Classical trained pianist Vivian Fang Lui emigrated to New York at age 15. After graduating from NYU, she continued her studies but also began performing and teaching. Vivian spent her pandemic year giving Zoom lessons and livestreaming musical experiences with her students but became concerned at the escalating number of anti-Asian hate crimes.
On “Silence,” co-written with Grammy winner Jon Samson, Vivian uses the dichotomy of sheet music, which has its silences, against the tranquility that kids sometimes need to center themselves during tough times. “Belong” features the voices of some of Vivian’s students and practically demands that every Asian child stand up and be proud of themselves, pointing out the accomplishments of Asians (a concept akin to Freelon’s “Black Women in History”):
Plus, science – some of our inventions are the finest
Eric Yuan created Zoom, kept us connected through the Virus
Patrick Soon Shiung is a transplant surgeon
Who made a drug to help cancer patients through their hurtin’
So every Asian kid just stand up now
Don’t hide who you are, be yourself and be proud
Vivian deftly celebrates her Chinese upbringing on songs like “Happy Birthday Mama,” explaining that open expressions of affection are not as commonplace in Asian culture. “Eight Immortals Soaring Over the Sea” is filled with imagery evocative of the anime of such filmmakers as Hayao Miyazaki. Throughout the eight tracks, Vivian delivers euphoric classical piano tracks that give Shape Of Crowns a distinctive feel. Much like Elena Moon Park, Vivian demonstrates that Asian voices are an important portion of the children’s music scene.
You can hear Shape Of Crowns on Vivian’s website, Soundcloud, Spotify, Amazon, and Apple Music.
Here is the video for Vivian’s song, “Belong”: