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January 15, 2010

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Music dream that draws on art

A regular at Bar 288 on Taikang Road is "My Hero" star Shocann Chen. He tells Nie Xin about his upcoming free art and music event at M50.

Shocann Chen, a Canadian-born Chinese, shot to fame last year in Dragon TV's "My Show" when he reached the final round and placed No. 4.

His somewhat feminine looks, fashionable style and sensitive voice and sincerity have touched many fans.

The 26-year-old's "Back to Classics," a new-concept art and music event, gets underway on January 23 at M50 art hub on Moganshan Road. The free live event will include other performers and styles, including movie music, art, photography and other genres.

Born in Canada, Chen came to Shanghai in 2007 for a PhD at Fudan University's Journalism School. He opened an advertising and communications company.

He never had music or voice training but in 2008, he started his music career as a pop singer at the Melting Pot (288 Taikang Road) club, also called Bar 288.

Chen still remembered his first show in late 2007, when he was just a customer.

He sang "Chong Dong" ("Actuation"), a well-know song by Taiwan rock band Power Station, accompanied by Zhang Jia, a singer at the club.

At the time the stage of Bar 288 was supported by the "iron triangle" - Zhang, Wang Hao and Li Cheng, all notable local pop musicians.

Since Zhang and Li left Bar 288 to pursue their careers elsewhere, Shocann has become one of Wang's most important partners at Bar 288.

Chen performs twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday. Every Friday he performs at G-Haus Club in the Galaxy Hotel in Hongqiao area.

Many customers go to the club just to hear him, but at first he didn't have much support.

"Many customers doubted his skills, especially his tone and pitch accuracy," says Wang.

"I was very nervous when I first performed at 288, and the experience has matured me and my music," says Chen.

What made Chen famous overnight was his signing on "My Show" singing talent contest.

Chen took part based on a friend's recommendation in September 2009. The competition was fierce.

"My life since then has changed. Now when I go out, I'm recognized by strangers and asked to take pictures with them," says Chen.

His fans range from high-school students to 80-year-old women.

His "My Show" performance earned him invitations to sign recording contracts, but he turned them down, to the surprise of many people.

"I will release my own album one day, but I don't want to be limited too much in my music ideas," says Chen.

Chen takes control of his music, from the songs he sings to the style of his performances.

So far he has held three tiny concerts at Bar 288, singing the songs he likes and performing in the way he enjoys.

He puts more and more of his own ideas into his shows.

"The first two were just singing and meeting with fans," he says. "In the third, I cooperated with other singers and incorporated painted artworks."

He looks forward to his "Back to Classics" concert.

"It's not only a music concert, it's more like an art festival," says Chen.

The event features three main elements - music, exhibition and space.

"The event is devoted to creative energy combined with the humanistic art and live music. It will be a voice for those who love music art and new art in Shanghai," says Chen.

Various art genres will be featured.

An exhibition of the photographs of Zhang Songhua will be held before the music show in the No. 7 Art Center of M50.

Theme songs from old movies are recomposed into various music styles like pop, jazz, rock, bossa nova, swing and classical.

When audiences enjoy the music, episodes of old movies will be screened.

Australian-Chinese classical pianist William Chen and the band from Ye Hai (Leaf Sea) Music & Guitar Making Studio will perform.

The six-member band has three guitars - an electric guitar, a wooden acoustic guitar and a jazz guitar.

Zhang Jia, the former singer at Bar 288, will also perform, says Shoccan who is very enthusiastic.

Chen regards himself as a "half-musician."

"During my performing in Bar 288, I have come to know many Shanghai musicians who are talented but not well-known by the public," he says.

He is planning more music events like "Back to Classic" to provide platforms for those talented musicians.

"Every time I sing the same song with different live bands, different feelings will be presented - that's the charm of the show," he says.

Chen can handle many types of music. Many composers invite him to sing their works, in various styles.

"Some want me to sing powerful rock. I sometimes sing soft songs from Tanya Tsai or Cheer Chen as well," says Chen who was once fascinated by reggae and Brazilian jazz.

Every time Chen ends a show, he asks the taxi driver to turn off the radio and leave him in peace.

"I have background music in my mind, even when I am walking along," he says.

Date: January 23, 3-10pm?(3-6pm for exhibition, 7-9pm for concert)

Venue: No. 7 Art Center, 50 Moganshan Rd

Admission: Free

Tel: 1391-8108-238 (Xiao Fan) What others say about Shocann Chen's music and skill Wang Hao

Renowned Shanghai independent pop musician Many customers at Bar 288 (Taiking Road) doubted his singing skill at the beginning, especially his tone accuracy. But he has apparently been making major progress in his live show.

Shocann has a special music feeling that's hard to ignore or replace. Not all singers can perform Soda Green's "A Little Love Song" so perfectly. Shen Xiaocen

Renowned pop musician; on the 2009 jury in "My Show" Every time I listen to Shocann's singing, I have different surprises. He's one of my favorites. Antonio Chen

Famous Taiwanese music composer and producer; General Manager of SUM Entertainment; on the 2009 jury in "My Show" Shocann's songs really touch me, making me forget his singing skill and just feel the emotion.


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