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Singer-songwriter inspired by his guitar, Bruce Lee's philosophy

By Chen Nan ( China Daily )

When Liang Bo won the first season of The Voice of China, a popular reality show on Zhejiang Satellite TV that premiered in July 2012, everyone thought this young man's career was ready to take off.

However, to many people's surprise, he slowed down.

It took 19 months for him to release his self-titled debut album. His second album, Mi Cang, which was released recently, took him another 19 months to finish.

 Singer-songwriter inspired by his guitar, Bruce Lee's philosophy

Singer-songwriter Liang Bo recently released his second album, Mi Cang. Zou Hong / China Daily

"I am not good at handling fame. I don't want to walk into the spotlight without my songwriting work. The only reason I am onstage is because I have something new to express, to share," he tells China Daily.

The 24-year-old composed and wrote lyrics for the albums, which he also produced. Loaded with pop-rock tunes, like the lead single, Upside-Down Dream, and the blues-rock tune, Dangerous, the album was recorded in Beijing.

The title of the album, Mi Cang, refers to the game hide-and-seek. To Liang, the process of growing up is like playing hide-and-seek.

"The older I am, the more reflective I get. I try constantly to figure out who I am and what kind of singer-songwriter I want to become," he says.

In one of his new songs, Change, Liang sings: "They say I've changed. There are so many possibilities happening with me. But I am not aware of that."

The song reflects Liang's personal transition.

"The Voice of China introduced me to audiences. But I am not a new hand in terms of singing and songwriting. I have been ready for the industry for years," he says.

Born in Changchun, Jilin province, in Northeast China, Liang has wanted to become a singer-songwriter since he got his first guitar at 12. It was a birthday gift from his mother.

He learned guitar at a local music-training center, where he met professional singer-songwriters. He recalls that he was so obsessed about the instrument that he even drew six lines on his desk in school, resembling the guitar strings, and practiced day and night.

At 13, he started songwriting. In 2009, Liang was admitted into the Jilin College of the Arts, majoring in pop-music performance.

He auditioned for The Voice of China in 2012 at the suggestion of his teachers.

"I had no intention to win. I participated in the show only because of the four judges. I like their music, and I wanted to know what they thought of my music," says Liang.

"I developed presence and confidence onstage, which I didn't have before."

Thanks to his wide vocal range and ambitions, critics compare Liang with established Chinese rock musicians like Dou Wei and Zheng Jun.

"I can visualize pictures when I listen to him singing. He is quite calm in the show, which is rare for a man in his twenties," says pop star Na Ying, one of the show's judges.

Liang says that his main musical influence is not from any musician but kung fu legend Bruce Lee. He watched Lee's movies in middle school and read books about him. Liang considers him a philosopher.

In Liang's mind, music and Lee's martial arts have a lot in common.

"In a fight, he simply blocks and strikes instinctively without a concern for what is right and wrong," Liang says, quoting the book, The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee (1996).

"I think it also applies to music. I just write and sing songs that I like without much consideration about others. I firmly believe that a singer-songwriter should be sharp and determined."

He also agrees with Lee's openness to various schools of martial arts.

Liang mentions that his first album was recorded in Los Angeles, where he stayed for six months. It was the first time that he went to the United States, and he was immersed in the vibrant art scene there.

He often went to instrument shops and watched unknown artists performing on the streets of Santa Monica. He played guitar and improvised with an artist once.

"Lee said: 'Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, just like water. Don't limit into one form, adapt it and build your own'. I got inspired by listening to different kinds of music and watching various art forms," he says.

"I want to be someone like Lee, who is not just a martial artist but also an artist of life."


(China Daily 01/04/2016 page20)