Musician comes back in black

Updated: 2011-11-16 08:16

By Xu Junqian (China Daily)

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Musician comes back in black

Gao Xiaosong. [Provied to China Daily]

SHANGHAI - Dressed all in black and sporting his trademark long hair and beard, Gao Xiaosong marked his transformation from inmate to celebrity.

"I got to meet some people I may never be able to meet, and see the other side of life, and it got me thinking how immature my work used to be," said the Beijing native, who spent the "longest half-year" of his life sharing a room with 10 people because of a conviction for drunken driving.

"As an artist, I don't want to sell my story, be it miserable, touching or appealing. Instead, I hope I can sell my art well."

The 42-year-old musician and novice director has been picked as a judge for the new season of China's Got Talent, a show he was on before being suspended for a drunken crash that caused a four-vehicle pileup in which four people were injured.

He was released on Nov 8 after serving 184 days in a detention house.

On Tuesday he was giving a news conference in Shanghai, having just flown in from New York, where he was awarded the New Asian Director Award for his first commercial film, My Kingdom, at the Second New York Chinese Film Festival.

"Life has been good enough to me, and I have no wish but to hope everything is as peaceful as before," Gao said.

He refused to talk more about the details of his imprisoned life, and denied the possibilities of using it in his film or music.

According to his assistant, who kept Gao's Weibo account updated while he was imprisoned, Gao spent his time reading Encyclopedia Britannica, translating Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and working on a collection of poems and a new film script.

He is also ready to participate - for free - in a new video that warns people against drunken driving.

"I want to take advantage of my name while it's still useful and has some news value," joked Gao.

The 30-second video, produced by Dragon TV and the Shanghai Traffic Police Corp, will be broadcast nationwide in December.

"I'm glad Gao is coming back. It's a matter of pride for the whole nation to accept someone who has done wrong and is brave enough to admit it," said Zhou Libo, a famous Shanghai comedian and another judge of the show.

But, apparently, the whole nation is not ready yet to accept such vast publicity so soon. Some critics have said too much attention has been focused on Gao. And since publicity is the most important thing for celebrities, many TV programs have been increasing their offer price to invite Gao on their show.

"If we can invite Gao for a drunken driving promotion video, can we invite murderers to tell people not to take away others' lives?" said Jiang Yiyun, a loyal follower of the talent show.

According to a poll by Dragon TV, 67 percent of the public has a positive attitude towards Gao's return, eight percent are negative and 25 percent remain neutral. The number could be influenced by the fact that Dragon TV produces China's Got Talent and has remained close with Gao.

"I'm very grateful that people are all so tolerant, and I hope people can be equally tolerant to my buddies 'inside' (the detention house when they are out)," responded Gao.