Interview: Recording Artist Jennifer Zhang Debuts Video for ‘Flying High’ on Jan. 12, 2019

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CHICAGO – Asian American musician, model, actress, influencer, producer and entrepreneur Jennifer Zhang, based in Chicago, is making waves in the U.S. and global music scene with the premiere of her latest single and video, “Flying High.” The song is East meets West, with Chinese instruments and sounds blending with an energetic contemporary beat.

The video features Jennifer in two distinct settings… ancient traditional China, and the dream energy of modern day flight. The song dropped on January 5th, 2019, click here., and is available now on global music platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Amazon Music. The accompanying music video will debut on Saturday, January 12th, 2019, available on Youtube by clicking here.

Jennifer Zhang in the Traditional China Scene in the ‘Flying High’ Video
Photo credit:

Jennifer Zhang was born in Shanghai, and came to the U.S. when she attended Northwestern University near Chicago. She is a prolific and award-winning musician, studying at the prestigious Berklee School of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She has mastered piano and a variety of Chinese flutes (dizi, xiao, hulusi, bawu), the lute (pipa) and the zither (guzheng). In the “Flying High” video, she plays the guzheng and dizi.

She has performed on stages around the world, including London, Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong internationally, and Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas, Seattle and home base Chicago in the states. Her talent has been showcased for a number of A-list names, including former President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fashionistas Anna Wintour and Cindy Crawford, as well as business moguls Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg. She has been awarded the Best Asian Entertainer by the Chicago Music Awards, and took home first prize in a Chinese songwriting contest conducted in the U.S. She also has served as Miss Friendship Ambassador of Chicago and Miss China International. And to begin 2019, Jennifer was recently invited to heat up the stage for NBC-TV’s “America’s Got Talent.”

Concurrently with the song and video release of “Flying High,” Jennifer Zhang sat down with to talk about her music and performance art. What was the inspiration for the song and video for ‘Flying High’?

Jennifer Zhang: I was traveling back to China – in my role as musician I’m always traveling to different cities – and it came to me as I was ‘flying high’ in the sky. So the song is about feeling good about one’s self and touching the sky in realizing a dream.

In growing up in China, and studying the ancient Chinese instruments, I wanted to create a song that was about the East and West coming together. So in the beginning of the video I play the bamboo flute and the Chinese zither, and then I transition into English singing and modern beats. It represents my journey, and the connection between both the East and West elements of who I am.

In Flight: Jennifer Zhang on the set of ‘Flying High’
Photo credit: Which line in the song do you believe expresses who you are the most?

Zhang: It’s the chorus… ‘I’m flying high… I touch the sky… It feels so right.’ It’s about finding that right person or one’s own dream. Feeling that success, that pursuit of it and the happiness that results in it. You’ve talked about the ‘modern beats’ in the song/video ‘Flying High.’ What kind of attitude do you want an audience to get from that beat?

Zhang: I want to promote Eastern music to the West. I find the best way to do that is combining the Eastern sound with elements of modern music… including pop, R&B and rap. I feel that makes it more available to the mass market. Pop music is ‘pop’-ular and embodies all kinds of music. That’s the place I want my songs to be. What indication do you get from an audience when you feel like you have broken through in creating that bridge from East to West?

Zhang: I have actually formulated myself in that bridge creation. I speak both languages and I’ve studied the tonal theories and instruments for the music. After I started doing pop songs on the bamboo flute on YouTube, which are very popular, it made me realize there is a link… and I feel it brings people together. A high level musician like yourself spends a lot of time in solitude, mastering the complexities of the instrument. How does that make you a more reflective person?

Zhang: Being a musician is a very lonely job. Much of the time is spent alone thinking about the music, combined with the study and practice. Beyond that, I like reaching out to the people who like my compositions, in performance and online.

So you can stay connected to another person’s soul and emotions in that way. My connective and emotional flow is through the playing of my instruments, so I am constantly expressing that outward, even when I’m practicing. As a model, musician and actress, how does those different types of performance help each other? Do you have an example about what type of dynamic strongly asserts itself in all of those professions?

Jennifer Zhang, Flying High
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Zhang: I firmly believe as an artist, you have to project yourself within a certain look that is one of a kind. I am a part of expressing my own art. I realize that the way I look helps my presentation, and that’s part of how I present both myself in modeling, acting and music. I thing everything I do relates back to the other, because in the end it’s about performing, and to whoever I’m performing for in making a connection. What did you notice about your homeland of China after you spent a few years in the United States, that you never noticed before, when you went back?

Zhang: I started learning musical instruments at the age of five with some of China’s best professors. I grew up in a family that is very scholarly about Chinese culture. However, I didn’t appreciate that culture as much as I do now until I went away for school in America… it’s like when you leave something, that’s when you miss it the most, and when it’s non-existent, you really desire its existence. I love the music, and when I play the Chinese bamboo flute, I realize it’s over 5000 years old. The form of it is so simple yet it makes a magical sound, and through that sound I feel the beauty of the culture. From your point of view, what would be the best compliment for ‘Flying High,’ either in the song, video or performance sense?

Zhang: As an immigrant to the U.S., I have always stayed true and faithful to my cultural roots, while still searching for happiness and celebrating every bit of success that I have worked hard for in America. I hope ‘Flying High’ and my music will inspire people around the world to pursue their happiness and realize their dreams of their own.

I would love if people would like my songs. As long as an audience is enjoying ‘Flying High,’ and that it brings joy and inspiration in people, then as a recording and performing artist I have reached my goal. Take a listen to the song and watch the video, as we all look forward to FLYING HIGH together in the new year.

The video for the single “Flying High” debuts Saturday, January 12th, 2019, on YouTube (click this link on 1/12). For more information on Jennifer Zhang, visit her website by clicking here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

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