Zee Avi….her story sounds like a modern day fairy tale. Born in Miri in Sarawak (one of the 13 states that make up Malaysia) on the island of Borneo, she grew up in a liberal, encouraging household with a daddy who is very much into music.
At 17, she used to lock herself in her room for hours on end to learn guitar playing. But guitar had to take a back seat for 4 years when she was studying fashion design in London. Upon returning to Malaysia, she picked up the guitar again and began writing songs and performing with a band.
Zee began recording her songs on a webcam and posting them on YouTube. How she came to record her debut album in Los Angeles is a 21st Century tale of the immense potential of the Internet.
The day before her 22nd birthday, she posted on YouTube what she intended to be her last video, a holiday song “No Christmas For Me”. When she had time to check her emails, she had almost 3000 messages including a slew of record label offers. One of the offers came from Ian Montone of Montone Label after he had been shown her YouTube clip. And the rest is history.
Take a look at some of the rave reviews that have been heaped upon Zee’s debut album:
Then.S.Chong, Portland, OR USAA lesson on originality and complexity, August 26, 2009
I am blown away by how someone can turn simple music into such pleasure. Zee Avi does not rock, she is a reminder that the joy and therapeutic value of music is from the heart just as Jimi showed that the mastery of the electric guitar is from the soul not by the skills we hold acrobatic chords or scales.
David Hutchins, Charlotte, NC USATerrific singer and songs, July 10, 2009
The title track ‘Bitter Heart’ grabbed my attention (probably heard it hundreds of times by now) but every song on the CD is very good, appealing melodies with catchy rhythms. Zee Avi has a beautiful voice and her style of singing is arresting. Highly recommend the CD. To view live performances of some of these songs search for her on youtube.
R.Willis, Bellingham, WA USAGreat dinner music, June 27, 2009
This CD has everything you need for an evening of relaxation. Zee’s voice is so smooth and beautiful and the songs are catchy. You will be singing them later in your head. I am a massage therapist, and have even played this CD during a massage. She has the Amy Winehouse feel…. only better.
The Sideman, Boston. MA USAFantastic!!!, May 30, 2009
As a huge fan of the whole Brushfire label I generally like most of the artists that they put out. In this case I can easily say that I LOVE Zee Avi!! Fantastic voice, simple but wonderful lyrics and just the right amount of accompaniment (a lot of singer songwriters tend to over produce) this album hits all the right spots for me. I am thoroughly enjoying this while I wait and hope she comes on tour near me.
Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Miami, FL USAGreat Discovery, May 19, 2009
I discovered this wonderfully talented singer today while checking some of the featured videos for some people I follow on YouTube when I discovered a video of some live performances by Zee. I was instantly blown away by her great voice, fun lyrics, and generally mellow mood of her music. It’s not often that you see somebody like this with natural talent and is not produced from some manufactured formula. If your a fan of anybody along the lines of Norah Jones, you’ll definitely enjoy Zee.
All the above reviews were by Americans. It is so rare for an Asian singer (and a Malaysian!) to receive such glowing reviews from the Americans. Zee Avi has definitely struck a chord with them.
Whoever is reading this, please just sit back, relax and enjoy this YouTube video in which Zee performs 4 of her songs. And if you enjoy the songs, go grab her CD but if you are from Miri, you may have to wait for a while as the local stores have sold out her CD. I know because I have been trying without success to buy her CD for almost a fortnight already. The Speedy Stores inform me that they may receive fresh stock this week……I’m keeping my fingers crossed.