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Dragon flies to Bird's Nest

Updated: 2012-03-09 09:28
By Chen Nan (China Daily)

Wang Lee-hom says he feels deeply connected to the dragon, one of the Chinese zodiac creatures.

Though he was born and grew up in the United States, Wang realized as a child he was born in the Year of the Dragon and he is proud to be one of the "descendants of the dragon" - aka Chinese.

His connection with the dragon also led him to launch his national tour, Music Man II, in 2012 - the Year of the Dragon - and make the first stop the Beijing National Stadium, or Bird's Nest.

"The dragon represents power and good luck. It is also a sign of cultural identity that connects Chinese people living around the world," the 36-year-old says. "I want to mark the year by performing at the symbolic venue, which has always been my dream."

The pop star performed at the Closing Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and was impressed by the architecture and warm feedback from the audience.

Known for his ability to mix instruments, from the traditional Chinese erhu (Chinese two-string fiddle) to a Western orchestra, Wang has sold out concerts across the country during the past 10 years.

He says the Bird's Nest is challenging and tempting.

Dragon flies to Bird's Nest

"Imagining 100,000 people waving their hands and singing along with me, I can feel my blood boiling. I always throw myself into impossible situations and enjoy being onstage," he says, standing in front of the tour poster, which has a golden dragon as the background and Wang in a kung fu pose.

"I love being surrounded by creative people, from the stage designer, to the dance teachers, and people who come up with the concept of the whole concert."

As a pop singer-songwriter, he has sold about 15 million records and has made forays into classical music.

Passionate about music from a young age, he attended Williams College and got a double major in music and Asian studies.

When he returned to Taiwan from the US to start his music career, his talent was overshadowed by his handsome appearance and background abroad. Since then, his love ballads have won him millions of female fans across Asia.

However, Wang says he doesn't want to be just another ABC (American-born Chinese) singer, who raps and performs hip-hop in loose clothes, wearing a cap. So he worked hard on composing songs with various styles, from rock to jazz, and combining traditional Chinese Opera and poetic lyrics.

After touring the Tibet and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions, and the homes of other ethnic groups of China in 2004, he created his own style, "chinked out", that incorporates Chinese elements and sounds.

"Though I have Western influences, I have always wanted to use Chinese elements in my music," he says.

Since releasing his first album, Love Rival, Beethoven, when he was 19, Wang has produced 25 albums. He has won Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards four times, which he calls recognition of his musical talent.

"There are so many distractions in the pop world of Taiwan, Hong Kong and the mainland. Sometimes, your musical talent is ignored, which is a sad thing for me," he says. "I don't want to be an idol just because of my face or my relationship with an actress."

He has also tried acting and appeared in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution in 2006, and Jackie Chan's Little Big Soldier in 2009.

Even so, music has always been his focus, starting with musical theater at 13, which Wang says he wants to return to someday.