79 year-old wows judges at China's 'Pop Idol'

BEIJING: A 79-year-old retiree in north China has wowed judges of a televised singing contest, state media said Friday, in an echo of Susan Boyle, a middle-aged woman in Britain who achieved stardom with her voice.

Wu Baiwei, the oldest contestant on "Happy Girl," the equivalent of Pop Idol in China, is now one of the top 50 contenders for an eagerly awaited televised final due in July, the official China Daily reported.

The retired teacher from Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, was walking on the streets of the city when she saw a lot of girls signing up for a singing contest, the newspaper said.

"I asked them if an old woman like me could take part and they said 'yes'," she was quoted as saying.

She went to the first rounds of the competition on Monday, after having nervously figured out she had enrolled for one of the most famous talent shows in China.

In an echo of Boyle, a 48-year-old Scottish woman who became famous after appearing on a similar talent show called "Britain's Got Talent" and wowing judges, Wu impressed the programme's arbitrators and was sent to the next round.

A video clip on youku.com, a popular Chinese file-sharing website, shows her sitting down in front of the judges, and singing "On Songhua River," a famous patriotic Chinese song about the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.