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Journeyman's stories

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2014-05-25 07:55

Journeyman's stories

Levine's new book covers his experiences over nearly nine years in China. Provided to China Daily

Journeyman's stories

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The people who have touched his life since he arrived in the country come to life on every page of the book. One of the people who is often in the spotlight is Fu Han, an early friend who became his agent and confidant and often performs with him, Levine on guitar and Fu on the Chinese erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument).

The chapter about how she got Levine an Avenue of Stars audition - and herded the singer through the long process of getting his act stage-ready - is one of the jolliest in the book.

Thomas Manson, a Canadian lawyer and arbitrator based in Beijing who teaches at the University of International Business and Economics, says: "When I met Mark, I saw someone I expected to be a voice for America, but I have come to enjoy him more as a voice for China.

"Mark's music is now Chinese music - and our music," Manson says this is true whether Levine is singing a song about the Chinese army folk hero Lei Feng or You Are My Sunshine in Chinese.

"Mark is a professor, a passionate and dedicated teacher who contributes to many student activities," says Gao Yenching, dean of foreign studies at Minzu University of China, where Levine has taught since 2007.

"But what makes him special is that, through, him, Americans can see what the real China is, and Chinese can see what a real American is, and how a real American perceives China."

At a book signing last month, Levine was asked which of his own roles - teacher, singer, songwriter - he likes best.

"That's like asking what part of kung pao chicken do I like best," he says. "Peppers, chicken, onions - I like it all.

"Teaching is a common thing, though, in what I like to do," says Levine, who has recently created a university lecture series about the legacies of foreigners who came to support China's revolution in the 1930s - people such as Israel Epstein, Edgar Snow, Agnes Smedley and Norman Bethune.

"In the foreign press, China is a composite of different problems and challenges," Levine says. "But the reality is different. There are lots of good things here, too, that you just don't know about until you get here."

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