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Jen Shyu

Multilingual Vocalist, Dancer

Jen Shyu ("Shyu" pronounced "Shoe" in English, Chinese name: 徐秋雁, Pinyin: Xúqiūyàn) is a groundbreaking, multilingual vocalist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, 2019 United States Artists Fellow, 2016 Doris Duke Artist, and was voted 2017 Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star Female Vocalist. Born in Peoria, Illinois, to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrant parents, Shyu is widely regarded for her virtuosic singing and riveting stage presence, carving out her own beyond-category space in the art world. She has performed with or sung the music of such musical innovators as Sumi Tonooka, Nicole Mitchell, Val Jeanty,Ikue Mori, Linda May Han Oh, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Dresser, Francis Wong, Jon Jang, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Kenny Barron, Reggie Workman, Bill Frisell, and Immanuel Wilkins. Shyu has performed her own music on prestigious world stages such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ojai Festival, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Gugak Center, National Theater of Korea and at festivals worldwide.

A Stanford University graduate in opera with classical violin and ballet training, Shyu had already won many piano competitions and performed the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto (3rd mvmt.) with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra by the age of 13. She speaks 10 languages and has studied traditional music and dance in Cuba, Taiwan, Brazil, China, South Korea, East Timor and Indonesia, conducting extensive research which culminated in her 2014 stage production Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, directed by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho. Shyu has won commissions and support from NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, MAP Fund, US-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship from Japan-US Friendship Commission and National Endowment for the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works, Exploring the Metropolis, New Music USA, Jazz Gallery, and Roulette, as well as fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Yaddo, MacDowell, Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Korean Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Tourism.

Shyu has produced eight albums and a single as a leader, including the first female-led and vocalist-led album Pi Recordings has released, Synastry (2011), with co-bandleader and bassist Mark Dresser. Her critically acclaimed Sounds and Cries of the World (2015) landed on many best-of-2015 lists, including those of The New York Times, The Nation, and NPR. Her critically acclaimed album Song of Silver Geese (2017) was also included on The New York Times’ Best Albums of 2017. “When I Have Power” from her latest album Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses, landed on Nate Chinen’s “Best Songs of 2021” list for NPR. All her albums are available on her label, Autumn Geese Records.

Even with the acclaim she has received for her recordings, Shyu is just as renowned for her dynamic performances. Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times that her concerts are "the most arresting performances I’ve seen over the past five years. It’s not just the meticulous preparation of the work and the range of its reference, but its flexibility: She seems open, instinctual, almost fearless." Her duo performance with Tyshawn Sorey was among The New York Times’ Best Live Jazz Performances of 2017. Larry Blumenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “her voice, a wonder of technical control and unrestrained emotion, tells a story dotted with well-researched facts and wild poetic allusions. She claims both as her truths.”

Currently based in New York City, Shyu is a Paul Simon Music Fellows Guest Artist and is co-founder with Sara Serpa of M³ (Mutual Mentorship for Musicians), a radical model of mentorship for women, non-binary, and underrepresented composer-performers around the world. She premiered her last solo work Nine Doors in 2017, kicking off a 50-state U.S. tour of “Songs of Our World Now / Songs Everyone Writes Now (SOWN/SEWN),” planting seeds of creativity and threading communities together through art and cultural exchange. She’s currently touring her third solo production Zero Grasses commissioned by John Zorn across all 50 states and has received wide critical acclaim for her latest album Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses, with “When I Have Power” on Nate Chinen’s “Best Songs of 2021” list for NPR. Jen is a renowned educator and has moved her teaching studio to her Patreon since the start of the pandemic. Jen Shyu is a Steinway Artist.

Her current instruments in performance include piano, violin, Taiwanese moon lute (2 strings), Chinese er hu (2 strings), Japanese biwa (4 strings), Korean gayageum (12 strings), Korean soribuk (drum), and Korean gong called "ggwaenggwari."

Job Title

2nd Generation

New York, NY, USA

AIR Artist

Jen Shyu

Photo by Steven Schreiber

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