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Shaking the world over and sure to stir
(China Daily) Updated:2005-03-02 14:31
Shaking the world over and sure to stir
The best-selling jazz singer and multi-Grammy Awards winner Norah Jones will give two gigs in Beijing and Shanghai.
 

  What kind of taste results from mixing Chivas Regal whiskey with Chinese green tea?

  Well, whatever the effect on the palate, the concoction is proving to be the most popular drink in the night clubs and bars in Beijing and Shanghai.

  Taking the sting out the whiskey by adding something very Chinese works well.

  But one wonders if Chivas Regal's sponsorship of the one of the hottest Western singers around will prove so successful in China's largest cities.

  Chivas is sponsoring the upcoming Norah Jones gigs in Shanghai and Beijing.

  But the fact remains that very few Western pop or jazz musicians have sold out concerts in the capital, Beijing. Reason? Simply put, their music does not captivate the majority of Chinese audiences unless there has been a Chinese essence added, just as in the whiskey-green tea mixer.

  The Beijing gig at the Workers' Stadium on March 7 and the Shanghai show at the Changning Arena on March 9 are part of Norah Jones' and the Handsome Band's Asian tour which started in Singapore on February 27 and also includes concerts in South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, and in China's Hong Kong and Taiwan.

  Norah Jones' first tour to the Chinese mainland is highly anticipated.

  "We are thrilled to introduce Norah Jones to China," said Steve Sybesma, managing director of China West Entertainment, co-presenter of the two shows.

  "As the best-selling singer in the world, she is the most current international star to perform in China. And it is significant that Beijing and Shanghai can now be part of a major artist's Asia tour."

  Norah Jones is arguably the first super star with current success to perform in Beijing. Quite a few "stars" such as Suede, Deep Purple and those from the classical scene such as the Three Tenors and Sarah Brightman, toured Beijing when they were no longer at peak.

  Song Ke, managing director of Taihe Rye Music Co Ltd, the other local presenter of the gigs on the Chinese mainland, believes that it will be a worthwhile show of real international standard in many aspects.

  "Beijing has seen too many over-promoted 'super' shows. The organizers did too much marketing and sold tickets at an incredible price - much more expensive than that in the United States and Japan," said Song.

  According to him, the price of the tickets, which cost 380 yuan (US$46), 480 yuan (US$58) and 580 yuan (US$70), are very close to the international standard.

  However, price is not the biggest problem. A bottle of Chivas costs more than 580 yuan but still sells well in bars. The real problem is how many Chinese people love Norah Jones and whether they will come to the show.

  Even Song is not sure whether the tickets will sell well in Beijing where the sold-out shows are always those by pop icons from Hong Kong and Taiwan, although such shows sell more expensive tickets than Norah Jones.

  "She comes a little bit early. It takes time for Chinese people to accept Western pop music and know a singer. Norah Jones is not a big name among the public so far, even not as known as Sarah Brightman," says Song.

  But the charming and talented jazz girl does have her own fans in China.

  "I have listened to her since early last year and bought her albums. I am no longer at the age of an enthusiastic fan of somebody, but if possible I will go to the concert in Beijing," said 28-year-old Xie Ye, an economic reporter in Beijing who calls himself a big fan of Jones.

  Wang Yi, 32, editor of a fashion magazine, also expresses his expectations for the show: "I knew her after she won the eight Grammy Awards in 2003, I feel that I knew her from the very first time I heard her. The intimacy of her delivery and the subtle shading of her interpretation draws me in. I will not miss her tour in Beijing."

  "Norah Jones has her fans in China who are older and mentally more mature than those teenagers who buy every album of their idols, swarm for the gigs, collect posters and catch every news of the idols," said Dai Fang, veteran pop music journalist with the Beijing Evening News.

  He resembles Norah Jones to Xu Wei, the versatile Chinese singer, song writer and guitarist.

  "To some extent, the music of these two are similar, peaceful, comfortable and pleasant on the ear.

  "People listen to their music not for seeking novelty, excitement or for fun but a way to calm down, enjoy relaxing and communicating with the singer," he added.

  Some people also mentioned Jones' warm, but sultry voice fits a small and cozy environment such as a bar rather than a huge stadium.

  The singer herself answered a Shanghai-based newspaper via e-mail that the team has experience in producing arena concerts and she herself looks forward to performing for a large number of fans in China.

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