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Season 2, ”Behind the Lyrics, Beyond the Music,” is hosted by the remarkable Ginalina. As a Juno-nominated folk singer-songwriter, Ginalina is passionate about infusing Asian traditional or vintage folk songs with a modern twist. This season proudly showcases a female-focused series, delving into the life stories of IBPOC or migrant female musicians, allowing their voices to shine.

Episode 08

Blending Culture and Identity Through Guzheng

On the rise - Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan is a Guzheng player from Vancouver, Canada. At age 12 she began learning the 21 stringed traditional Chinese harp. Being born in Vancouver, Michelle’s parents encouraged her to learn the ancient Chinese harp to immerse her in Chinese culture.

After spending numerous years playing classical music, she decided to venture out and use the Guzheng to play genres of music that are mainstream. Michelle began her own Youtube channel and it has gained over 2,000,000 views. Michelle has been featured on various media including Guitar World, GlobalTV, CBC and Huffington Post.

Michelle is also a Guzheng teacher and is passionate about educating students ranging from young kids to seniors on the art of playing the Guzheng.

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Synopsis

Michelle Kwan was born in Vancouver and has lived here all her life. She embarked on her musical exploration from a young age, like many Asian children in Canada. Her musical journey began with piano lessons at the age of six.

Kwan continued to explore different instruments, including the cello, which she learned during her high school years. But what stands out the most is her skill in playing the guzheng. The 21-string traditional Chinese instrument requires graceful technique and a deep understanding of Chinese music. 

Kwan is also influenced by bands like Guns and Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Maroon 5. She began incorporating these Western pop/rock musical elements into her guzheng playing, creating unique musical compositions. Through music, she expresses herself in a distinctive way that transcends cultural boundaries.

By day, Kwan works as a data analysis manager, a job she is passionate about. However, music remains an integral part of her life. She participates in various music events, including street performances, music festivals, garden and outdoor music nights, and performances for residents of nursing homes. Her music attracts people from various backgrounds, from non-Chinese-speaking audiences to Asian immigrants and more.

Kwan’s music blends both Eastern and Western elements, encouraging people not to be limited by one over the other. She hopes to convey the message that we can build bridges between different cultures and create our own identities.

Michelle Kwan’s musical journey is one of passion and determination. In music, she found herself, and reconnected with her cultural roots. She wants to inspire people to envision a world that embraces diversity and understanding. Her musical voice embodies the spirit of Canada’s multiculturalism.

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Episode 07

Ebbing, Flowing, and Following the Process

On the rise - Mirabelle Jien

Mirabelle Jien

Mirabelle Jien is a singer, songwriter, flutist and composer from Alberta. She holds a Master of Music from the University of Toronto. Mirabelle uniquely blends her flute playing with her indie acoustic folk sound in her covers and originals. This can also be heard on her Twitch livestreams where she is a verified Partner.

Mirabelle is the host and creator of “Making It” , a podcast that brings together creatives to chat about all things creativity, entrepreneurship, and mental health. Guests include Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar winners and nominated artists, as well as YouTubers and Twitch streamers.

As a composer, Mirabelle has worked on various indie video games, commercial background music, and her own projects. Mirabelle’s most recent composition is called “Overcoming”. This piece was composed live on Twitch as a result of reaching donation goals for a Stop AAPI Hate charity stream she hosted in April 2021. She also worked with Cass. L. Mann on the lo-fi soundtrack for the video game, “The Day The Sky Fell”. In the classical genre, “Clarinet Quartet no. 1” was premiered at the Calgary Clarinet Choir Charity Concert to raise funds supporting Philkids, a music education initiative started by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

Beyond music, she has a passion for photography and videography. Her short film, “What Is Music to You?” was selected to be part of the Creator’s Offline “Create At Home” Film Festival (2020).

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Synopsis

Mirabelle Jien, a true creative polymath, defies convention by excelling in music, videography, and photography. Her journey into the world of the arts began under the influence of her musically gifted mother, who played the guzheng in Taiwan. This early exposure to both Western and Chinese classical music laid the foundation for Mirabelle’s own musical exploration.

Her musical education began with piano lessons and expanded to encompass guitar and flute, leading her to a formal introduction to songwriting in junior high. Inspired by artists like Adam Levine, she embarked on her creative songwriting journey, setting the stage for her diverse music career.

