Who Is Melody Chen?
Melody Chen likes to think of herself as just “a normal teenager.” But if you replace the word “normal” with “humble, poised, talented, and thoughtful,” you’d get a more descriptive picture of what it’s actually like to meet Melody.
A Finalist for 2012 Kollaboration Chicago
This Ohio native has been singing and performing pretty much as long as she can remember. Seeing her star potential, her friends and family had been encouraging her to try out for a major talent showcase for a while, but it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that she heard about Kollaboration and decided to audition. When she and another singer drove all the way from Ohio to try out in Chicago, Melody must have wowed the judges with her rendition of Bruno Mar’s “Grenade,” because she made the cut for Kollaboration Chicago. Now, you’ll get to see her perform as a finalist in the July 7 showcase.
But let’s back up a bit—just in case you’ve never heard of Kollaboration. Often billed as the Asian American version of X-Factor, Kollaboration is an entertainment showcase that dates back to 2001. It was founded in Los Angeles by comedian Paul “PK” Kim as an opportunity to “represent Korean American culture,” but now, it has grown to become a multi-city competition that seeks to empower Asian Americans of all ethnicities.
When I asked her about why she tried out for Kollaboration, Melody explained that it just seemed to fit. It was the “perfect size and the perfect experience for what [she was] looking for” at this point in her career. Also, as a Taiwanese American, she believes in Kollaboration’s mission as empowerment through entertainment. She explained to me that it’s a “good experience for Asian Americans to portray their talents to other Asian Americans.” It “encourages Asian Americans to be confident in showing other people their talents.”
An Inspiring Role Model
In fact, one of the keys to Kollaboration’s ability to “empower” is that it showcases talented people and those people get to become role models to others.
And I’d say that “role model” describes Melody pretty well. When we met, it really struck me how passionate she is. And her dedication and willingness to sacrifice for her dream definitely shows. While most “normal teenagers” would probably spend their last few months of high school trying to sneak in a few more parties before friends spread out to go to college, Melody has been making the five hour trek to Chicago to participate in events and promotion activities for Kollaboration.
She’s also extremely mature and grounded. She explained that while music is her passion, “it’s important to be able to be realistic about [what it means to] make a career in music and singing.” She understands that as she transitions to her new life as a college student, her academics “always come first.” But she’s really excited about all of her opportunities to learn more and grow as both a musician and a person.
It also doesn’t hurt that she has tons of support. Her parents, her brother, and a lot of her friends will be coming out to cheer her on.
A Talented Musician
Melody is pretty new to the scene, so she’s still learning the ropes. But she’s definitely enjoying the process. She’s been playing the piano since she was about 6 years old and has started writing a few songs on the guitar. Although she loves to listen to hip hop and R&B, she models her music after “pop folk” singers like Adele and Colbie Caillat. She also draws her inspiration from “big name female” artists like Alicia Keys, hoping that when people hear her music, they “feel the meaning behind the words that [she’s] singing.”
Well, I’m pretty sold. Here’s to what I hope turns out to be a long career!