Jane ‘Dolphin Voice’ Zhang loves playing live
In May, 80 fans streamed into a live music venue on the outskirts of Beijing to see their idol Jane Zhang. The small room was packed, and the 27-year-old singer made two wardrobe changes and sang 15 songs. The recording of that session, Listen to Jane Z Live, has now been released.
“I was sweating. It was so nerve-racking,” Zhang says, in the office of her music company in Beijing. “However, I felt more excited than nervous.”
Zhang started rehearsing for the recording 11 days beforehand.
“It’s a live recording, so I didn’t have a second chance,” she says.
The album starts with Opening, as the audience welcomes Zhang onstage with cheers. She goes on to perform the classic English songs At Last and Sing in the Rain.
Zhang’s love for English songs also led to an original production – I Didn’t Know, which shows her wide vocal range.
Working with Taiwan producer Jim Lee, she combined classical music and pop rhythms, with piano and violin in Por Una Cabeza, a popular Argentine tango by Carlos Gardel.
The second half of the show saw her pay tribute to some established Mandarin pop stars by singing Jacky Cheung’s Autumn, Teresa Teng’s South Sea Girl and Chyi Yu’s Dreamland.
Zhang, who rose to fame after winning the 2005 Supergirl singing competition, is known for singing in various languages, such as English, French and Spanish, in addition to Mandarin.
She is also known for hitting the high notes, which is why she is known as “Dolphin Voice”. Zhang has been compared to Mariah Carey, whom she has admired since she was a teenager.
Her five studio albums and two EPs released since 2006 have all topped the Chinese music charts. She has also won best female singer awards over the past three years.
“I have been trying to sing in different styles because I want to find a style that belongs to (me),” she says. “I love music, but during the past seven years, I just wasn’t enjoying myself singing.”
She claims she couldn’t even look at herself in the mirror – when practicing – and felt awkward when dancing on stage.
Zhang, from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, says she had been planning the live album for some time.
Through it she rediscovered her joy of singing and the pleasure of expressing her own ideas.
“Jazz and rock are my favorite genres. I always wanted to have a hoarse voice,” she says, giggling. “This album contains lots of jazz and strong beats, which satisfied me.”
Por Una Cabeza, which was a song from Scent of a Woman, has been a Zhang favorite since she was at high school, and it has been interpreted accompanied by violin and piano.
Unlike her other albums, which required her to undertake serious planning and discussion beforehand, this time she gave herself a break and flew to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles Love.
Inspired, she called Lee in Taiwan.
“All of a sudden, I came up with an idea, and I sang to him on the phone,” Zhang says, laughing. “Working with Jim was very relaxing. We could chat on the phone about everything, gossiping and joking.”
Lee, who has been producing albums for more than 20 years, says: “The best thing about working with Jane was that I could feel her real love for singing.”