After I finished my degree in music studies in England in 2005, I moved to Shanghai, because the little history Shanghai has with jazz music, there are some live jazz venues, I started freelance singing. At the very beginning, my repertoire were mostly English jazz standards, e.g. Cole Porter’s, Gershwin’s works, the audience are half Chinese and foreigners, after a few years, I started wanting to sing more creative and original music, so I begun to work with foreign jazz musicians in Shanghai who were interested in Chinese language and music, we collaborated to arrange Chinese folk and old songs with jazz elements, I also started writing Chinese lyric for foreign songs, in this way, I can introducing music to both Chinese and Western audiences.
In recent years, I started to do workshops in order to introduce jazz music to Chinese music lovers who are interested in jazz, and I also started singing on radio and doing TV program’s talk shows about jazz, I think it’s very important to share my music knowledge with people here. The numbers of local jazz listeners are growing in the past 10 years, they like to go to live jazz shows, the numbers of my fans are growing too, they like to come to my monthly show, and some are even from overseas. I am very grateful and glad for what I have achieved so far.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You came to wide public attention in 2008 when were featured with American pianist Steve Sweeting at the Zhu Jia Jiao World Music Festival and this propelled your singing career to the height where you have been at the top of the world as a singer. Tell us something about this professional journey in the world of music?
Ms. Jasmine Chen: Yes, it all started from the collaboration of Steve and I from 2007, both of us have passion in Chinese music, and want to do something about it. So we started to collect songs and re-arrange them, then perform them in public, the audience gave us very good feedback, after almost a year, we had quite enough materials for an album, so we recorded “the color of love”. Performing at Zhu Jia Jiao World Music Festival 2008 was our first big show, and it was very successful, it was a great platform to share our music.
Jasmine Chen on WomenFitness: I’m very happy to share my experience with all visitors, I hope all of you have a healthy lifestyle, always remain a happy, beautiful and young heart. Thanks to Psychedelichosting to give me this opportunity!
Ms. Namita Nayyar: How did you react when your first album, “The Color of Love”, is a collaboration with Steve Sweeting and was released in August 2008 to glowing reviews. This album featured jazz standards with original Chinese lyrics penned by you and Chinese folk songs reinterpreted in a jazz style?
Ms. Jasmine Chen: I was really excited about it. Steve and I did it together from scratch, combining Chinese music and lyric in jazz style, including Chinese folk songs from my childhood, seven of my original Chinese lyric, e.g. Paul Desmond’s “Take Five”, Chick Corea’s “Windows”, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Corcovado”, there are also songs that Steve and I wrote together, all of these are very meaningful to me. To the audience, it’s a fresh sound, old songs had been brought back in a new way, familiar western melodies with new Chinese lyrics, it’s a rare combination for them.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You began piano lessons at the age of four and continued on to study piano performance, contemporary composition and jazz vocal performance at Leeds College of Music in England, with education from Liverpool Community College and Exeter International School. How this learning and educational background helped you in sharpening and understanding the musical and singing skills you possess today?