It’s the success story of this generation. Musician writes song; song goes viral; and the singer becomes a sensation.
Except that Christine Welch also managed to transcend language and boundaries while doing so.
CGTN’s Dan Williams has her remarkable story.
Madison, Wisconsin is home to one of the more unusual musical success stories.
Christine Welch has become somewhat of an unexpected star in China.
Last year, a song she wrote in Mandarin five years earlier, “A Million Possibilities” suddenly became a viral internet hit.
As Welch remembers, “It was pretty crazy because the app that it went viral on, is called Tik Tok or Douyin in Chinese. Then I was like really curious, why is this going viral now, five years after the CD went out?”
Christine studied Asian and Middle Eastern Language at Northwestern University in Illinois. After a four-month study stint in Beijing, she then completed a two-year course in Taiwan.
She says, “I felt like Chinese is one of the most expressive and poetic languages. I just get really inspired by the way that it there is literature from 3,000 years ago that you can still read and these really great philosophical works, you know, from 2,000 years ago. And it really inspires me to use that same language to make modern songs.”
After posting songs online, her music caught the attention of music producer Skot Suyama. They collaborated on an album released in 2014. And it was Skot’s music that inspired Christine to write the lyrics for “A Million Possibilities.”
Welch says, “I listened to the music and that’s what really informed the metaphors in the song. It made me feel of snow falling and coming back really late in the snow. And I just wrote a song about what that made me feel like. It gave me the feeling of time and any possibility. And that there are a million possibilities in any moment so don’t worry if you don’t grab the last one. It feels really awesome when people tell me stories like I was in a really bad place last night, and I listened to your song and it lifted my heart up and I have been listening to it non-stop ever since. That is a really great feeling and I hope I can give more positive energy to people.”
The viral publicity around the song last year saw her invited to perform on a number of television specials in China including CCTV’s variety show “Everlasting Classics.”
Extended interview with U.S. singer Christine Welch
“Because their show is about bringing ancient Chinese literature and culture to everybody but as a mass audience idea, I guess they thought it would be perfect to also have me on there as I am also interested in Chinese literature. They had such a great stage and they had all of those props just for me. It was crazy,” Welch says.
Christine is continuing her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and hopes to complete her PhD in two years.
She has also recently opened a Taiwanese restaurant in Madison.
As for the future, Christine’s focus is on her studies and finishing her PhD. But there is some good news for fans of her music.
“I do have these songs written that are sort of ancient Chinese sort of feel. Let’s just say that’s a type of music that is out there. I am definitely going to go in that direction in the future,” Welch revealed. Maybe mash it up with some more modern sounding song.”
Asked about how the path has suddenly opened up for Welch, she says, “No I still can’t believe it. It still feels really far away from here, from snowy Wisconsin. But I am enjoying and I am just going to keep going with it live in the moment.”
This is a path less traveled, but like her song, her success should provide inspiration to all the potential possibilities that exist if you simply continue to believe.