I was asked by my dear friend Pagnia Xiong to tell my story of how I became the singer I am today.
My musical journey actually started from when I was a young child. I was in choir from kindergarten until my freshman year in college. Truthfully, I loved singing even before I started school.
My first idol was Ly Ntxheb with the band, Xanakee. Both my parents loved music and they would listen to Xanakee’s songs often while I was growing up. My dad had this huge stereo cassette player that took up the majority of the table in our living room. I had a habit of standing next to this looming stereo, putting my ear right up against it, and singing quietly along with Ly Ntxheb. At one point, I vowed that when I’d grow up, I was going to sing just like her.
Unsurprisingly, when the adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I responded with “a singer.” However, I was super shy as a child. When I sang, hardly any sound came out! One of my choir teachers had to put her ear right next to my mouth in order to hear and grade me. Throughout the years of being in choir, I learned about music and how to read music, but I didn’t really learn how to sing.
As I grew up, my response to the question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” became less clear. I discovered that I had two other passions: helping others and science. Although I loved singing, I recognized the importance of having an education and being a very dedicated student, I gave up singing to focus on my studies. I went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Psychology and pre-med. After graduation, I settled into a comfortable life. I sincerely thought that I had long buried my childhood dream of becoming a singer.
I sincerely thought that I had long buried my childhood dream of becoming a singer.
Last year, I lost a loved one close to my heart. I experienced a grief so deep that I didn’t know how to cope. One night, while I was trying to alleviate my sorrow, I felt the strongest urge to write a song. I got out of bed at 1:00 in the morning and wrote the first song I had written in years.
I had forgotten how therapeutic songwriting was and through the song I wrote, I felt a sense of renewed hope. From losing my loved one, I saw how short life is and how abruptly it could end. I looked at the song I wrote and felt that if I continued to live my life without even attempting to create music, I would most definitely regret it later. I decided that no matter what, I had to at least try.
I looked at the song I wrote and felt that if I continued to live my life without even attempting
to create music, I would most definitely regret it later.
The first person I shared my vision with was Pagnia. She was incredibly supportive and encouraging. She helped me realize that it’s not too late to pursue my dream. I knew that I was nowhere near being the singer I wanted to be so if I was going to really pursue music, I needed to grow and improve.
I joined a professional music support group and worked with a personal vocal coach for three months. I had to re-learn the basics of singing: breath support, vocal control, utilizing both my chest and head voices, and being connected with my body and vocal instrument.
From working with my coach, I realized that I have been merely imitating other artists’ voices all my life and started the journey to find my own unique voice. Just a few weeks ago, I completed my first studio recording session. I’ve included the links below to two of the songs I completed during this recording session.
I realized that I have been merely imitating other artists’ voices all my life and
started the journey to find my own unique voice.
Even though the results were far from perfect, the little girl in me who dreamed of becoming a singer is finally dancing with joy! This is just the beginning for me and I still have more growing to do. My next goal is to work on my own original songs. I will be sharing my songs “Wb Txoj Hmoo” and “Hlub Mus Ib Txhim” with you in the future!
My hope in sharing my story with you is that you will find inspiration to pursue your own dreams, no matter what they may be and regardless of your life circumstances. It’s never too late to do what makes your heart beat, to try something new, or to start all over again with something you’ve tried before.
May you always keep that fire burning from doing what you love and what makes your life worth living!