«Whenever I write songs, I am thinking of my family
and my Chinese origins. Sometimes when I sing I have the feeling
they can hear me. Music is my connection to home.»
Jamie Wong-Li was born in Hong Kong in the spring
of 1974, the fruit of a passionate love between her Chinese
parents. Yet too many conflicts finally led to a separation.
This experience left deep traces in Jamie Wong-Li's soul and
has always been the source of her music and lyrics. Her mother
later remarried a Swiss native and settled down in Switzerland.
Parting from her culture has been another painful experience
for Jamie Wong-Li.
«I was six when we arrived in Switzerland.
I kept asking my parents if we would ever go back to Hong
Kong one day. I was terribly homesick. I couldn't understand
the children nor did they understand me, but I yearned enormously
for integrity and contact. I was often bullied and terrorized
by the kids at school and in the neighborhood. It was humiliating
and incredibly painful for me. There was only one world in
which I could regain my strength and my dignity, in which
I felt safe and accepted: Music.»
There was a decade when dancing meant everything
to Jamie. She dedicated herself passionately to classical
ballet, jazz dance, tap dance and was enrolled in acting school.
As her body had started to rebel against the vigorous training,
she had to give up dancing and devoted herself completely
to music, took up piano and singing lessons. With her school
band she came out on stage for the very first time as a vocalist.
And later she appeared in many concerts with different bands.
In 1996 Jamie Wong-Li founded «Smartship
Friday» with four other musicians. The bringing together
of this band had offered Jamie the possibility to express
herself and at the same time had brought her a new world of
family life. During those eight exciting and intensive years
with studio recordings and performances, she was also participating
in many other projects with various musicians and DJ's, and
worked as a presenter on TV shows. In 2003 she had made her
decision to go her own way, and left «Smartship Friday».
Years of inexhaustible energy and many ups and
downs have resulted in retreats and contemplation. But Jamie
Wong-Li has never given up her hopes. On the contrary, she
has been struggling through all her life, standing up after
defeats. She is a cofounder of the Jazz quartett "James",
which is currently touring Switzerland.
«Today I know we only have one home: our
own heart. It sounds so simple. But it is the most arduous
journey of all. In order to set this trip in motion, one has
to be naked and get soft and easy. There are not many people
who are ready to give up their coolness. It is painful to
bare yourself. But it is the only way to freedom.»
Jamie Wong-Li possesses an intense and
genuine presence besides her unpretentious versatility. It
is amazing to experience the sensational stage performance
of this dainty, yet expressive Asian woman. Perhaps she feels
close to home here.