Born in Peoria, Illinois, USA, from Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrant parents, 2016 Doris Duke Artist Jen Shyu (Chinese name: 徐秋雁) is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, and Fulbright scholar. Known mostly for her virtuosic singing with saxophonist and 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellow Steve Coleman since 2003 and having collaborated with innovators Anthony Braxton, Bobby Previte, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek, and David Binney to name a few, she has performed her own music around the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Gugak Center, and National Theater of Korea and festivals around the world.
A Stanford University graduate in opera with classical violin and ballet training, Jen had already won many piano competitions and played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb Minor, 3rd Movement, with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra by the age of 13. She has also studied traditional music and dance in Cuba, Taiwan, Brazil, China, South Korea, East Timor, and Indonesia, extensive research which in 2014 culminated into Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, directed by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho. Shyu has won commissions and support from the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards (2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and 2014 Doris Duke Impact Award), MAP Fund, Jerome Foundation, Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works, New Music USA, Jazz Gallery, and Roulette, as well as fellowships from Asian Cultural Council, Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Korean Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Tourism.