Wanting Qu: Chinese-Canadian singer-songwriter launches tour

Updated: 2014-02-28 13:12

By Bonnie Wong and Chang Jun in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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 Wanting Qu: Chinese-Canadian singer-songwriter launches tour

A familiar name to many Chinese pop fans, Harbin-born pop star Wanting Qu will launch a North American tour to promote her new album Say the Words. Provided to China Daily

Chinese-Canadian singer-songwriter Wanting Qu launches a tour for her second album Say the Words in late February in Vancouver, followed by 11 appearances in the United States in March.

Born in Harbin, China's Heilongjiang province in 1983, Qu moved to Canada at the age of 16 and was named Vancouver's first tourism ambassador to China in 2013.

"I'm that bridge between the two cultures and it's definitely something good that happened to me. I feel fulfilled and accomplished to be this ambassador," said Qu.

Despite not being born in Canada, Qu started her songwriting in Vancouver and the love that she has for the city can be seen as she promotes Canada overseas.

The singer-songwriter captured the hearts of Chinese fans when she was invited to the 2013 CCTV's Spring Festival Gala, and performed her hit single You Exist in My Song on Chinese New Year's Eve before an estimated 800 million viewers.

"It was very exciting," Qu recalled, adding that she wished she had done better because that platform is a desirable place for many international artists. "I was very happy to be on there," she said.

Qu is a familiar name to many Chinese, especially the younger generation, because more than 880,000 follow her tweets on Weibo, the Chinese social networking site equivalent to Facebook. Her fans are from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and North America.

Qu believes the quality of her music increases her popularity.

"I always had a strong belief in my songs. I know that my songs are good, and I know people will like my songs,"she said. "I was very confident that my music was going to go somewhere."

Shuffling back and forth between China and North America, Qu said that as a performing artist she felt the differences between the two cultures.

"I think I can be more of myself in North America, people are more accepting here in North America. They like the fact that you are different or that you are opinionated or you have attitude, or if you are outspoken," explained the 31-year-old. "The term singer/songwriter is not as well understood across China, so in the media I had to stress the singer/songwriter part of me because they tend to just call me a singer, which I don't like. "

Qu said she wants to bring together the West and the East as a Canadian artist with deep Chinese roots who sings and writes songs in English and Chinese.

Wanting's parents were initially against her becoming a singer-songwriter. Her parents encouraged her to explore fields such as in medicine or business. She recalls feeling very alone and frustrated, understanding that although her parents' intentions for her future were good, her main interest was her music.

Qu is the first Chinese artist to sign a contract with the Canadian Nettwerk Label, and she recalled her meeting with founder Terry McBride at a Sarah McLachlan concert in 2005. She had met McBride at a workshop and approached him believing that he should be her manager one day.

"Hey, Terry I love your artists, and I'm also a singer-songwriter, but right now I don't have music ready to show you. They're not recorded, but I hope one day I can show you my music," she recalled saying.

Four years later in 2009, Qu had her music ready, showed it to McBride and "he signed me."

Unlike her last visit to San Francisco for the Asian Heritage Street Celebration in 2013, Qu hints that her performance in San Francisco in March will be packed with more songs including not just her ballads, but also party songs with a full band.

Instead of her more popular songs, Qu recommends some of her songs in her second album, such as Life is a Struggle, Exit This Way and My little Friend.

"I suggest fans listen to my music with lyrics and read it while listening," she said

After her North America tour and then her Asia tour, Qu plans to take a break.

"I just hope maybe I can have some time to myself to live my life and write more songs. I feel I have been constantly going," she said. "So I want to be able to enjoy my life at least for a month, or two, or three after the tour."

Qu will perform in San Francisco on March 23 following appearances Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, San Diego and Los Angeles. She will add two more shows in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle on March 24 and 25, respectively.

Contact the writers at Bonniewong@chinadailyusa.com and junechang@chinadailyusa.com.

(China Daily USA 02/28/2014 page2)