Liverpool Lad singing sensation in China
Have you ever heard of him in your fine City?
Barry Cox: The 30-year-old from Liverpool has become a singing sensation in China after learning the language in his local takeaway
From there, Barry asked the owner if he would teach him his native language.
"So he started teaching me Cantonese," explains Barry. "And I taught his nephew English."
Barry was soon spending four hours a night in the chip shop learning new words and phrases.
And after leaving school at 16 with five GCSEs, Barry spent years learning the nine tonal variations of Cantonese - the dialect of Hong Kong and south China - generally recognised as far more difficult than Mandarin, the national language spoken in Beijing and the north.
He became a regular in the Liverpool Chinese community's favourite bars and karaoke lounges, and took a job as a shelf-stacker in a Chinese supermarket to practise his language skills.
"I'd grown up watching films, but I never imagined I'd be able to learn the language," says Barry.
"I was doing a lot of dead-end jobs - supermarkets, insurance companies that sort of thing - and I thought 'What could I do to improve myself?'"
As his fluency developed, Barry further immersed himself in Chinese culture and went to see one of Hong Kong's favourite entertainers, and was so inspired he entered a local singing competition at Chinese New Year.
"I sang terribly but everyone applauded, I guess because it was so out there," he laughs. After that, he had singing lessons, and travelled to China in search of fame and fortune.
He began entering - and winning - karaoke competitions, beating native Chinese speakers.
Now he has been given star billing, currently singing at the Venetian hotel, the new mega-casino in the Chinese gambling haven of Macau.
In the next few months, he will release his first single - a duet with Ayi Jihu, a singer dubbed the Chinese Madonna - and an album.
After that he plans to tour Singapore.
But life on the other side of the world isn't with out its drawbacks.
"I miss my friends and family," admits Barry.
"And there are days I'd do anything for a cake from Sayer's. Or a pastie.
"If I ever moved back I'd eat a million of them and put on loads of weight, so it's probably a good job."
Barry also longs to see his beloved Liverpool FC at Anfield.
"I never miss a match," he says. "Even if it means getting up at 3am I see every game on TV."
Aside from supporting the Reds, Barry spends night after night singing his favourite songs in immaculate Cantonese, occasionally slipping in a Mandarin or English phrase.
And it's this cross-cultural emphasis that has inspired Hollywood film directors to make a film of his life story.
Initial interest came from Miramax, the US film company. The idea was also pitched to director of a Hong Kong-based firm.
But the project has now been taken up by Atman Entertainment and the producer of Fight Club - who are hoping to pull together to start filming in Liverpool next year.
"They say they want to make the film because what I've done has brought the two communities together," says Barry.
"But to me it doesn't seem all that remarkable. It just seems like my life, a series of things I've done."
Barry is also in talks to put his name to a fashion line - called Barry.
"Hong Kong clothing label Styleultra have asked me to help design a range of clothing - casual but stylish sportswear," says Barry.
"I'm hoping to make it unisex, and hopefully it'll bring in Chinese and English influences. It's a new challenge for me, something I've never done before, so I'm looking forward to it."
Barry seems settled in his life in China, so much so that he can't imagine moving back to Liverpool.
"I've fallen in love with Asia," he says.
"I walk out in the morning and I'm in the middle of Hong Kong or one of the other big Chinese cities. It's very cosmopolitan, you can walk down the street and see people from all over the world.
"Then I go out of the city and I'm in these tiny villages. It's just beautiful. I'll come back to Liverpool for visits to see friends and family, but here it feels like home
Wok N Woll, well done barry
Sang in our local chip shop would sing as well - badly!
Originally Posted by shoney
Good for him hope he makles a load of money
He may get into the charts at number 42, 18 and 38, oh and a can of coke please
I've heard of him. In fact I saw him singing - must have been You Tube or on tv.
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