We had the good fortune of connecting with Gloria Fanchiang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gloria, why did you pursue a creative career?
Deep down I always had a desire to be a musician but growing up I never believed it was possible. As the daughter of an avid classical music lover and amateur French horn player, I took music lessons and played and sang in numerous ensembles and choirs all through my childhood. I even considered applying to music school for college but my immigrant parents would not support me in pursuing such a financially risky path. As a college student my relationship with music changed. Previously it was all about achievement and vanity, but when I found faith in God, music became a medium for prayer and deep communion with God, as well as a medium for healing. Struggling through depression and anxiety, I found solace singing and playing hymns and worship songs. After I graduated college I found a job in marketing research and joined a local church, whose music ministry blessed me immensely and aided me in my journey of inner healing. I eventually joined the church band and discovered my own gifts in leading musical worship and songwriting, and I saw how others were finding faith and healing through the music I made. As I got more serious about music I made sacrifices cutting my work hours and eventually leaving marketing research altogether to pursue my art. But it’s been such a privilege to be able to touch people’s lives through my music. I find my purpose in making music and at this point of my life it’s no longer enough just to do it as a hobby. If this is my life’s work I must devote time and energy to it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The great thing about being an independent artist is that I have the freedom to make whatever kind of music I like and I’m not bound by trends of the music industry. The Contemporary Christian Music genre songs tend to all sound very similar, but I’ve released worship songs drawing from different kinds of music that I love. My singing style tends to be soulful like in my song “Well Pleased,” which sounds like Lauryn Hill and Tori Kelly. My latest single “Trust and Endure” is influenced by the Chopin piano music I grew up playing. I’ve also released “Psalm 139,” based on the scripture, which has a rock feel. And I hope to explore incorporating traditional and contemporary Chinese and Taiwanese musical influences in my future projects. The reality is that the Christian music industry might not ever support someone like me – an Asian American woman. Sometimes this weighs on me and it is really daunting to not only create my own music but also my own platform. Also Asian American churches are not known for nurturing songwriters and are often perfectly content using either traditional hymns or whatever songs are playing on the radio. I’ve had to be really proactive in looking for mentors, companions for the journey, and ways to grow in my craft. Nevertheless I feel so lucky to live in an age of social media and the internet which opens up many possibilities of connecting with people and sharing my music. As I create music that is authentic to me with my musical influences and my faith and life journey, I just have to trust that my voice matters. I have to keep believing that my music can bless others and help people (especially Asian American Christians) realize they are missing the gifts of Asian American and female voices in worship.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I moved to LA only a few months ago during the pandemic so I haven’t had a chance to fully explore the area. However I’ve loved visiting the Huntington Gardens as well as discovering new hiking trails. There is also so much good Asian food in the San Gabriel Valley. Golden Deli in San Gabriel has great pho. Grand Harbor Restaurant in Temple City has good dim sum. JJ Bakery is a lovely Chinese bakery. I also love tacos at Guisados. Coronado Beach in the San Diego area is really nice to visit as a day trip or a quick getaway.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people I could thank for helping me in my journey but the following have been especially helpful: I discovered my calling to music ministry and songwriting when I was a part of Metro Community Church in Englewood NJ. Many people at the church supported me in my music journey (and just in my life journey!). In particular, Young Lee was the Worship Director at the time and he helped me recognize my gifts as a worship leader. Bruce Feffer helped me discover my songwriting gift, and Hankeol Kim helped me produce my debut album. I had the privilege of being a Worship Arts Intern at the Church of the Village in NYC under the mentorship of Jorge Lockward and Katie Reimer. I learned so much from them about worship ministry and also had opportunities to compose for the church and hone my craft during the internship. Most recently I connected with the Hymn Society, where I found wonderful songwriting mentors in Swee Hong Lim, Dan Damon and Jacque B. Jones. The Hymn Society songwriting workshops have also been very helpful for me. Finally I’d like to shout out my mom and dad, Yu Ju and Shan-Pei Fanchiang, who sacrificed so much for me and paid for my education (musical and otherwise). I’m able to venture into the unknown and blaze my own trail because they set the example for me by leaving their homeland, immigrating to the USA and working so hard to build a life here and contribute to the community here. Like so many immigrants they have made this country a better place and I hope to continue their legacy.
Tennyson Aldane Olya & Tony Yang Ken Fong