Mirabelle’s composition “Overcoming” stands out as a remarkable creation. It emerged from a charity stream on Twitch in April 2021, where she successfully raised over $10,000 Canadian dollars for the Stop AAPI Hate movement. The piece radiates themes of hope and resilience, countering the darkness of Asian hate and discrimination.

Her songwriting is distinctive in its focus on life experiences rather than conventional themes of love and heartbreak. “Lighthouse,” another of her creations, is a testament to this approach, offering solace and hope to those navigating challenging times.

One of the most cherished aspects of her creative journey is the connection she forms with her audience. Her music resonates deeply with people, offering them hope and inspiration. She warmly recalls a special performance in Taiwan where her extended family witnessed her talents in both flute playing and songwriting.

Mirabelle encourages individuals with multicultural backgrounds to explore their heritage, advocate for learning their language, and engage with cultural organizations. Her rich experiences highlight the endless possibilities that unfold when one passionately explores their creative talents.

To follow Mirabelle’s ongoing creative journey, tune in to her regular musical and creative content on Twitch.

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Episode 06

Building Trust and Baring Emotions

On the rise - Jacqueline Teh

Jacqueline Teh

Juno Award-winning songwriter Jacqueline Teh is widely recognized for her captivating vocal arrangements and limitless songwriting. Her voice, as described by CBC Music, is “a summer breeze – warm and inviting”. Jacqueline’s songwriting can be found on Sammy Jackson’s Juno Award-winning album “With You” and her innovative writing style with jazz/R&B ensemble Moodset has earned her an award through TD Jazz Festival’s Discovery Series. In 2020, Jacqueline’s songwriting caught the attention of Grammy Award-winning artist Anderson .Paak, who expressed an interest in producing one of her original songs and has remarked on her songwriting “[…] wow your writing style is unique! No one writes real songs like this no more!” Jacqueline is currently based in Markham and Toronto, Ontario. Along with her songwriting endeavours, Jacqueline also cares deeply about music education and accessibility in the arts. She is currently on faculty at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music in the Jazz Area, where she teaches jazz voice and directs the Small Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and she is serving as the executive director and choral conductor for St. James Town Community Arts, a non-profit organization providing free arts education to children and youth in St. James Town.

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Synopsis

Jacqueline Teh is an artist of many talents. Her musical prowess spans the realms of singing, songwriting, teaching, and artist administration. In this interview, we delve into her experiences, inspirations, and her passion for creating music that speaks to the heart.

Jacqueline’s musical journey began with a family connection. Her father, a musician in Myanmar, passed down his creative energy, teaching her piano from a young age. She also sang in children’s choirs, fueling her fascination with singing. High school led her to an arts program for voice, setting the stage for her career in music.

Jacqueline’s journey is a testament to her diverse talents. From choral composition to jazz arrangements and soulful melodies, she’s embraced a wide range of musical genres.

“I do enjoy all the things that I do, but songwriting with other people is probably my favorite…collaborating with others to overcome writer’s block and find the song.”

Collaboration is at the core of Jacqueline’s creative process. She cherishes the emotional connections formed during co-writing sessions and believes that sharing vulnerabilities is the key to great songwriting.

“My mentor taught me to approach teaching and music-making with heart and compassion.”

Mentors like Tara Cannon Gurira and peers such as Kristin Fung have played pivotal roles in Jacqueline’s life, showing her the path to success in the music industry. Tara’s compassionate teaching style and Kristin’s unwavering support have left a lasting impact on her.

Looking ahead, Jacqueline is focused on releasing her solo album and working on projects with her jazz R&B ensemble, Moodset. Her music is a testament to her dedication, and she hopes to spread her artistry to a wider audience while celebrating her Asian heritage.

Jacqueline’s journey is a testament to the power of resilience, collaboration, and staying true to one’s passion in the dynamic world of music.

