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Qu Wanting: A passionate singer's modest ambition

Qu Wanting Photos: courtesy of Joan Lin

Nettwerk, one of the top record companies in Canada, had never taken any Chinese singer on board before 2009. However, one Chinese singer and songwriter changed that history in 2009, transforming her own career in the breakthrough.

Qu Wanting (曲婉婷), born in Heilongjiang province, spent more than 10 years studying and working in Canada, and is capable of singing and writing both Chinese and English songs. She released her second album Say the Words (我为你歌唱) in February, which contains songs created during 2005–2013. She prefers to be addressed as a songwriter rather than a singer. She always hopes to console people with broken hearts with the stories in her songs.

Early interest in music

Qu's interest in music can be traced back to her childhood. “I think I have a good ear for music. I am able to remember all the tunes that I have heard. My mother once took me to the home of one of her friends. I climbed onto the stool in front of the piano and started to peck at the keys. When everybody thought I was just fooling around, I played out the tune ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars’. My mother was surprised and asked how I could do it. I said I had heard it many times.” Seeing her potential for music, The mother bought a piano for Qu when she was only six years old, and sent her to classes for systematic learning.

Qu's singing talent was noticed as early as when she was in primary school. However, it was not until middle school that she found the real charm of music. “I performed a song with another three classmates during an art festival held in the Workers’ Cultural Palace. I sang the high-pitched part. I found that the more I prolonged my voice, the more I was applauded. I enjoyed it.”

Studying in Canada

Qu went to Canada as an overseas student in 2000. She lived in Vancouver and studied business instead of anything related to music. “I didn’t expect to have a career in music. I just wanted to be free from my parents’ watch and the Chinese education system,” she said.

Qu said her mother knew she loved music, but wasn’t supportive of her making a living from music. “Once my mother asked me what I wanted to be in the future, I replied I wanted to be a pop star, which made her quite unhappy. My parents were very traditional; they didn’t want me to step into the world of showbiz.”

However, Qu didn’t really put her mind to studying business. She seemed to have to complete a task with her mind still on music. She was even suspended from school for about five months because of her poor academic performance. “It makes me feel very bad to do something I don’t like to do.”

“My mother even didn’t contact me for three years after knowing that I was writing songs.” Anyway, Qu finished her studies in the college. “I told my mother after graduating from college that the four years was a total misery for me. But I still felt happy to finish it for her.”


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