News / Arts & Entertainment

    Korean-American BettySoo Took Long Route to Music Career

    BettySoo with her band.
    BettySoo with her band.
    Katherine Cole

    Texas singer-songwriter BettySoo’s fourth CD, “When We’re Gone” is a collection of songs that deal with the messy parts of life we all go through. The Asian-American folk singer took a long route to a singing career.

    When she was growing up just outside of Houston in Spring, Texas, “singer-songwriter” wasn’t near the top of BettySoo’s list of things to do when she grew up. It wasn’t that she didn’t love performing; it just didn’t seem like a serious career choice for an American-born daughter of two doctors who came here from Korea a few years before she was born.

    “My parents were enough like the typical Korean parents that we did not feel like we were going to be musicians. Actually, that’s not totally true---they still really encouraged studying hard and wanted us to get straight A’s [on report cards], that whole thing," she said. "But, they always said don’t become a doctor or a lawyer because you want to please us. Of all the things you are interested in, choose one of those things. Because, you’re going to wait until we die and you’ll resent it. And it will be too late to pursue those things.”

    Korean-American BettySoo Took Long Route to Music Career
    Korean-American BettySoo Took Long Route to Music Careeri
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X


    BettySoo studied English in college and was 26 years old, in graduate school and working on a masters degree in counseling, before she even gave serious thought to singing professionally. She says she’s glad she had that time in school, even if she didn’t finish, because it taught her to listen and to also dig a little deeper to try to find the “backstory” that makes people do what they do…

    “In college, I was also an education minor and that was one of those things that you learn about there, too," she said. "You know, a kid walks in to your classroom and maybe they’re acting up. Instead of just addressing the behavior, there’s this reminder that you always have to tell yourself that there’s more story there than you know. Something could be going on at home. Something could be going on on the playground. Something could be going on medically. Every person you encounter, there are deeper stories there. There are scars and painful histories that you might not be the one to hear, but they’re there.”

    BettySoo wrote her first song in 1984, and released her first CD a year later. Soon, she was winning prestigious songwriting contests and performing at festivals and in clubs not just across the United States, but also in Canada and Europe. She credits living in the music hub of Austin, Texas for helping her learn her craft and advancing quickly.

    “People taught me how to write press releases, how to do publicity, how to book shows, the art of performance, all kinds of things. And it wasn’t necessarily ‘sit down and teach you,’ but you were just surrounded by it," she said. "And you were surrounded by people who did it well and people who didn’t do it well. And that was a really great education.”

    Today, BettySoo is paying back that generosity, making herself available to musicians who are just starting out - offering to share their songs with other singers, giving advice on publicity materials and website design.  

    “I mean I guess there are now resources online or in books or in seminars or workshops where people can kind of learn how to do this ‘thing’…but I don’t think people who are trying to chase a dream should have to pay thousands of dollars to learn how to do it,” she said.

    When BettySoo’s first CD appeared, much was made of how unusual it was to find an Asian-American woman singing onstage at a folk festival. Today, with four solo releases and several collaborations, reviews focus first on her stellar singing and songwriting - a sure sign she’s moved into the mainstream.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.