Around the end of January, I was sent an MP3 and video for a new song by a young Malaysian artist. It was a beautiful and very minimal song, and I was blown away by it. Because I'd never heard of her before, I reached out for more tracks and to see if she was going to be in the U.S. any time soon. And, sure enough, three weeks later, Yuna was performing live on the Morning Show from New York City.
That morning, when she arrived at the Cutting Room Studios and started getting set up, I noticed that mentions of KEXP on Twitter were blowing up. As I scrolled through, I saw that fan after fan from Malaysia — where it was approaching midnight — was posting about Yuna's performance on the show. This may have been her U.S. radio debut, but Yuna was already a major star in her home country.
I had the honor of sitting in the studio with just her and her guitar as she performed four songs, the last of which was sung (brilliantly, of course) in her native language. Throughout, her voice was flawless — the passion and intensity that she had in every song was palpable — and she couldn't have been kinder or more appreciative during and after her performance. It was truly humbling.
When I went back to the booth after her session, I checked Twitter again and, as I imagined, it had gone off the charts — especially when her proud compatriots heard her singing in her native language.