Taiwan's Jeff Chang aims to bring Chinese pop to West, prepares for London concert
By Victoria Waldersee and Hanna Rantala
LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Veteran Taiwanese singer Jeff Chang – known among fans as the "Prince of Love Ballads" – says he wants to "open the gate" between East and West with his pop music, as he prepares for a one-off UK show at London's Royal Albert Hall next April.
Chang, 52, is one of the highest-selling artists in China, with 40 albums that have sold in their millions across South and East Asia during his three-decade musical career.
Chang's new ambition is to make Chinese pop music more popular in the West, drawing inspiration from the success of Korean pop, or "K-pop", which has taken the world by storm since the 1990s.
K-pop boyband BTS performed sold-out concerts to adoring British fans and scored a number one album in the UK charts earlier this year. Chang wants to follow their lead, doing for China's image what K-pop has done for South Korea.
"The whole world knows the economic power of China," Chang said. "But I think there are more parts that we can share with the world – Chinese culture, and also Chinese pop music. There are so many people interested in Chinese and they want to know more... so I think it’s a great time to open the gate."
He hopes the show in April will include new songs produced together with prolific musical lyricist Tim Rice, most famous for writing "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Evita" with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Chang describes Rice as his "childhood idol".
Chang also recently spent 10 days in Stockholm working with an unnamed Swedish composer and arranger with experience of collaborating with K-pop artists, the results of which he hopes will be ready for his April performance in London.
Chang admits the prospect of performing at the legendary Royal Albert Hall - following in the footsteps of stars such as Eric Clapton and Adele, as well as symphony orchestras from around the world - makes him very nervous, even after 30 years on stage.
"Everyone in the world who likes music knows that the Royal Albert Hall is a landmark venue," he said. "I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in such a place."
Asked to describe what music means to him now, Chang said: "Music gives me the joy of life. To my mind, music is not work, or something which I’m trying to reach certain career goals with. In music, I am most comfortable."
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Hanna Rantala Editing by Gareth Jones)
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