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Bibi Sings the Blues

A fan’s notes on a Chinese pop phenom.

Mar 14, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 25 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
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“Organizing the costumes, choreography, and arrangements to adapt studio versions of your songs to live performances is an incredible amount of work to complete in just 30 days. Did you sleep much?” I asked.

“Well, not very much.”

“Having produced five CDs in as many years, and being one of the first mainland Chinese artists in many years to also be popular in Taiwan​—​what’s next for you?”

“I want to make films. We are in negotiation with several studios right now to make feature films here in China.” Now 25, she has already appeared in some feature films in China, although not always as the main character. On a Chinese chat show, she performed imitations of every popular singing artist the audience and host could name. Which emphasizes an obvious truth: Zhou Bichang is a musician’s musician, a creative personality in her own right. She writes much of her own material and described for me how she suddenly gets an idea for a song and finds herself jotting down lyrics or notes and chord patterns on a napkin: “Sometimes, if I can, I will sing the idea I have for a song and record it on my mobile phone.”

What is the life of a Chinese pop phenomenon? “I just live like the other people​—​regular people​—​do. I read books, watch TV, go to cinema, spend time on the Internet.”

 “Is it hard for you to be in public when you are this famous?”

“No, no I often go out in public.”

“Do you wear dark glasses, or something else, to disguise yourself?”

Bibi laughs: “No! I just take off my glasses.”

Reuben F. Johnson is an aerospace reporter based in Kiev.

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