One of my favorite recent discoveries is the music of Vienna Teng. I love the name. She chose it. It fits. A Taiwanese-American singer/songwriter from California, Vienna has a gorgeous, angelic voice that exudes intelligent sweetness, but is never saccharine.
She has called her music “Chamber Folk”, which rings true. Influenced by Classical, Jazz, Folk and Pop, Vienna Teng sings on the edge of discovery. She flies higher, but doesn’t overreach. When she is not singing, just talking, she sounds more than down to earth. She seems relaxed about her place on the surface of this planet. But music lifts her off that surface again and again and again.
From her myspace page:
Influences: My parents’ record collection: Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Mozart and Beethoven, 60s Mandarin pop. That’s what I started with and it’ll never leave me. Later on, pianist-songwriters: Elton John, Billy Joel, Tori Amos. These days I’m influenced by whoever intimidates me. I hear them, I’m astounded by them, I think daily about quitting music because I’ll never be able to do it as well as they do. Then I try to steal from them without imitating. A tricky thing.
Her background is a little unusual for the music scene. She got her degree at Stanford in Computer Science, and later went to work for Cisco as a software engineer. Angelic geek, I suppose. I don’t hear the influence of computers in her music, but perhaps she integrates them in the production phase. Her music is exquisite.
For a recent performance on NPR, click here for the website
Update: A beautiful song from her 2013 album, Aims.