song."
In terms of future plans, Clay says: “I would without a doubt continue to do music in China. Ultimately I want to be the connection, musically and culturally, that facilitates a greater understanding between students in China and students in America.”
What the media is saying:
Youku: Gaoshan, the 18-year-old American boy, loves writing songs, singing, playing guitar and learning Chinese. He’s good at covering Jay Chow and Leehom Wang’s songs, while his voice is very similar to Leehom’s. He has started to produce his original Chinese songs, which have been warmly received by netizens.
56.com: The 18-year-old American high school student, Gaoshan covers “In My Tune” – he appears in my world and brings me surprises that I can’t hide my love for him. He’s a good singer and he’s so handsome. Will I tell you I have all of his videos?
What Weibo users are saying:
It’s great. Quickly master Chinese!
A handsome expat can sing “In My Tune” so well with accurate pronunciation and all of that charm. Gorgeous!
Not everyone gave Clay a big hand of applause
Many Chinese people can sing well, how can this be a Weitopic?
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