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Episode 05

Representing Current Truth

On the Rise - Aiko Tomi

Aiko Tomi

Alt-pop artist AIKO TOMI is known for her energetic presence and unexpected lyricism. Her debut album, ‘Animal’s Awake,’ is a triumphant coming-of-age journey infused with a giddy, romantically hopeful spirit it’s a self-reclamation that also serves as playful commentary on our hyperconnected, image-obsessed, disposable culture. AIKO TOMI’s vibrant visuals and dynamic live performances create an immersive experience that celebrates freedom and self-expression. Her curated live music series, “The Cult of AIKO TOMI”, is a unique showcase highlighting independent artists with diverse perspectives. AIKO TOMI has garnered attention from esteemed media outlets such as Complex Canada, smART Magazine, the TD Music Connected Series, and Breaking Sound. Stay connected with AIKO TOMI by following her @aikotomic and explore more about her on the official website: www.aikotomi.com

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Synopsis

Aiko Tomi, a vibrant and energetic artist, invites us into her world of music and self-discovery. With a passion for songwriting, she crafts her work from lived experiences, infusing her unique personality into every note. In a candid interview, Aiko shares her journey of artistic evolution and her latest project, a testament to her authenticity.

“I’m good. Thanks so much for having me, this is exciting,” Aiko exclaimed as our conversation began. Aiko, the artist, comes to life with a contagious enthusiasm that’s impossible to ignore. She introduces herself as a songwriter and artist, hesitating to give a typical introduction. “I’m just pretty energetic, and I write things that I mean. I think pretty much all my songs are very lived-through experiences,” she says, embracing her genuine self.

Aiko’s artistic journey began as a classically trained pianist and composer. Her early repertoire often leaned towards melancholic and sentimental melodies, a style that initially garnered her recognition. However, she admits that this style didn’t truly reflect her personality, which is energetic and spirited. This disconnect between her music and stage presence led her to question her artistic identity.

During the pandemic, while searching for authenticity in her music, Aiko discovered the world of hyperpop and was instantly drawn to its high energy, glitchy sounds, and trap beats. This newfound inspiration led her to embark on a creative journey that felt more aligned with her true self than ever before.

Aiko’s latest project represents a significant departure from her earlier work, and she expresses her excitement about this alignment with her current truth. The reception to her new material has been different, reflecting her newfound authenticity.

Two songs that hold immense personal significance for Aiko are “Monolids” and “Handful.” These songs address her struggles with self-acceptance, particularly concerning her Asian heritage and body image. Growing up, Aiko grappled with beauty standards and the desire for physical attributes that didn’t align with her natural self. Discovering representation in the form of Lil Miquela’s digital persona profoundly impacted her perspective, leading to newfound self-appreciation.

“Handful” in particular is a powerful anthem that celebrates her small chest and encourages others to embrace their bodies. Aiko emphasizes that these songs resonate with many people who share similar experiences and insecurities, promoting self-love and acceptance.

As an independent artist, Aiko recognizes the challenges of competing in a saturated music industry. Her primary goal is to create art that resonates with those who connect with her message and experiences. While building her audience and reaching wider recognition would be rewarding, her focus remains on staying true to herself and her unique musical expression.

One of Aiko’s recent highlights was organizing her first event, “The Cult of Aiko Tomi: Kawaii Edition.” The event featured a diverse lineup of artists, emphasizing community-building and inclusivity. Aiko’s vision extends beyond just online engagement; she aims to connect with people on a deeper level through her art.

Aiko Tomi, with her infectious energy and unapologetic authenticity, reminds us of the power of embracing one’s true self. Her music is more than just a collection of songs; it’s a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, an invitation for all to join her in celebrating their unique identities.

In closing, Aiko Tomi leaves us with a poignant thought: “Our truths are the expressions of our experiences, and we’re all a product of where we came from. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness and create a more inclusive world through our art.

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Episode 04

Grounding Within Music

On the rise - Senyuè

Senyuè

Senyuè is a queer Chinese Canadian performer, producer, facilitator and expressive arts therapist with a major in Pacific and Asian studies with a focus on China. They have lived in both China and Canada and currently reside on the unceded traditional territories of the K’omoks Nation, colonially known as Cumberland, BC. Their musical work surrounds their Chinese Canadian family legacy, ancestors, history and queer identity as well as speaking hard truths about racism in Canada.  Through movement, storytelling, and folk song, their expression paints a story through colonial history to our current day from a decolonized lens. It encourages community members to learn, be self-reflective, and invites the question of how we would like to move forward. We can’t move forward without first acknowledging where we have come from even if it’s hard to do so.

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Synopsis

In a world where music serves as a bridge between cultures and identities, Holly Goldes, known artistically as Senyuè, stands out as a unique voice. With a passion for music that has been ingrained since childhood, Senyuè’s artistry transcends boundaries and invites listeners to explore their own roots and identities.

