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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 06:35 GMT
Changing track to become pop star
Barry Cox
Barry said he wanted to better his career
When Barry Cox became bored with his job in insurance, he knew he had to change track.

But his career switch did not involve improving his IT skills or setting off to re-train as a plumber.

Instead, he learned Cantonese and became Gok Pak-wing - a successful pop star in China.

After honing his skills with karaoke performances, Mr Cox, 30, was handed top billing at concerts and eventually secured a residency at a glitzy casino in Macau.

And it all began with a chance conversation in his local Chinese chip shop in Huyton, Merseyside.

Mr Cox said: "I was working in an insurance company but it wasn't going anywhere - it had no future and I was thinking about how to better myself.

I never even used to sing, I didn't even listen to music but I started learning the words to these songs as a hobby
Barry Cox
"I was really thinking about languages. As we have a Chinatown on our doorstep, I thought if I could learn Chinese that would be brilliant as not a lot of people can do it.

"There was a local chip shop, so I just went in and got friendly with the guys there. One of them was learning English so we just exchanged language.

"Then I left my job and worked in a Chinese supermarket and a restaurant to work on the language."

Part of this very steep learning curve also included an introduction to a musical phenomenon that would, literally, have him singing to a different tune.

"Once I started learning Cantonese, the guy who was teaching me gave me loads of music CDs.

"When I started listening to them I thought they were quite catchy.

"I never even used to sing, I didn't even listen to music but I started learning the words to these songs as a hobby."

Barry Cox
Barry said he wanted to better his career

Word soon got around and Mr Cox was a frequent feature at Chinatown karaoke nights and did shows around town.

Then, as things took off, he decided it was time to make the giant leap and moved to Hong Kong around eight years ago, where he toured doing various concerts.

There he created quite a stir and the girls went mad for the cute cheeky lad from Merseyside who could sing pitch-perfect Chinese pop songs.

Gradually his reputation built up and now he has been offered a residency at the biggest casino in Macau - The Venetian.

Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas have played at the hotel and while Gok Pak-wing might not be in the same league yet, he has high hopes.

"I sing all the popular Chinese songs that everybody knows, we have a live band that sings all the English songs so it's no use just doing a copy of what they're doing, so I stick to the Chinese stuff."

This is with one exception - Westerners at the show would recognise a catchy tune in his show - even if they didn't understand the words.

Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You - the 1987 pop hit from Hawaiian crooner Glenn Madeiros is a crowd favourite - although obviously the words have been translated into Cantonese.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Listen to one of Barry's songs



SEE ALSO
Regions and territories: Macau
30 Oct 07 |  Country profiles
In Pictures: Macau casino opens
28 Aug 07 |  In Pictures
Macau leader denies casino claim
14 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Girl awarded Macau casino jackpot
24 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific



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