Jen Shyu

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2016
Doris Duke Impact Award, 2014

New York, NY

Jen Shyu is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, and Fulbright Scholar. She has produced six albums, becoming the first female artist and vocalist as bandleader on Pi Recordings. She specializes in lesser-known traditional forms such as East Timorese and Taiwanese song, Javanese Sindhenan, and Korean Pansori. This research inspired her work, Solo Rites: Seven Breaths (2014), directed by Garin Nugroho. She is a Doris Duke Impact Award recipient and has received grants from MAP Fund, Chamber Music America, Asian Cultural Council, and New Music USA, among others. She has performed her music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her latest album, Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi, 2015) ranked in The Nation’s and The New York Times’ Top 10 “Best Albums of 2015.” In March 2016, she premiered Song of Silver Geese, a multilingual, ritual music drama composed for her band Jade Tongue, dancer Satoshi Haga, and Mivos Quartet at Roulette.

  • Photo Credit: Lynn Lane
    Jen Shyu
  • Jen Shyu- Solo Rites: Seven Breaths (2014): /108610134
    Directed by Garin Nugroho
    Solo Rites: Seven Breaths (2014)
  • Jen Shyu- "Mother of Time" from Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi Recordings, 2015):
    Photo Credit: Garin Nugroho
    "Mother of Time" from Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi Recordings, 2015)
  • Jen Shyu- "MOXA" from Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi Recordings, 2015):
    "MOXA" from Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi Recordings, 2015)
  • Jen Shyu- Song of Silver Geese, Excerpt 1 (2016):
    Song of Silver Geese, Excerpt 1 (2016)
  • Jen Shyu- Song of Silver Geese, Excerpt 2 (2016):
    Song of Silver Geese, Excerpt 2 (2016)
  • Photo Credit: Steven Schreiber
    Jen Shyu

Artistically, what do you do & why do you do it?

As an American-East Timorese-Taiwanese experimental jazz artist with multiple identities, what I practice and perform around the world is a form of urban shamanism. My commitment to making this kind of work results in my performances fostering great compassion among people from all backgrounds on and off stage as I spread wider and dig deeper into my vision and craft as ritualist, composer, improviser, dancer, actress, multi-instrumentalist (piano, Taiwanese moon lute, gayageum, er hu, Timorese lakado, found objects), researcher, educator, and advocate for music traditions worldwide. Above all, I am a vocalist who sings in new improvised languages and existing ones (Indonesian, Javanese, Taiwanese, indigenous Taiwanese languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Tetum, Korean, etc.) in order to enable both audience and performer to transcend beyond what they knew themselves to be. Whether soloist or collaborator, I strive to create unrecognizable yet ecstatic, frightening, and transformative musical experiences for my audience by offering my voice as a bridge for the listener’s travel through complex sonic architectures, ultimately leading to his or her revelation and recovery from past sorrow.