It was a cool September evening in 2015. I had just moved to China and was invited to an event Nan Hua University held for the Mid-Autumn Festival. There was a dance performance by a group of freshman. The lights went down. The music came on. The voice of an angel came through the speakers.
And that’s when I fell in love with the Chinese pop star Zhang Jie.
That’s mostly how it happened 😉 I didn’t understand a single word of the song I heard that night, but it was Alt-Rock sounding and upbeat and I really did like the singer’s voice.
I decided to try to learn it for fun, so I found the pinyin lyrics and tried my best to copy the sounds so I could sing the song at KTV and impress my Chinese friends. I’m sure my pronunciation was terrible but my Chinese friends were always so supportive and encouraging of me.
In the process of learning the song, my friend Mervin shared more songs by Zhang Jie with me and I really enjoyed listening to more of his music. (Oh yeah, in Chinese the ‘Zh’ sound is pronounced like a ‘J’. So it’s really like saying Jang Jie.)
You can watch the music video here:
Here’s some fun facts about this Chinese singer you’ve probably never heard of:
1. His English name is Jason and he can speak and sing in English.
2. Zhang Jie is married to a TV Show host in the Hunan province. Her name is Xie Na and she is equally beautiful and funny and charming. They were married in Shangri-la (heaven on earth) and I’m only a little jealous.
3. In 2014 he won best “Best International Artist” at the 46th American Music Awards. Bet you didn’t know that!
4. He’s known for his eclectic fashion and wardrobe and is often seen in bold colors and leopard print (as pictured above.)
5. He performed for the CCTV Gala for Chinese New Year in 2014 (a big deal in China!) and also performs many songs on China’s famous I Am A Singer show
When I first told students how much I loved him, they would laugh a little at me, because he was super popular when they were in middle school. It’s like in America if you tell someone your favorite band is…Fall Out Boy? Kelly Clarkson? I’m struggling to find a good comparison. Think of someone super popular a few years ago, but still also relevant and well-liked today.
My students started bringing me Zhang Jie gifts. I received posters and postcards and books and even a pillow with his face plastered on it. It became a little ridiculous how much stuff I had (but impossible to refuse such heart felt gifts!)
Some of my other favorite songs sang (or covered) by Zhang Jie:
- 夜空中最亮的星 (Ye kong zhong zui liang de xing) – The Brightest Star in the Night Sky
- 你就不要想起我 (Ni jiu buyao xiangqi wo) – Don’t Think About Me
- 天上掉下个林妹妹 (Tianshang dia xia ge lin meimei)
这就是爱 (Zhe jiu shi ai) – This is Love
- Just the Way You Are (He sings a cute cover of Bruno Mars’ classic hit.)
To this day my old students still message me when they see Zhang Jie singing on TV or hear news about him online. He and his wife recently had two twins, and one student messaged me: “Rachel, you have become a step-mother today.” LOL.
At the end of the semester last year I brought my guitar and played Ni Zhan for my students, and that was so fun. They shared it online on the Chinese social media called QQ (let’s retweet it until Zhang Jie sees it!!!)
It’s my dream to one day see Zhang Jie in concert, where he’ll pull me onto stage and we’ll sing Ni Zhan together and I’ll dazzle everyone with my flawless Chinese. Maybe one day.