News / Arts & Entertainment

Singer Wanting Bridges Gap Between Asian, Western Cultures

Chinese-Canadian Singer Wanting No. 1 in China, Several Asian Countriesi
X
David Byrd
March 21, 2014 12:49 AM
She has just released her second CD, Say the Words, and already Chinese-Canadian singer Wanting is No. 1 in China and several Asian countries. VOA’s David Byrd caught up with the singer on her North American tour, and reports she is bridging the gap between Asian and Western cultures through her music.
David Byrd
She has just released her second CD, "Say the Words," and already Chinese-Canadian singer Wanting is No. 1 in China and several Asian countries.  She is bridging the gap between Asian and Western cultures through her music.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Wanting (full name Wanting Qu) didn’t start out to be an international pop star.  The thin, delicately-featured Harbin, China native first touched a piano when she was five.

“I actually played the first piano that I touched when I was five and that’s when I played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” she said. “We were at my mom’s friend’s house and my mom was like ‘did you just play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” without any training or anything?’ And so she saw that I had some sort of musical talent and so she gave me a piano as a birthday gift on my sixth birthday.”

She studied classical piano for three years, but then stopped playing for more than a decade.  Wanting moved to Canada when she was 16, learned English, and then studied business for four years.

But she was miserable.

“I was studying economics,” she said.  “Eventually I graduated in business management. But I spent four years not loving my life. I hated it.  So I know, it was a lesson for me - it took four years to know that I don’t want to do business.”

Music returns

By 21, she had revived her music, and began writing and composing her own songs.  She participated in a workshop conducted by Terry McBride, the founder of Vancouver’s Nettwerk Records, which handled artists such as Sarah McLachlan and Avril Lavigne.

After four years of putting together demo CDs, Wanting sent one to McBride, who signed her to Nettwerk. She also returned to China where a friend Xiao Kui of the punk band Noodle Killers helped her establish valuable connections in her homeland.

Commercial success

Wanting’s first CD "Everything in the World" was released in 2012 and was a huge success in China, reaching multi-platinum status thanks to her single "Drenched," which director Pang Ho-cheung used in his film "Love in the Buff."

Wanting’s single “You Exist in My Song” had more than 100 million combined video views and was the #1 radio single in China for eight weeks.

She also raked in several awards, including three Global Chinese Music Awards and four Chinese music awards.  She also performed on the China Central Television New Year’s Gala, seen by an estimated 700 million people.

Across Cultures

The Chinese-Canadian singer says that writing in English and Mandarin is a challenge, but she wants to stay true to what’s in her heart.

“I think the Chinese songs that I wrote are the way they are right now is because I am Chinese, I lived in China for 16 years, I have that in me,” she said.  “But I am also like, half Canadian. I have lived over a decade in Canada. So whatever you hear or see with my music, that’s just who I am, that’s the way I am.”

From the Heart

For all her success, Wanting says that she doesn’t cater her songs to her audience. Instead, she writes from the heart and her music finds an audience.

“I write songs for myself,” she said emphatically.  “But then afterwards, when the song becomes this piece of art and it goes to the society and it goes to the world and people love my songs, that’s rewarding to me. I do feel happy about that. But that’s not the … I don’t write the song initially for the people.”

Asked if she has a favorite song on "Say the Words," Wanting picked “Life is a Struggle,” which had a unique genesis.

“I didn’t write it in real life; I dreamt the melody in my dream,” she said. “And then I woke up I put down the melody and I finished the song that day.  And it’s like, basically just how I felt, purely how I felt in those days.   Life is a struggle.”   

Some could say her musical dreams are coming true. "Say the Words" debuted at No. 1 in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Malaysia.  

One of her songs from the CD, “When It’s Lonely,” was featured on the Chinese soundtrack for the movie "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

"Say the Words" also features Far East Movement on the cut “Time, My Friend.”  Grammy award-winning producer Ron Aniello - who has worked with Bruce Springsteen and Bare Naked Ladies - produced the CD for Nettwerk.

Wanting is currently wrapping up a North American tour which has taken her across Canada and the United States.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."