[ENTERTAINMENT]Whatever She Sings, It's Sincerely Yuri'sAt first glance, Jeong Yu-ri, 16, does not look like your typically glamorous Korean pop singer. She looks more like any other high school girl you might meet on the street. But once you hear her sing, you are immediately overwhelmed by her powerful and expressive voice.
It took a unique use of modern technology for Yuri (as the record company calls her) to succeed by her voice alone: She used mp3s. Chollian sponsored the First Cyber Music Festival in 2000. Participants had to submit songs they wrote themselves in the form of mp3 files. Yuri sent in an R&B ballad, "Jakjiman Keodaran Sarang" ("A Small but Great Love"). Among the 230 competitors, the then-15-year-old high school student won the grand prize, and along with it, an offer for a recording contract. "It was like destiny," Yuri told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition, "for I found out about the contest while I was casually surfing the Internet."
During their 10-minute-breaks between classes, most Korean high school students either sleep, chat, study or eat. But not Yuri. She writes songs then and dreams of singing. Already, her fan club has 3,000 members, even before the release of her debut album, "Just Like R&B," coming Thursday.
"Ever since I was 4, I have always dreamed of being a singer," said Yuri, dressed in a casual white sweatshirt and blue jeans. Born to a mother who is a piano teacher and a father who is a big music fan, this jaunty young lady did not hesitate to express how fortunate she feels to be doing so well so soon.
Though Yuri grew up with classical music, she feels more attached to soul and R&B. This influence came from her father. "When I was 12, my father got me the original sound track of the film 'Bodyguard,'" Yuri said. "After listening to Whitney Houston's voice, I was determined to pursue an R&B style for the rest of my life."
When asked what singers she liked besides Houston, Yuri rattled off a names of R&B musicians for almost five minutes. Then she said, "I just love everything that is R&B because of the catharsis that the crooning and powerful vocals give me."
Quite rare for the a singer who has only recently made her debut, Yuri is doing stage concerts every month, starting from Friday. (For concert information, call 02-2166-2884). Yuri is also set to release a single in Japan next February.
Yuri said that she writes songs in a variety of ways. "Sometimes I get spurred on from a sudden inspiration and it takes me only a few minutes to come up with a song."
Yuri seems to feel that her life is unfolding in an all-too-beautiful manner. "I'm so happy to be doing what I'm doing," she said. The only time Yuri appears unhappy is when she she mentions Aliyah, the pop singer who died recently in a plane crash. "I am so sorry that the talented singer is gone, so unexpectedly." It is a lesson that has taught her to be satisfied with what she has. "Now it seems to be my turn," she said.
by Chun Su-jin