Ayi Jihu: from dish washer to millionaire singing sensation

September 10, 2010 | by | 3 Comments

Ayi Jihu, a lowly kitchen worker who washed dishes at her parent’s takeaway restaurant has become China’s biggest singing sensation after selling 100 MILLION records.

The 25-year-old gave up her £4 an hour job at the Ugly Duckling restaurant in Cambridge to become one of the world’s biggest selling artists.

Now the millionaire cannot walk the streets in China without getting mobbed and has performed at gigs to over 1.6 million people.

Dubbed ‘The Chinese Madonna’, her raunchy and provocative R&B pop videos have attracted unwelcome attention from China’s hardline communist government.

Ayi made a surprise visit to her parent’s takeaway restaurant on Wednesday to present them with a gold disc marking 100 million download sales in China.

She promised British fans will get an eyeful of her ”red-hot” performances when she releases her assault on the Western pop charts this month.

She added: ”Washing up was such hard work. I had to work every weekend to get some pocket money.

”Boxes of dirty washing kept coming in and it seemed to go on forever. I was very glad when I was old enough to be a waitress.

”I used to sing and dance for the customers. It’s all I ever wanted to do and got me out of the kitchen for a short while.

‘This is where it all started. Now I just want to eat the food not do the washing up.

”I’m pretty big in China but not much in the west. Not a lot of Chinese performers are like me; I’m sexy, provocative and raunchy.

”There’s a lot of things the Chinese government don’t like about it but I haven’t had a problem yet – but I know it will come sooner or later.

”People in my family’s home town in China get very excited if they see me. I’m quite careful not to go out alone as I can’t really walk the streets.”

Ayi grew up in a poverty stricken village called Leibo, in Sichuan province, where her family lived in a squalid flat.

When she was 13-years-old her parents moved to England in search of a better life and education for their two children and settled in Cambridge.

Her mother Cindy Wu, 46, and step-father Samuel Mak, 70, bought the Ugly Duckling restaurant and recruited Ayi to wash dishes and later be a waitress.

She was paid ”pocket money” for working hard every weekend in the kitchen as a teenager.

After passing her GCSEs and A-Levels with flying colours she worked as a waitress to fund her accounting and economics degree at Middlesex University .

But fame beckoned and two years into her degree she was asked by a friend to be an extra in a video for rapper Fugitive.

The record company was so impressed by her performance that they invited her back the next day and made her the centre-piece of the video.

She was signed up by London-based record company Shlepp Records and flown to China in 2007 where she began wowing audiences in casinos in Macau.

Ayi first made it big on China’s underground circuit attracting the attention of music-lovers as well as thousands of love-struck men.

Her debut album Try Me sold 100 million downloads and record bosses estimate that she has performed to 1.6 million fans during the past two years.

Ayi is also an ambassador for United Nations, Global Flying Hospital and Federal Association of the Advancement of Visible Minorities.

A spokesman for Schlepp Records paid tribute to Ayi’s rise from ”humble beginnings” to becoming a ”phenomenal” success story

He said: ”From her humble beginnings helping out her parents in their Chinese restaurant in Cambridge where she would sing to customers, Ayi Jihu has become one of China’s biggest new stars, routinely topping lists of sexiest Chinese women and her music has become phenomenally popular in the lucrative mobile phone download market with young people in China.”

Her single Sad Sweet Dreamer will be released in UK on September 27.

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  1. 123fr says:

    things people will believe,

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