Holly Goldes, under the artistic name Senyuè, derives their name from a deep connection to nature and a transformative backpacking experience in China during 2007-2008. “Senyuè” translates to “small hill move” in Mandarin, reflecting the profound impact this journey had on Senyuè’s identity and music. Their journey isn’t solely geographical but also personal, as they identify as non-binary and embrace their Chinese Canadian heritage.

“I’m half-Chinese, fifth generation Chinese Canadian settler here in the lands collectively known as Canada,” Senyuè shares, adding, “I’m also a quarter Scottish and quarter Ukrainian, and my identity, and kind of through this interview, you’ll see a lot of my work has to do with identity as well.”

Senyuè’s artistic journey began at a young age. Growing up in a household where music was celebrated, their mother, a music teacher, and founder of a chamber choir, exposed them to the joys of music. Senyuè’s early connection to music became a foundational part of their identity, serving as a link to their family and origins.

However, tragedy struck when Senyuè’s mother passed away during their teenage years, coinciding with the loss of many Chinese elders in their family. This loss ignited a deep exploration of their identity, ancestry, and the question, “Who am I?” As a Chinese Canadian, fifth-generation descendant, this quest for identity became a central theme in Senyuè’s music and artistic journey.

In recent years, Senyuè’s music has taken on a new dimension, especially during the pandemic. They observed a rise in anti-Asian sentiments and violence in their Vancouver community, which compelled them to accelerate their musical pursuits. Senyuè’s music serves as a powerful medium to address racism, gender identity, and the historical contributions of people of Asian descent to Canada.

“Music is a way for me to connect with my identity, my family, and my origins,” Senyuè emphasizes. Their work explores themes of race, racism, and the history of Canadian legislation, providing a platform for dialogue and understanding. As a therapist in expressive arts, Senyuè sees their music as a tool for fostering empathy and unity, encouraging communities to explore their diverse backgrounds.

Senyuè’s music is deeply rooted in nature and personal experiences. They incorporate grounding techniques into their performances, recognizing that music can elicit strong emotions. Grounding, for Senyuè, involves connecting with the Earth, the central nervous system, and the breath. These practices not only enhance their performances but also provide a sense of care for both themselves and their audience.

Senyuè acknowledges that some of their songs can be emotionally activating due to the themes they address. They carefully balance the need to delve into challenging subjects while providing a supportive and caring environment for their listeners.

Senyuè’s songwriting process varies from song to song. Some songs flow effortlessly in the moment, while others require more time and introspection. One of their standout compositions, “Music Carry Me Home,” was a longer and more intricate project that involved combining two separate pieces into one powerful narrative.

The song’s evolution was marked by performances that explored its themes through spoken word and storytelling. Senyuè’s ability to connect history, personal experiences, and emotional resonance in their music creates a unique and engaging experience for their audience.

Senyuè’s music has been featured in various settings that celebrate cultural identity and heritage. One notable event was their performance at the “Belonging” celebration in Cumberland, B.C. This event marked the 125th anniversary of the village and aimed to foster a sense of community and pride.

The performance coincided with an exhibition at the Cumberland Museum titled “A Seat at the Table,” recognizing the historical contributions of Chinese Canadians to Canada’s development. Senyuè’s music played a crucial role in rekindling this sense of pride and identity, making it a poignant moment for the audience.

As Senyuè looks to the future, collaboration is a key focus. They aspire to collaborate with artists who share their passion for exploring cultural identities and heritage. One such collaboration is with Jeremy Paul, also known as Saltwater Hank, who sings in his First Nations language. Their shared commitment to reclaiming and celebrating cultural heritage could lead to a powerful artistic partnership.

Senyuè also dreams of embarking on a tour with their music, accompanied by their partner and soon-to-arrive newborn. Their vision is to travel through British Columbia, playing in various communities, and hosting workshops to facilitate dialogue on identity, history, and culture. This tour would be an opportunity to deepen the impact of their music on diverse audiences.



