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Versatile voice - Tan Jing

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

15:12, September 11, 2012

Tan Jing is an unconventional army singer, with a wide taste in music ranging from Chinese folk and pop songs to foreign soul, pop and R&B. (China Daily/Zou Hong)

Tan Jing has come a long way. From being a PLA singer, she has performed at the Beijing and London Olympics, London's Royal Albert Hall and recently, at the United Nations headquarters. Chen Nan catches up with the talented singer.

Tan Jing is perhaps the first person to sing while giving a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

She was there on Aug 7 to be appointed Sino-American cultural ambassador by Sino-American Culture and Arts Foundation, and Sino-American Friendship Association.

"I was supposed to give a speech but when I arrived at the meeting room, I decided to change the form of speech," Tan recalls during a recent interview which took place in a hotel lobby. Throughout the interview, Tan chuckles and jokes, projecting an image, which differs from her usual polished and serious self on stage.

"It was impromptu. Because it is hard to introduce Chinese folk music without music, I sang after introducing the background of each song."

The audience of 300 UN workers and Chinese-Americans were awestruck by her rendition of folk songs from the Tibet autonomous region and Shanxi province.

Tan also performed at London's Royal Albert Hall in November 2011 alongside Swedish pianist Robert Wells to create awareness of traditional Chinese folk music. Backed by performers from China and the UK, she sang a remix of traditional Chinese songs accompanied by the rocking rhythms of jazz piano, to appeal to local audiences. The improvised version sounded fresh and catchy, surprising even Tan herself.

"I found out that some audience members frowned at the program list before the opening of the concert, which made me so nervous. Most of the songs were strange to them but as I sang, I could see smiles appearing on their faces," she says. "That's the magical power of music which I always believe in. It is borderless."

The 35-year-old singer is a well-known name in China's music scene. Unlike many mainstream pop stars from Hong Kong, Taiwan or the mainland who rose to fame after participating in talent shows, Tan is a People's Liberation Army singer, who attracted attention after performing at Beijing's Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2008.

But she is an unconventional army singer, with a wide taste ranging from pop singer Faye Wong to foreign soul, R&B and pop singer Adele.

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