Sunday March 9, 2003

thoughts on vienna teng, music, and representation

so i got to see vienna teng tonight at mozart’s.  have had the cd for a couple months now (http://www.viennateng.com) and have really appreciated the thoughtfulness of her lyrics.  but getting to see her live and hearing new songs too was indescribable.  it’s hard to believe that she’s my age and so accomplished at writing lyrics.  she wrote one of the songs on the album at the age of 16! (and it’s one of my favorites…) you know how sometimes you see stuff or people’s talents and just have to say, wow.  that good art really does reveal more Truth.  i really can’t say enough about her…

but yeah, i think she could very well be the ‘next big thing’… one thought, though, as i sat and watched… i was thinking about just how nice it was to see someone who ‘looks like me’ performing in front of a rapt audience… i guess, there really haven’t been many asian pacific american women (or men for that matter) that have garnered this much attention (NPR, letterman…).   it was just really nice to see an apa woman not doing the sexy, classical music thing (not that there’s anything wrong with that)… i’ve been thinking a lot lately about the representation thing – the way we view the world i think is influenced so much by the reflections we see.  so, if all the asian women on tv are just servants or exotic or really nerdy, i think that affects us more than we know…

i can’t count the number of times i’ve been told “your english is really good! <sic>”.  or been asked where i’m from, with that expectant look that says “please say somewhere very foreign”  along with that model minority myth, there’s the perpetual foreigner myth, which plagues asian pacific americans – no matter how many generations, we’re still foreign…  so it was nice, to see someone being accepted for doing what she does, and doing it really well…

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