Let's Do This! 

My crowdfunding campaign with ifundwomen is officially live! You can contribute here. 

Performing and playing music is the love of my life. But when I was a little girl, I was incredibly timid. I could never have dreamed of singing on stage. As a shy, half-Chinese granddaughter of immigrants, I believed it was better to stay quiet and not take up space. Secretly, I wanted to sing. I sang quietly in my bedroom, and I danced and sang around the house when nobody was home. 

33 years later, I can say I’ve come a long way: I played 170 shows in 365 days while living in a 30-ft RV, playing shows across the USA and Canada.. Then I decided to move across the country from California to Nashville, Tennessee to further pursue my career in music. 

Just 4 months after moving to Nashville, COVID-19 hit the world and everything changed. 

Luckily, the music community in this city is unlike any other! I’ve met not only the most talented musicians and artists, but the most incredible, genuine friends. We’ve looked out for each other and supported each other through the roller coaster of these last two years, and out of the chaos came some beautiful songs. 

My co-producer Connor Gehlert and I have been working on this project in a super low-budget way, recording mostly at his home studio. We recorded the rhythm section with Michael Beckhart, who was studying audio engineering at the time and wanted to build his experience with recording a live band. 

The record isn’t done yet, and I need your help bringing it to life. Asking for help is very nerve wracking, and it can be tough to unlearn the hurtful messaging many of us artists have received that says “artists don’t deserve to be paid”--but I believe in the integrity of this music! 

I’ve come up with some honestly SLAPPIN rewards and incentives for this campaign that I am genuinely excited about! Nashville is so full of creative and interesting people, so I got help from my friends on these unique rewards so you will not only be contributing towards the album, you’ll get a cool thing or experience out of it (who DOESN’T want a psychic reading or an E-Book on RV Life!?) 

My goal is to raise at least $10,000, but if we raise more I’ll be able to dream a bit bigger and hire help with press to get my name out there, pitch my brand, and get my music heard by a bigger audience. 

Your contributions will help with: 

Creating jobs: your contributions are creating over 16 jobs for people in the music industry. I’ve been paying as I go and out of pocket for some of my musicians and, quite frankly, they deserve more! The musicians I have on this record are so talented and they are bringing my songs to the next level. Connor Gehlert, my co-producer, has spent countless hours going over these songs with me and bringing them to their highest and fullest sonic potential. This takes a TON of work and patience on his part, so let’s get him compensated for this labor of love. 

Mixing and Mastering: this is a crucial part of making a high quality album! You’d be surprised how different some of your favorite songs might sound if they aren’t mixed and mastered professionally. Let's make it sound as awesome as possible for your lil' ears! 

Album Art: I’m commissioning my dear friend and visual artist Miriam Speyer design the artwork for this project, which will be printed on T-shirts and/or Tank Tops for your fashionable selves! 

Distribution and Marketing: I will release this album everywhere music is available, and I plan to use your contributions to market the album properly. In a world where there is so much content all the time, it can get really overwhelming for listeners to find what they’re looking for. Getting help to create the right content will help get my music to the right ears. 

Thank you SO MUCH for reading my story. Your support truly means the world to me, and I can’t wait to bring this record into the world. Let’s do this, ya’ll!

My Trip To Uzbekistan 

My trip to Uzbekistan was unreal and unforgettable. I haven’t been able to travel internationally since 2018, so this was quite an entry back into it!

To have the privilege of sharing my music with an international audience and I met such warm and welcoming people. It is hard to put into words. For a summary of what my trip entailed, simply read this article by HDI, the institute that gave me and my accompanist/friend Gyasi Ross this amazing opportunity. 

First Blog of 2022 

Welcome to my blog, ya’ll! I’m going to try to post a blog when I can–ideally twice a month or more. Let’s kick this off by giving you a general life update: 

1. I’m still in Nashville! 

I can’t believe I’ve been living in Nashville for over 2.5 years. It feels like I just got here yesterday, and also like it’s been 10 years. I don’t know about you, but the pandemic really warped my sense of time. 

Nashville has been such an adventure, and if you had asked me 10 years ago where I’d be living now, I would never have said Tennessee! But that’s life for you. Nashville is such an interesting place. It’s got a thriving music scene and some of the kindest people I’ve met. People really look out for each other and are invested in their communities. While it’s quite different from California in a lot of ways, it does have a special charm and I feel pretty comfortable living here overall. 

I’m playing shows locally, sometimes with a full band and sometimes more stripped down. My favorite spot to play in Nashville is Rudy’s Jazz Room. It’s an intimate lounge (perfect for a date!) and fits my music perfectly. Hopefully as I continue to grow a local audience, I’ll start playing in bigger venues! 

2. I’m going to Uzbekistan June 13-17 to play at the United States Embassy! 

I am sure ya’ll have questions about this one, so I’ll answer what I can: 

What? Apparently performing music at US Embassies internationally is a thing! US embassies have budgets for cultural events, and this is one of them. I am performing for their 4th of July event (even though the event is being held in June), to celebrate American independence day. As an added bonus, my dear friend Gyasi Ross is accompanying me on lead guitar! If you think about it, it’s pretty damn cool: we’re going to be the faces of American culture. This is particularly awesome to me because I believe the world might have a one-sided view of how an “American” looks, sounds and acts. 

How? This opportunity came to me through my friend Simon Tam, founder of The Slants Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to underrepresented voices (especially those within the Asian American community.) Simon reached out to me about performing internationally and I, of course, said YES! Simon then connected me to The HDI, an organization that supports cultural diplomacy and works with US embassies worldwide to engage people through music, the arts, and sports. 

Why? To be honest, I never would have thought I’d end up in Uzbekistan of all places! I didn’t know anything about that part of the world because we never learned about it. But after researching and learning more (especially about Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital), I’m super intrigued and can’t wait for this adventure! 

In a way, this is an opportunity for me to literally live my dream. Some of you know this, but when I was a teenager I wanted to work for National Geographic as a photojournalist. I’ve always lit up whenever anyone talks about traveling somewhere new or exploring a different culture, which is why I studied cultural anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. This was all before I embraced my other (secret) passion of being an artist and musician. To travel internationally as a diplomat and an artist (AND get paid to do it?!) That is truly a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. 

3. I’m working on new music (plus a surprise update)! 

The EP is well under way. I’m working on 6 brand new songs for you, and I am beyond excited for this project to come to fruition! This EP is truly a beautiful work of art, backed by some of Nashville’s finest musicians. The team I have behind me is incredibly talented. As I mentioned earlier, Nashville has such a thriving music scene and the people really look out for each other. 

Me and my co-producer Connor Gehlert have been hard at work recording instruments and vocals at his home studio in Nashville. After we finish recording, I plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for mixing, mastering and marketing the project. This will be a big feat and the 2nd time I’ve crowdfunded since my Kickstarter back in 2017 for my debut album, Moon & Sun. I’ll be sending more information and updates about that in June and July. 

So that’s it for now, folks. Thanks again for continuing to follow my musical journey. Remember to follow me on Instagram for the latest updates. 

Remember to take care of yourselves and each other. I love you!

Ellisa

P.S. I just added a virtual tip jar to my homepage! Feel free to donate a buck or two to help me continue to make music.