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Chicago, my kinda town

CHICAGO, a city known for its diversity, arts and entertainment, made its presence at the Expo yesterday with Hip Hop Chicago, singer Otis Clay and sculptor Virginio Ferrari.

They are all based in Chicago, the birthplace of house music and one of the most influential bases of hip-hop culture. Hip Hop Chicago and Clay performed at the Americas Square yesterday while Ferrari unveiled his Expo-inspired sculpture "The Family," a work made of stainless steel and bronze.

The musicians will have more shows today and tomorrow at the Americas Square and USA Pavilion. The sculpture will stay permanently as part of the Riverside Landscaping Belt sculpture project.

"I'm really glad to put my sculpture at this site," Ferrari told Shanghai Daily. "I checked the site many times to make sure that my sculpture would fit right in with the environment around it.

"The Family" was selected as one of 24 permanent works from more than 800 candidates. Ferrari was the only American artist to have his work selected.

The work is composed of nine elements, as he takes into consideration the significance of the number nine in Chinese culture. The two central figures, hugging each other, are a father and mother while the surrounding seven pieces are extended members of the family.

"It reflects the importance of the family and our relationships with each other, which makes up the fabric of our experiences within every city and our every day lives," Ferrari said.

Chicago, a sister city to Shanghai, is famous for its vivid music scene and Hip Hop Chicago represents the city's trend-setting, edgy scene while soul and gospel singer Otis Clay shows off a taste for more traditional genres.

'Amazing diversity'

"What we want to present to Chinese visitors is the amazing diversity of Chicago, which draws people of all heritages and backgrounds," a representative of Hip Hop Chicago said.

Hip Hop Chicago comprises four separate groups with a total of 16 artists, including a DJ, rapper and a break dancer.

Hip Hop Chicago had an informal jam session with around 80 hip hop dancers from Fudan University last week. They were curious about the differences with their Chinese peers and were surprised to see almost none. The Fudan dancers just jumped in naturally as if they were part of the group.

"Hip hop is big in Asia now, so we hope young Chinese people will become interested in Chicago through these extraordinary hip hop artists," the same representative said.

Meanwhile, Clay is now in the 50th year of his professional career. He is active in blues, soul, jazz and gospel music.

Nominated for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards, Clay has also brought his band to Shanghai for his China debut.

"I would definitely love to come back again," Clay said.


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