Kashy Keegan, whose ballads failed to make a mark at home, has become an unlikely star in Hong Kong.
Englishman's song becomes anthem for free speech in Hong Kong.
A BRITISH singer-songwriter whose ballads failed to make a mark at home has become an unlikely hero in Hong Kong, where his anthem to overcoming adversity has galvanised free-speech protesters.
Kashy Keegan has found fame in the southern Chinese city with This Is My Dream, which has became the unofficial soundtrack to protests against the government’s refusal to grant a licence to an upstart television network.
“As a singer-songwriter it’s what you aspire towards,” he said as he returned to the city for a concert recently.
After years of trying to break into the music industry by performing in small venues and recording song demos at his own expense, Keegan had almost “given up” on a pop career until he received a call asking him to perform at the rallies.
When new network HKTV had its licence application blocked, footage of the protests with This Is My Dream playing in the background emerged on YouTube, spawning an instant hit that topped Hong Kong’s iTunes singles chart.
Last October Keegan electrified thousands of protesters with two performances of the song.
“It’s quite a dramatic song and quite defiant. It captured the emotion and the spirit of the time,” he told AFP.
Keegan spoke of his admiration for HKTV chairman Ricky Wong, who he said was trying to push the boundaries of television in Hong Kong.
“(Viewers) are very limited,” he said. “They hardly have any choice and the programmes are very generic and inane.
Wong “wants to create this network where you can be more creative,” he said.
There have been mounting concerns that China is seeking to tighten control over the semi-autonomous region and rein in its free-wheeling media.
Thousands joined a demonstration for press freedom organised by journalists in Hong Kong last month.
Keegan, originally from the town of Worthing, Sussex, has been working on better connecting with his Hong Kong fans through Facebook and YouTube.
“I’ve had some attempts at learning Cantonese. I’ve done a few video messages, like for Chinese New Year,” he said.
Keegan’s day job is as a celebrity journalist in London, but he previously worked in a succession of low-paying roles including as a cleaner, data entry clerk and in telesales – singing in small venues for family and friends in the evening. — AFP