At first glance, onlookers most likely cannot help but be nagged by one seemingly social taboo of a lingering question: “Is Shin Cho-i a he or a she?”
“I know when most people see me they ask themselves, ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’” said female solo vocalist Shin. “I’ve gotten that my whole life.”
Because the singer bares social traits that people often associate with being masculine or non-feminine, she has, and continues, to cope with the realities of living in a world of typecasting and social barriers.
“Even using public restrooms was difficult for me. I’d sometimes go in and girls would scream, so it hasn’t always been easy for me,” she said. “But I have always been like this ― I’m not cute or girly and I don’t wear skirts or dresses. This is what makes me comfortable. This is just who I am.”
“I’m hoping that one day people will be able to see past my looks and just focus on my music.”
|Former contestant on “The Voice of Korea” audition program Shin Cho-i who has released a new single, “Bad.” (CJ E&M)|
Shin has had a passion for music ever since she was a kid and learned how to sing on her own by lip syncing, and taught herself how to the play guitar by watching clips on YouTube. The budding musician, who also writes and composes her own music, doesn’t set any boundaries to finding inspiration for her songs.
“One time I heard about how people can get inspiration by leaning back in a chair. Supposedly if you lean back and catch yourself right as you are about to fall, thoughts will begin to rush through your head,” she explained with a smile. “I tried it once, but it didn’t work.”
For a female singer, Shin’s voice is deep and at times very husky, but her voice also has a softer touch than most male vocalists, giving her a unique edge. Formerly a wedding singer and troubadour who sang on the urban streets of Hongdae, Shin’s constant pursuit of making a career out of music led her to audition for the first and second seasons of the singing audition program “Superstar K,” though she failed both times. Shin began to have thoughts about giving up her dreams.
“A friend of mine called me one day and told me that auditions were being held for ‘The Voice of Korea,’ but I told her I was not interested,” she said. “I was just so afraid of going through the pains of rejection again.”
However, Shin later had a change of heart and decided to audition for the show ― a decision she would not regret as it led to her big break. During the show’s blind audition round, she performed “After the Play” by Sharp and quickly grabbed the attention of Gil from the veteran hip-hop duo Leessang.
“Even though Coach Gil was the only one who turned around during my audition, he was the one that I wanted to work with from the get-go, so I still was very happy,” she said.
Although she ended up being eliminated in the early stages of the show, her performances still managed to make an impression as she captivated the audience with her distinctive look and sound.
Shin, who has signed a deal with CJ E&M, released her first single titled “Bad,” for the soundtrack of the recently released popular Korean film “Berlin.” She is currently in training and hopes to continue her pursuit of music and eventually release her first solo album.
“When I was younger I had this journal, and every single morning when I woke up I wrote down, ‘One day I will perform at the Grammys,’” she said. “I eventually filled two notebooks. I keep them as a constant reminder of what I hope to achieve with my music.”
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)