This weekend’s Lady Gaga-organized One World: Together at Home event featured a glittering array of big name celebrities and has raised over 125 million USD for Covid-19 relief. With everyone from Beyoncé and Billie Eilish to Michelle Obama and Stephen Colbert, the show was aired on TV networks and streaming websites across the globe with a message of solidarity. Except in China, where approval from the authorities for live streams of the broadcast didn’t materialize.
Chinese participation in the event was also sparse. Hong Kong-based singers Eason Chan and Jacky Cheung joined the show, with the only mainland performer being Shenyang-born pianist Lang Lang, who at one point joined Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga and John Legend for a rendition of “The Prayer.”
Without an official stream to watch, old-school pop singer Lao Lang — who rose to fame with a “college campus ballad” entitled “My Deskmate” in 1995 — seemingly decided to take things into his own hands. Shortly after Lady Gaga’s extravaganza began, wrote on his WeChat friend feed a message to the effect that people should record themselves playing songs too, in order to “come together.”
Over the course of the next 24 hours, he received almost 150 videos from a host of Chinese musicians. Although there was no full broadcast, the singer used his WeChat to share 15-second-long clips (the limit allowed on the platform’s “Moments”) and these soon began to spread out across the internet, creating a “Chinese version” of the One World event. He also reposted a number of the videos on microblogging site Weibo, along with one of The Rolling Stones taken from the more official One World: Together at Home show.
The videos feature an impressive collection of Chinese singers and bands, including members of rock bands Joyside, folk act Wild Children, and folk-rockers Low Wormwood.
The seemingly spontaneous event has apparently spurred pop producer Gao Xiaosong, who helped write many of Lao Lang’s early hits, to organize a more official online concert entitled “Trust in the Future.” No date has yet been confirmed, but Weibo, music streaming sites Xiami and NetEase, and ticket sellers Damai have all signed up to support the event that Gao has said will be “dedicated to everyone who resumes work and school, and who is back out on the road.”
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