Vocalist and Composer
2019 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Born in Peoria, Illinois to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrants, Jen Shyu is a multilingual vocalist, composer, instrumentalist, and dancer who was named “one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music” by The Nation. Shyu is a 2016 Doris Duke Artist and Fulbright scholar. She was voted 2017 DownBeat Rising Star Female Vocalist, has produced seven albums, and was the first female and vocalist to become bandleader on Pi Recordings.
Shyu has recorded and performed with Steve Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Nicole Mitchell, Mark Dresser, Bobby Previte, and others. She has performed her music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, and the National Theater of Korea. Shyu, a Stanford graduate, has been awarded commissions and support from the MAP Fund, NEA, US-Japan Friendship Commission, Jerome Foundation, Chamber Music America, New Music USA, Jazz Gallery, and Roulette. She has received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Hermitage Artist Retreat, and the Korean Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Sports, Culture, and Tourism. Her critically acclaimed albums, Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi 2015) and Song of Silver Geese (Pi 2017), were included in New York Times’ “Best Albums” lists in their respective years.
Currently, Shyu is presenting her latest solo work Nine Doors—one of New York Times’ “5 Standout Shows”—on her “SOWN/SEWN (Songs of the World Now / Songs Everyone Writes Now)” tour. On this multi-year tour across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Shyu offers free workshops for school kids and families in small rural towns in order to promote cross-cultural and cross-generational exchange through intermedia improvisation and collective storytelling.
Portrait photo by Steven Schreiber.