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Underground voices (2)

By Chen Nan  (China Daily)

13:15, November 13, 2012

A grassroots singer performs in a subway tunnel at Xidan in downtown Beijing. CHINA PHOTO PRESS

Xu is one of many musicians, who spend their days in the capital's subway stations or tunnels, performing for streams of commuters. Some singers are professional musicians, but many are amateurs. They have different goals. Some perform for a living, while others do it as a hobby and most are a mix of both.

Becoming a subway musician isn't for the bashful.

Xu introduces himself to the many stern-looking passengers, saying: I am Xiao Fei. I am a singer and songwriter. Singing is my dream.

Xu then starts crooning, pausing to give brief explanations at the start of each song.

I don't ask for too much. I only want to sing my own songs, he says, before singing in his coarse voice.

Some passengers toss money in his black guitar case. Many clap, and a few ask if he wrote the songs himself. Xu nods, proudly.

Xu usually performs three rounds of the same songs on the trip between the Xizhimen and Dongzhimen subway stations, which takes more than an hour. He doesn't use speakers and tries to sing as loudly as possible.

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