|Jike Junyi [China Daily]|
Jike Junyi became famous overnight, thanks to reality talent show The Voice of China. The 25-year-old who hails from a small mountain village of the Yi ethnic group from southwest China's Sichuan Province won third place in the first season of the show in the summer of 2012. Her performance of a remix of a folk song from her hometown, Don't be Afraid, in the Yi language and US soul musician James Brown's I Feel Good, captivated not only the four judges but also won the hearts of new fans.
"Half an hour after the show, more than 50,000 people sent messages to me via Sina Weibo (China's equivalent to Twitter), congratulating me and saying they love my singing," recalls Jike. "I was overwhelmed and felt unreal."
The very next day, she was out with friends in Xidan, a popular commercial area in Beijing, to eat her favorite dish, suan la fen or spicy noodles.
"If people recognize me, what should I do?" she asked her friends. Fortunately, it didn't happen. However, when she got home, pictures of her eating suan la fen were posted on Sina Weibo.
"I couldn't believe it. I was even scared. You know, an ordinary person suddenly became famous," she says.
That was how fame landed on the lap of Jike, the tanned singer with a big smile who often wears a long ponytail. Over the first season of the reality show, the most popular talent show of the year, which attracted millions of viewers, she became one of the country's most talked about and adored singers.
In March, she will release her first album and hold her first concert in front of 7,000 people in Beijing, which will be followed by a national tour.
Jike describes the concert as the conclusion of her previous achievements and the start of her future.
She admits that it took a while for her to adjust to her new life. Once she took off her high heels and wore slippers during a news conference. "I love high heels but they were killing me," she laughs. "But I will never do it again. The very next day, all the newspapers published the photo of me wearing slippers."
Jike is not just another overnight success story, says Zhou Hao, CEO of Beijing-based TH Entertainment, the company responsible for organizing Jike's concerts. "Thanks to her fashionable image, easygoing personality and her attachment to her family, she has a large fan base ranging from 20-somethings to middle-aged people, from students to white-collar workers. She will go far and international," Zhou says.
Liu Huan, who was one of the four judges of the show and later became Jike's tutor during the reality show, says: "Her voice and style are unique. She is exactly what the listeners want.
"I believe that she will shine on a bigger stage. Her passionate and wild nature inherited from her ethnic group is a great treasure. I hope she will remain that way no matter how far she goes."
Her tanned skin color and passionate personality also made her a favorite of the fashion industry. She was featured on the cover of the Chinese edition of Vogue magazine soon after she won third place in The Voice of China.
Lucia Liu, one of China's most prominent fashion stylists, who is the style director of Harper's Bazaar China, has been working closely with Jike after she signed on with TH Entertainment in early 2013. Liu will also design the costumes for Jike's upcoming concert, which, as she describes, will be eye-catching and cutting-edge.
"I am quite inspired by her skin color, which balances the clothes I chose for her," says Liu, who works between Beijing and London. "We are also good friends. She really likes eating hotpot."
In one of her hits, Colorful Black, Jike sings, "I have dark skin, an intuitive soul and I stick to my color. It doesn't matter how you look at me. You will see my colorful black."
"I used to hate my skin color," giggles Jike, who, like many Chinese young women, was obsessed with white skin tone. She bought lots of whitening toners, but all failed to work.
"Now, I love my skin color because it makes me special. I guess that is my natural gift, like singing," she says.
The Voice of China not only jump-started her career as a singer but also exposed her to other entertainment genres.
She has cooperated with US hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg for her single Summer Time and was invited to appear in action movie Outcast starring as the dumb wife of Hollywood star Nicolas Cage.
She will also feature in the action-adventure movie Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal in March, which stars award-winning actors Chen Kun and Li Bingbing.
"I possess enough energy to enjoy the ride," she says.
When Jike first arrived in Beijing in 2011, she sang in five bars every night in Houhai, a popular tour site known for its lakes and bar street.
She owes her happy personality to her hometown, which, as she describes, is a beautiful and pure place.
"All the people in my village are bold and unrestrained. They won't fake anything. After working, they drink and have dinner with friends. They sing and dance when the mood is right," says Jike.
Her mother is the only person in the village who can sing English songs. Jike recalls that most of her childhood memories consist of singing with her mother.
"She just loves singing and she knows that hard work pays off," says her mother, who is an English teacher.
"She didn't get into this to be famous, and it is still her first love."
(Source: China Daily)
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