George Sapounidis, otherwise known as Chairman George and a rising music star in China, will perform at the Jan. 22 opening ceremonies of the 2013 annual International Camellia Festival in Kunming, capital of south China’s Yunnan province.
The festival showcases the camellia in all its forms at events from arts competitions to flower exhibitions, and it’s seen as an honor for the only Greek-Canadian singer who speaks Mandarin, to play the bouzouki for the vast Chinese audience.
The 55-year-old Sapounidis has been enchanting Chinese fans for the last decade with a blend of passionate folk, rock and traditional Chinese songs. His connection to China was particularly strengthened after his concert called East meets West that he gave 12 years ago at the National Library of Canada Auditorium in Ottawa, (now Library and Archives Canada).
Sapounidis invited both Chinese and Greek diplomats. Within a few weeks he was winging his way to China at the invitation of the Chinese embassy to perform at two major international arts festivals in Shanghai and Nanning. The multi-lingual charismatic singer and mathematician with PhD at statistics has taken part in many high profile cultural events in Ottawa, Toronto and China. He is a very popular artist in China with many TV shows and radio interviews.
In the meantime, Sapounidis formed a band called Ouzo Power, and on his upcoming trip he will perform with his drummer and well known producer, Ross Murray who has collaborated with bands, composers, choreographers and film makers worldwide. Sapounidis got his handle Chairman George from the title of an award-winning documentary that aired on CTV and the BBC in 2005.
It chronicles his heartbreaking pursuit of a dream to perform at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. The music from the documentary was released in a CD called George from Athens to Beijing, nominated for Best World Music at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Canadian Chinese cultural leaders consider him a bridge builder between the Chinese community and mainstream Canadians. He has recently completed a new collection of Greek-Chinese fusion songs with Murray in a recording studio near Chelsea, Quebec which he will promote in his upcoming month long China trip.