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Episode 03

Crossing Borders and Bridging Culture

On the rise - Amely Zhou

Amely Zhou

Amely Zhou is an erhu performer, a Chinese music specialist, an adjudicator and a conductor. In 2014, Amely graduated from York University with a Specialized Honours B.A. in music. Amely’s music has been featured on TVO, Fairchild TV and CNTV. Amely is currently the music director of the Canadian Chinese Orchestra. Under the baton of Amely Zhou, the orchestra has toured in China and performed at the Markham Theatre, the Sony Centre, and the Mississauga Living Art Centre. In 2020, Zhou led a group of multi-ethnic ensemble Estro-genesis and performed a series of Canadian works for the Toronto Music Garden’s summer music program. Through an invitation from the Small World Music Society, Amely Zhou directed the Borderless Music project and produced a music documentary. Amely Zhou’s diverse talents and dedication to promoting Chinese music and cultural exchange have made her a prominent figure in the Canadian music scene, leaving a lasting impact through her performances, leadership, and collaborations.

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Synopsis

Amely’s musical journey is a harmonious blend of personal stories, cross-cultural experiences, and a deep passion for Chinese music that has resonated across continents. Born and raised in Shenzhen, China, Amely embarked on a transformative journey when she moved to Canada in 2006 as a teenager. Little did she know that her love for Chinese music would pave the way for numerous opportunities and a profound impact on the Canadian music scene.

“I came to Canada with a dream to share Chinese music, but I had no idea that the possibilities would be so abundant,” Amely reflects, a touch of amazement in her voice. Her eyes light up as she recalls her early days in Canada, navigating a new country while holding onto her cultural roots.

Amely’s journey of music began at a tender age, shaped by the unique educational system in China. “Music was a mandatory after-school activity, and I chose to attend the music class,” she reminisces. Her eyes sparkle as she recalls the days when her musical sense took flight, eventually leading her to a specialized art school where she could fully immerse herself in the world of music.

One of Amely’s passions lies in playing traditional Chinese instruments, particularly the guzheng and the erhu. “The guzheng’s pentatonic scale creates such a mesmerizing sound. Its history spans over 2,000 years, and I was drawn to its deep cultural resonance,” Amely shares, her fingers tracing invisible patterns in the air, mirroring the delicate dance of her instrument’s strings.

As Amely talks about the erhu, her voice becomes hushed and reverent. “The erhu’s hauntingly beautiful sound resonates like a soulful, nostalgic song. It’s played with a bow made from horsehair, producing a unique and deep resonance,” she explains. Her hands mimic the bowing motion, a graceful connection between her words and the melodies she creates.

While Amely’s mastery of these instruments is impressive, her dedication to passing on her knowledge is equally inspiring. “Teaching is a way to bridge generations and cultures. Watching my students connect with their heritage through music is incredibly rewarding,” Amely shares, a warm smile gracing her face.

Amely’s passion for fostering a strong Chinese music community led her to explore conducting. “Conducting brings people together, allowing them to experience the beauty of Chinese music collectively,” she says, her eyes reflecting the joy of creating harmonies that transcend borders.

Through the Canadian Chinese Orchestra (CCO), Amely has been instrumental in showcasing Chinese music’s evolution within Canada. “Our performances at iconic venues like the Ontario Museum and Harbourfront provide a platform for audiences to engage with Chinese music in meaningful ways,” Amely explains, her excitement palpable.

Beyond performance, Amely’s composition “The Journey” is a testament to her creative spirit and collaborative nature. “The Borderless Project brought together musicians from diverse backgrounds. We created a musical dialogue that transcended boundaries, a reflection of our shared humanity,” she reflects, her voice infused with a sense of unity.

Amely’s journey has witnessed the transformation of Canadian perceptions towards Chinese music. “Audiences now recognize and appreciate Chinese music as part of Canadian culture. This growing awareness is incredibly gratifying for Chinese musicians like me,” Amely asserts, a sense of accomplishment in her words.

As Amely continues her musical odyssey, her legacy becomes a harmonious blend of cultures, a melody that resonates with unity and appreciation. With each note she plays, each student she guides, and each composition she crafts, Amely’s journey stands as a testament to the power of music in bridging cultures and enriching lives.

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Episode 02

Vulnerability As Strength

On the rise - Kim Yang

Kim Yang

Inspired by Joni Mitchell and Bon Iver, Taiwanese-Australian songstress Kim Yang writes music on love, life, and mental health issues with evocative lyrics, driving melodies and soaring vocals. Her ethereal blend of sounds balances delicately between vulnerability and strength.

