CD Review : George from Athens to Beijing

CD Review – Spring 2006
(Bethlehem, PA, USA)

Well, what to make of this? Sapounidis, a Canadian singer-songwriter of Greek descent, began singing in Mandarin in 1998, and has since played many times in China, learning more of the culture and the music, and even writing material in Chinese. This, the soundtrack to the documentary Chairman George, is about his dream to sing in Chinese at the closing ceremony of the Athens Olympics in 2004. Whether he did that or not isin’t revealed here (some research indicates it did happen), but it’s the quest that’s important – as well as the music. It’s quite a mix, from soothing Chinese songs to the aching Greek rembetica, pieces for dance, and even “Sad Song Jam”, a lovely extended piece that was recorded on the Great Wall. That he’s good is beyond question. He’s acquired a huge Chinese audience now, people who love what he does. And, to be fair, he’s a more than decent writer and singer, and excellent on the bouzouki, if not a virtuoso. At times you might think he might be barking mad, but in an odd way, that’s part of his appeal. For most people, this isin’t going to change their lives, pleasant as it is. For George, obviously, this is the document of a major event. — CN