The armless musician who played the piano with his feet to win China’s Got Talent

30 October 2020, 15:33

Liu Wei won the first season of China's Got Talent
Liu Wei won the first season of China's Got Talent. Picture: YouTube / Scarlett Li

By Sian Moore

Chinese pianist Liu Wei won the first ever series of China’s Got Talent in 2010 by beautifully playing the piano – with just his toes.

Back in 2010, Liu Wei went on to win China’s Got Talent after this incredible performance, which we’re happy to see is doing the rounds again.

Wei lost his arms when he was 10 years old after touching a high-voltage wire while playing hide-and-seek.

After 45 days in critical condition, he regained consciousness. And while in hospital, he met an armless painter who inspired him to learn to use his feet to do everyday activities.

Around the age of 18, Wei decided to use his new skill to pursue his dream of being a musician.

His first music teacher quit, believing it was impossible for someone to play the piano with just their toes. So, Wei taught himself how to play in secret.

Read more: This injured concert pianist thought he’d never play again. A pair of ‘bionic’ gloves changed everything. >

A decade ago, he wowed the judging panel on the first-ever series of China’s Got Talent and received a standing ovation from the audience for his first audition, following a performance of ‘Mariage D’amour’ by Richard Clayderman.

He told the judges: “At least I have a pair of perfect legs.”

Months later in the final, he sang James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ while also playing the piece on the piano.

Read more: 11 of the most relaxing pieces of piano music >

The stirring performance (watch above) saw him beat seven-year-old stand-up comedian Zhang Fengxi to be crowned champion. Liu was just 23 years old at the time.

The Beijing-born musician says the melodies he can play are limited due to the length of his toes.

There are some pieces he loves, but is unable to play because he can’t reach across octaves, ABC News reported.

Read more: Dad with dementia’s piano playing is a powerful reminder that music heals >

“I don’t know why people always believe my life is so painful because I don’t have arms,” he told Shanghai Daily.

“I am a happy man living a colourful life, just like other young people.”

What an amazing tale of the power of music – and an inspiring moment to relive.