BEIJING, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- A new girl group has risen to popularity in China -- but instead of the typical gang of leggy Chinese women, this group features an international lineup spanning five continents.
Wuzhou, or "Five Continents," appropriately enough, are starting to gain popularity in China's music scene. Featuring five women from the countries of Uganda, Canada, Australia, France and China, respectively, the group rose to prominence after winning the preliminary round of a singing contest organized by CCTV, China's national broadcaster.
"We come from different countries, so we bring different styles of music and different backgrounds, even though we sing in Chinese," said Canadian Lisa Hoffman.
The band is preparing for the final round of the CCTV competition by embarking on a tour of China, traveling via high-speed train to deliver performances in cities nationwide.
"We think the reason why we made it through the first round is because we are very unique and we're from different countries," Hoffman said.
For these young and ambitious girls, China has come to represent a beacon of hope, as the global economic situations have become more bleak in recent years.
"Because the Chinese economy is doing so well, a lot of people within China and outside are starting to look to China, look to its art, look to its culture," Hoffman said.
Not unlike foreign businessmen who come to China to seek lucrative business opportunities, the members of Wuzhou believe China can give them a shot at fame.
"There are lots of opportunities that we have here that I don't think we would have had in our own countries," said Clemence Borgne, a French woman who serves as the group's lead singer.
The girls describe their music as a mix of pop music with traditional Chinese elements. In some cases, the group takes a well-known Chinese song and gives it a new edge by altering its rhythm or speed.
"Chinese audiences still prefer the old-fashioned Chinese songs," said Borgne. "When we sing them, the audience showers us with cheers and everyone sings along."
Despite having been in China for just a few years, Australian Marie Smurthwaite said she is an avid fan of Chinese opera, adding that she likes to try and incorporate some of her favorite opera elements into their performances.
"The first time I heard Chinese music, it didn't really sound like music to me. But now I can hear the melodies. It sounds musical," she said.
Performing onstage is nothing new for Keisha Mirembe, a Ugandan who is already a well-known singer in her home country. As the newest member of the group, she said she is still adapting to life in China.
The girls plan to stay in China long-term, although they are also starting to look at bringing their sound overseas. But for the time being, they will continue to seek out opportunities and chances in the Middle Kingdom.
"Before we arrived in China, I don't think any of us expected to end up living here," Hoffman said. "It was only once we got here that we realized what opportunities we could have, and what good lives we could have if we worked hard."