Since developing a passion for music at an early age, Kim has shared her voice everywhere from intimate bookshops to national television. In 2016, driven by a desire to share her stories with the world, Kim picked up her ukulele and guitar and started writing songs. She stepped out of her bedroom and into the streets, markets, and cafes of Canberra. Since then, she has collaborated with renowned local artists and played at major venues in Canberra, around Australia and overseas.

Kim has supported and shared the stage with ARIA awarded artists including Katie Noonan, Josh Pyke, Ben Lee, Kate Ceberano, Steve Kilby (The Church) and Fanny Lumsden. Kim has performed at the Australian of the Year Awards Ceremony, Sydney Folk Festival, National Folk Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Australia Day Concert and sold out headline shows. In 2022 she was nominated as 2022 Artist of the Year by MusicACT, and toured Australia with 2022 Australian Folk Artist of the Year Fred Smith.

Kim has released two EPs and one live album with funding support from various government grant bodies. Her music has been aired on Australia’s double J, triple J radio stations, as well as community radio stations across Australia and Taiwan.

Kim is currently living in Beijing, China where she is expanding her skills as a songwriter, home producer and touring musician. She has been busy co-writing with various artists for her upcoming release in 2023.

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Synopsis

In a world that often demands conformity, Australian singer-songwriter Kim Yang has carved out a unique path that intertwines her Taiwanese heritage and her Australian journey. With a compelling blend of ethereal melodies and heartfelt storytelling, Kim’s music is a reflection of her intricate journey through life, identity, and self-expression.

Born in Taiwan and eventually moving to Australia in 2012, Kim’s journey has been one of self-discovery and transformation. Overcoming her innate shyness, she discovered a passion for music that would change her life. From singing in the shower to performing in front of captivated audiences, Kim’s evolution as a musician was marked by her willingness to embrace vulnerability and express herself through her songs.

“I’ve always been a shy person. It’s kind of weird to open a conversation with people and tell them, you know, I just had a heartbreak the other day. Writing music became a way for me to share my feelings and experiences,” Kim shares, her voice tinged with both vulnerability and determination.

Kim’s artistic influences paint a vivid picture of her musical roots. Inspired by the ethereal soundscapes of Bon Iver and the deeply personal storytelling of Joni Mitchell, she channels their spirit into her own work. “I just love how ethereal his [Bon Iver’s] music is and how he still tells his story in such beautiful, flowing music. Joni Mitchell’s stories in her songs inspired me to just be myself, just being a woman.”

One pivotal moment in Kim’s journey was her decision to pursue music full-time. “I was working in an office job, surrounded by scholars and academics. I felt this need to have some kind of legacy in my life,” Kim reflects. “I just want to write down all my life experiences and make them into songs. So I have something to share and can relate to other people as well.”

Kim’s multicultural background is an integral part of her artistic identity. “Moving to Australia because of my partner in my early twenties was a breakthrough. I’m somewhere in between these cultures,” she explains, embracing the complexities of her identity. Her upcoming collaboration with Canadian-Chinese artists, incorporating English and Mandarin, is a testament to her commitment to connecting diverse cultures through her art.

“Fantasy,” a standout track from Kim’s EP, resonates deeply with her experiences. “I wrote ‘Fantasy’ during COVID when I was separated from my family for a while. It’s about longing for my parents’ love and hoping they can understand my journey as a musician,” Kim reveals. The song’s poignant lyrics capture her desire for her parents to witness her achievements and appreciate her path.

Through her music, Kim Yang bridges the gap between her Taiwanese roots and her Australian experiences, crafting a sonic tapestry that resonates with a global audience. Her exploration of different languages and cultures speaks to her commitment to connecting diverse experiences. As Kim continues to write and perform, her music serves as an invitation to all to embrace their stories, struggles, and aspirations. With her unique voice and fearless approach to expression, Kim Yang is a rising star whose journey promises to captivate hearts around the world.

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Episode 01

Music As Survival

On the rise - Chynna Lewis 1

Chynna Lewis

Chynna Lewis is a Pop/R&B singer-songwriter based in Toronto. Her music deftly weaves R&B, soulful vocals, and folk into classic pop songwriting, creating a dreamy, modern, and genre-blurring sound. Her unique style can be found in her most recent self-produced EP “What Are Friends For”. As of late, the EP was spotlighted on CBC Radio One, Exclaim!, as well as a number of major International Spotify Playlists.  

