The aptly-named Hao Ge (aka Emmanuel Uwechue) has charmed China with his soul-infused Mando-pop, and seems to be particularly popular with children and older women. He sings slow love ballads that don't seem far removed from R. Kelly—except for that singing entirely in Mandarin Chinese thing.
Hao Ge's rise to pop stardom came with an invitation in 2001 by a Chinese friend to come perform at his Henan-based hotel. Hao Ge accepted, and started singing in bars and hotels around Henan and Hebei provinces. He got “discovered” in a Beijing bar called the Big Easy, which has since been chai'd beyond all recognition.
That's when Hao Ge hit the big time. He appeared on CCTV's Chinese New Year Gala in front of 200 million viewers and is the go-to face of African-Chinese relations—in one performance, Hao Ge and several Chinese performers dressed up as oil rig workers. (Last year, Hao Ge's home country signed an oil deal worth US$23 billion.)
But Hao Ge isn't happy with his current artistic direction. “I feel boxed in, always singing romance songs,” he said in a NYT interview. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I would like to expand the horizons of my distributed work.” Hao Ge has started a new band that will play more “upbeat, rhythmic” fare instead of the romantic ballads that made him a name here in China. We here at CW wish him luck in breaking out of the Mando-pop box.