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February 22, 2011

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Usher aiming to impress

WITH the R&B superstar setting his sights on the Shanghai stage next month, Yao Minji finds out what Usher's Chinese fans can expect.

Sizzling hot singer and recent Grammy winner Usher plans to give his fans in Shanghai "an experience of their lifetime" as his "OMG World Tour" stops for one night at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on March 12.

Tickets for the gig, one of the only two Asian stops that have been confirmed (the other is Dubai), are priced from 280 yuan (US$43) to 1,280 yuan.

The US star recently won his third Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and second Best Contemporary R&B Album, totaling his Grammy Awards to seven.

The 32-year-old singer, whose real name is Usher Raymond IV, performed his first Chinese gig in Beijing last summer, thrilling the audience with his signature dance and club vibes. He took the fans by surprise by singing a Chinese pop song in Mandarin with Taiwanese singer/songwriter Wong Lee-hom, the night's guest performer.

In an e-mail interview with Shanghai Daily, the multi-platinum selling artist expressed his satisfaction with the Beijing gig, and his hopes to achieve even more with the upcoming Shanghai appearance.

"China has been a market that I have always been popular in but haven't had the opportunity to do a lot of touring in. So every chance I get to come here, I want to impress the audience," he says.

"Working with Lee-hom and others yet again is an indication that I really want my fans there to know that I love melting our world together and I love the culture, both philanthropically and musically, of Chinese artists."

The "OMG World Tour," which started last November to accompany his album Raymond v. Raymond, has already passed through the United States and European countries. The setlist features all of his hits including chart toppers such as "U Remind Me," "You Make Me Wanna," "Nice and Slow," "Burn," "Caught Up," "Yeah!" and "OMG," among many award-winning songs.

"It was an incredible experience that I still remember. I'm actually thinking about flying to Shanghai to have it again this time," says 23-year-old salesperson Tiffany Wang, who went to the Beijing concert with her friends.

"I always love his songs in clubs and we always sing his songs at karaoke parlors, but it was a completely different feeling to see him live on stage, to hear the beats so clearly and to see his dances so closely. I hope that he chooses an audience member to go on stage this time, like he has done on other stops of the tour."

Usher found that at times, the Chinese audience would not applaud when he was performing, out of courtesy. And he hopes to let them know it is okay to do so, and welcomes fans to have a great time and enjoy themselves.

"I plan on doing a different variation of my show. There has been a different variation from America to the UK and now from the UK to Australia, and it will be a different one in China as well," he adds.

"My show doesn't only rely on the technical element of it, it is physical. It does require my fans to sing with me and to really join in my performance."

Having been recognized as both an R&B and pop artist, Usher has found it difficult at times to appease both audiences. He has been wild about creating a new genre called revolutionary music, or Rev, represented by songs such as "OMG."

"I want to create a genre of music that speaks a world language not only to my R&B audiences, but my pop fans and also my international followers. And this is one way I can speak to all my fans at one time," he explains.

He has been high on touring, promoting and endorsing this new style, which is coming to Shanghai very soon.

Date: March 12, 7:30pm

Tickets 280-1,680 yuan

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, 2000 Expo Ave, Pudong

Tel: 962-388, 400-610-3721


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