A musician who lost both arms in a childhood accident and plays the piano with his toes has won the first series of “China’s Got Talent,” performing his version of James Blunt’s wistful love song “You’re Beautiful” to a packed audience at the Shanghai Stadium. He thrilled the judges and live audience with his performance and was accorded a standing ovation after his performance.
All three judges on the show Sunday praised 23-year-old Liu Wei for his determination, urging him to keep on pursuing his dreams, and the Beijing native said he would try, quipping, “At least I have a pair of perfect legs.”
For winning the Chinese version of the show that helped make Britain’s Susan Boyle a superstar, Liu is reportedly set to receive a contract with Fremantle Media and Sony Music Entertainment.
At the award ceremony, Liu was invited by Taiwan singer Jolin Tsai to be a guest performer on her world tour, which gives him the chance to perform in Las Vegas for three months.
The award ceremony also featured winners and finalists from the popular “Got Talent” series in Britain and the United States, including British singer Paul Potts and dance group Diversity.
At age 18, he decided to pursue a career in music, using his feet to play the piano, much as he uses them to navigate on the computer, eat, dress and brush his teeth.
“China’s Got Talent,” a weekly program shown on local channel Dragon TV, has helped draw attention to the hopes and challenges of disabled and otherwise disadvantaged Chinese.
The program is part of British music mogul Simon Cowell’s “Got Talent” franchise, which now has versions broadcasting in more than 30 countries. Simon Cowell, best known as the former acerbic judge on “American Idol,” developed the TV format of “Got Talent” in Britain, the United States and Europe. He has become one of the most powerful entrepreneurs in reality TV. The British version of the show catapulted the dowdy Scottish singer Susan Boyle to international stardom last year.
Liu Wei defeated 7-year-old standup comedian Zhang Fengxi at the final on Sunday at the Shanghai Stadium, the Shanghai Daily reported. Cai Xiuqing, 23, a college student from Shantou in Guangdong province, won third place for singing “Boundless Oceans Vast Skies,” a hit for Hong Kong rock back Beyond.
The show’s director, Jin Lei, told the newspaper that the success of the show ensured it would continue next year.
“China has so much untapped grassroots talent, and we believe the show will maintain its nationwide vitality and popularity for three or five years,” said Jin.
Gong xi ni (which means congratulations to you in Chinese), Liu Wei! You have touched the lives of countless people worldwide and you are a true inspiration to the entire world!