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Web China: Farmer famed as China's male Susan Boyle

By Xinhua writers Du Jie and Feng Yuanyuan (Xinhua)

16:51, March 01, 2012

JINAN, March 1 (Xinhua) -- The man who has been dubbed China's male-version of the UK's "Susan Boyle" has shot to fame after appearing on a reality TV show. His appearance on the country's most watched Spring Festival Gala earlier this year brought his fame to a new height.

Zhu Zhiwen, 42, a peasant comes from east China's Shandong Province, appeared on the gala show and sang the song,"I want to go home" on the eve of Chinese New Year on Jan. 22. His moving performance won the hearts of millions of viewers.

Over the past year, youku.com, China's most popular video-sharing site, has been inundated with clips of Zhu's performances. Videos featuring him have received a total of over 20 millions hits. Earlier this year, Zhu soared to become the most searched person on baidu.com, China's largest search engine, and now remains among the top five.

"Nowadays, my schedule is always so full. It's overwhelming," Zhu told Xinhua. "If I had known my life would be like this, I would not have wanted to be famous in the first place."

Zhu first became a web sensation in February last year, when he appeared on Shandong TV's talent show "I'm a Big Star" wearing an old-fashioned military coat and a black wool hat. His stage appearance earned him the name, "Brother Coat".

Despite Zhu's impressive performance, the judges gave him a hard time by questioning his background as a farmer. One judge insisted Zhu remove his military coat to reveal what he was wearing underneath, which turned out to be a shabby sweater. The TV host then felt Zhu's hands and commented he had "laborers' hands."

The video clip received almost 4 million hits from outraged Internet users after it was uploaded on youku.com. The Internet attention changed Zhu Zhiwen's life overnight.

However, behind Zhu's instant success was years of struggle to make his dream of becoming a singer a reality. Zhu dropped out of school after the second year of primary school. His father died young and his family couldn't afford education for all the children in the family.

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