As a vocalist, Lewis has supported international and local artists such as Ed Sheeran, Jessie Reyez, Charlotte Day Wilson and Jully Black, and has appeared on world-renowned stages such as the Late Late Show with James Corden, The Budweiser Stage, Scotia Bank Arena, and Toronto Jazz Festival. Recently she opened the Toronto Raptors’ NBA Game by leading both the Canadian and American National Anthems on home court.

Since moving to Canada from Taiwan at the age of eleven, her journey as a young immigrant navigating a culturally in-between identity and finding an unlikely place in the arts is what inspired her to begin writing her own songs on the family piano. These creative instincts eventually led her to her career in music.

Lewis is an alumnus of the Humber College Contemporary Jazz Vocal program, where she studied with Canadian music icons Larnell Lewis and Rik Emmett. 

Striving to be a contributor to the representation of Asian artists in the music industry, Lewis is overjoyed to be sharing her first EP with the world. Currently, she is working on her sophomore full-length album, which is set to be released in the spring of 2024.

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Synopsis

Toronto’s vibrant cultural tapestry serves as the backdrop for the captivating musical odyssey of Taiwanese-Canadian artist, Chynna. A singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Chynna’s melodies resonate with her diverse heritage and personal experiences, creating a harmonious fusion that captivates hearts worldwide.

Chynna’s artistic realm stretches beyond the confines of her talents. A singer in a Motown band and an educator, her musical prowess paints a picture of versatility and boundless creativity. Yet, beneath her artistic veneer lies a profound story of resilience, chronicling the transformative power of music amidst life’s challenges.

Her recent EP release, a window into her world, features the poignant track “What Are Friends For?” A reflection on friendship’s intricacies, the song emerged during the pandemic and societal unrest, exploring the dynamics of relationships tested by adversity. Through heartfelt verses, Chynna challenges conventional definitions of friendship, inviting listeners to explore the depth of true connections.

“‘What Are Friends For?’ emerged during a time of global upheaval,” Chynna reveals. “It reflects my journey navigating disappointments and friendships that stood the test of time. The song serves as a reminder that genuine connections thrive through life’s storms.”

While Chynna’s artistic journey is marked by creative prowess, it’s her ability to unearth raw emotions that truly sets her apart. A breakthrough moment during a therapy session unveiled wounds from her immigrant past, unveiling the pain and resilience that infuse her music. Her poignant memories of uprooting from Taiwan at age 11 remain etched in her narrative.

“The experience of leaving Taiwan was both heart-wrenching and transformative,” Chynna recalls. “That defining moment shaped my music, infusing it with emotions that run deep.”

Chynna’s piano, a cherished possession, symbolizes her identity and ancestral roots, embodying the power of music to heal. Amidst her tumultuous journey, the piano became a sanctuary, enabling her to navigate life’s challenges and discover her voice.

“The piano was my refuge,” Chynna reflects. “Amidst life’s chaos, it allowed me to express myself and find strength. It became a lifeline during tough times.”

Chynna’s creative process often begins with melodies and lyrics at her piano, later transitioning to the studio. Collaborating with fellow musicians and producers, her emotions transform into tangible sound, weaving intricate layers of rhythm and harmony.

“The studio is where magic happens,” Chynna notes. “Collaborating with fellow musicians breathes life into my ideas, shaping them into resonant melodies.”

Despite artistic uncertainties, Chynna remains steadfast in her dedication, aspiring to create a body of work reflecting her evolution as both artist and individual. Her music serves as a beacon of inspiration, resonating with those navigating similar paths. Through her art, Chynna empowers listeners to embrace their stories and find strength in vulnerability.

“My music seeks to connect on a personal level,” Chynna affirms. “I hope it resonates with others, encouraging them to embrace their journey. Music heals and inspires, and I want to be part of that journey.”

Chynna envisions herself as an inspiration, especially for younger generations seeking guidance. Her transformative journey reflects music’s potential for healing, self-discovery, and connection. Chynna’s melodies echo her narrative, a testament to the profound impact of music as a tool for empowerment and a harmonious source of solace.

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Jade Music Fest is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). We acknowledge our privilege to operate on these lands, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples whose music and culture encourages us to better listen to each other.

Jade Music Fest is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). We acknowledge our privilege to operate on these lands, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples whose music and culture encourages us to better listen to each other.

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OCT 18 - 20

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