Rachel Wong wants to be more than an idol — Chinese American performs to promote debut album

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly


Rachel Wong (Photo by Jordan Nicholson)

Rachel Wong will not win American Idol, but that’s fine by her. The 23-year-old singer/songwriter hopes to represent Asian American women in music as she is pursuing her passion. Without a record deal, Wong wrote, performed, and is now promoting her debut album, “Curtain Fall.”

“My heart and my soul is my music,” said Wong. The Chinese American based out of Seattle hopes to represent Asian Americans, especially women, in the underrepresented industry of music. “Asian American women are severely underrepresented in music,” remarked Wong, “It’s sad.”


Rachel Wong (Photo by Wan Photography)

Wong began her musical training at the age of 3. “It’s the Asian stereotype, but I began playing piano.” In the eighth grade, she taught herself to play the guitar.

“It didn’t take too long,” Wong recalls. She attributes her piano training and an ear for melody in helping her learn the guitar on her own. In addition to the guitar, she learned to play the drums while in her elementary school band.

“My musical influences come from church.” Wong grew up singing and playing in her church choir.  She is the youngest of three children. Her brother, a Princeton University graduate, is a budding musician as well.

Wong described her parents as “not stereotypical,” as they have been supportive of the musical abilities of their children and are proud of her burgeoning music career.

“They come to gigs and are immersed in music,” stated Wong.

In the seventh grade, she began writing songs based on what was going on in her life, but mostly “teen angstsy” type issues. She started writing songs in earnest during her senior year of high school and in college. Her writings, which embrace topical issues, continue to draw on personal experiences, interactions with others, and stories of different people. Most of her songwriting starts with music and a melody from her guitar. She then adds lyrics. One of her latest creations is a love song that incorporates board game references.


Rachel Wong (Photo by Wan Photography)

Wong grew up in Vancouver, Wash., and came to Seattle to study at the University of Washington. She is a 2010 graduate with a degree in communications. While in college, she performed original songs for the first time in front of a live audience at an open mic night hosted by the University of Washington’s School of Drama. Although Wong had performed in front of family, friends, and her church, singing her own songs was different. “I couldn’t look at the audience while I was singing,”
Wong recalled. “I was focused on not messing up.” Despite the initial stage fright, Wong enjoyed the spotlight, sharing her music. She has become comfortable in front of audiences.

Wong describes her music as “acoustic pop, not as produced and influenced by soulful vocals.” She lists Lauryn Hill, Adele, and John Mayer as influential in her music. Her style is driven by her skillful guitar playing and her complementary soothing voice.

This past summer, Wong tried out for American Idol, but did not make the initial cut.

“It was a good experience, but I don’t think I would do it again,” Wong said of trying out for the popular reality television show.

Although she does not have the financial backing of a record company, Wong decided to create her own album with the help of friends. A former co-worker and musician let her use a makeshift studio in the basement of his home.

A friend produced the album, and local musicians contributed their time to the album. Wong, who works in marketing, utilizes her work experience in promoting the album.

Wong relies on all forms of social media including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Her album is available for purchase on iTunes.

She also shot a video for a song on the album. “Working with Rachel on the Curtain Fall music video was an amazing experience. Not only is she a very talented singer and songwriter, but her lyrics tell a story that people can connect to on several levels,” said John Wakayama Carey, the filmmaker for Wong’s music video.

While promoting “Curtain Fall,” Wong is writing songs for her second album. No date is set for her second album, but she hopes that her brother will be able to play with her on her it. (end)

Rachel Wong will be performing at The Triple Door on Nov. 1 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit Facebook.com/RachelKMWong, RachelWongMusic.com, twitter.com/Raecho, or youtube.com/Rw2084.

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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